Are “1652s” the new Jews? A review of Milton Shain’s A Perfect Storm: Antisemitism in South Africa, 1930-1948. From a review by the Helen Suzman Foundation | hsf.org.za
“Latter-day fascists stalk our university campuses propelled, in Tony Leon’s words, by a populist fury against whites. Seized with a grandiose but ill-defined project to “decolonise” institutions, these student demagogues view “whiteness” (an incoherent notion) as an existential threat; an impurity that has to be “countered”, “abolished” and even “burned”. They are chauvinists who reject any kind of cultural cross-pollination as a form of “appropriation”. In fact, opposition to “whiteness” now performs a similar function to anti-Semitism among Afrikaners in the 1930s and 1940s. It is being used to construct a monolithic group identity and deflect attention from socio-economic cleavages among black South Africans. Jew-baiting has made its return. Last year, the former President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Wits University, Mcebo Dlamini, declared his love for Adolf Hitler. He said, “[w]hat I love about Hitler is his charisma and his capabilities
to organise people. We need more leaders of such calibre. I love Adolf Hitler”. A few months later, the SRC President at the Durban University of Technology, Mqondisi Duma, demanded that his Council expel from the university all Jews who would not publicly declare their loyalty to the Palestinian cause. These student fascists are aided and abetted by an insurgent black middle-class intelligentsia, riding the bandwagon of racial populism (the Piet Meyers, Nico Diedrichses and – dare it be said – Hendrik Verwoerds of their time). Trapped in a binary, essentialist cast of mind – where black pain and victimhood square off against white domination and privilege – their discourse has already moved from a regressive leftist fringe to the centre of politics. They view whites as aliens, or “1652s” in their jarring parlance; predatory immigrants who might, ultimately, be unassimilable into their new world order. As Helen Suzman Foundation Research Fellow, Aubrey Matshiqi, recently observed, when countries, organisations and institutions feel under siege and are incapable of resolving their problems, then “finding ‘Jews’ to blame becomes a strategic option”.
[Scapegoating, Mimetic Theory]