WE’RE FACING A FREEDOM CRISIS AT SOUTH AFRICAN UNIVERSITIES.
OUR CAMPAIGN IS AN ATTEMPT TO OPEN UP SPACE FOR FREE SPEECH AND DEBATE THAT HAS BEEN CLOSED OFF BY RADICAL STUDENT POLITICS. FOLLOW US ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION.
Over the past few years, we have seen a declining tolerance of controversial and potentially offensive opinions, especially those labelled as ‘liberal’, ‘capitalist’ or ‘conservative’.
Marxism and identity politics are enforced as ‘correct’ ideological positions in many undergraduate courses, and those who disagree are ‘labelled’ and excluded.
Racial nationalism and identity politics are ideologies that have become very popular at UCT in the past few years, especially among humanities students and academics. They are both dangerous ideologies that threaten the freedom of the UCT community, and South Africa at large.
Identity politics refers to political positions which are based on identitarian allegiances (e.g. race, gender, religion, etc.) rather than principle. From identity politics’ perspectives, the validity of what someone says is often based on their identity rather than the objective validity of their argument.
One danger inherent in identity politics is the tendency to make assumptions about people based on their race/gender/other immutable characteristics. We then lose sight of the individual being classified, and their personal views and identity. For example, some find it hard to believe that a black person could be conservative, on the assumption that all blacks must be Marxists or radicals. Faced with a conservative black person, identity politicians will often subject that person to verbal abuse by calling them 'sellout', 'coconut', or telling them that they are being controlled by a white person and do not have a mind of their own.
These ideologies threaten freedom because they make people afraid to express their individual identities, for fear of being subjected to some kind of abuse, exclusion, or 'labelling'. Worst of all, this abuse is often thought to be morally desirable by radicals.
One of the lies told by radicals at UCT is that 'racism is all about 'power structures' and therefore, 'black people can't be racist'. This means that some people can say what they like, regardless of how bigoted it is, while others can be called 'racist' without justification.
It's time to remind ourselves of basic moral principles. Racism is prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. Nothing more, nothing less.
If we don't start standing up for basic moral principles (i.e. don't be racist), our universities will continue to become more hostile and divided, people will continue to be afraid to express themselves and campuses will not be a free academic space.
Given that our campaign is centred around various freedoms, here's what freedom means to us:
Freedom is being able to exist as an individual in society without fear of intimidation or violence.
Freedom is being able to say, think and do what we want - as long as it doesn't unjustifiably harm others - without fear of punishment or harm from others.
Freedom is being able to keep and use the things that belong to us, without being arbitrarily deprived of them by the state or other people.
Freedom allows every person to decide what is good for them, and to take steps towards bringing about that good.
Freedom is being able to start a business without having to contend with governmental red tape and to run a business without being told how to by the state.
Freedom is the ability to practice one's religion as they wish, even if it isn't the majority religion in their country.
Freedom is the ability to think and believe whatever we want to, and to challenge the ideas of others, without subjecting them to abuse.
Freedom is not about the domination of one group over another. It is about ensuring the individual does not have to fear the tyranny of the group.
It is not about state control over our lives. It is about keeping the state out of places where it doesn't belong.
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