Evelyn Groenink

Does white rage at Oscar Pistorius show ‘racial shame’?

South African social critic Jonny Steinberg described the outpourings of anger from fellow whites at girlfriend killer Oscar Pistorius as ‘racial shame’. And unleashed much wrath in return.

In his column in Business Day, Steinberg noted that “white people I’ve known for years, usually calm and thoughtful, grow red with anger when they talk about Pistorius.” He contrasted that with the relatively calm response from within South Africa’s black community and theorized that whites were probably enraged at Pistorius’ perceived betrayal of post-apartheid whiteness. Here was a disabled, brave, self-made hero, ‘a white man who could wrap himself in the national flag (and)of whom black people were proud,’ who betrayed all that by showing himself to be a gun-toting, testosterone-laden, black intruder-blaming girlfriend killer: a ‘stick figure of white depravity as if invented by an anti-apartheid propagandist.”

Quite a few white social media writers, predominantly among them veteran journalist and author Max du Preez, were disgusted at this, saying that ‘not everything is about race’ and denying having anything at all in common with Pistorius. Except perhaps a contributor called Marc Lurie, who wrote: “Pistorius is an indictment on the way we bring up our kids to be aggressive, macho, and competitive beyond reason. If anything, we should feel guilty that there are hundreds of thousands of other testosterone fueled, short-fused jerks in the country.”