Santa vs. the ANC? Huh?
November 24, 2015 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Am I missing a non-racist current political or cultural South African nuance in this internet thingy? An acquaintance "shared" an, uh, thing, on Facebook and I'm not sure I understand the nuance, if any (i.e. is this just a "haha Black people aren't taken seriously" or is this a legitimate political commentary on the ANC, e.g. corruption or whatever else I'm ignorant of?).

The acquaintance is a white woman, age 40, living in Cape Town. She is a friend of a friend that I met for a week (at a friend's beach house) and have infrequent online passive contact (think: "liking" the opening of her restaurant and her liking my baby's pictures). Point is, I don't know her very well.

The internet postcard-type post was: "Before you laugh at children that believe in Father Christmas, remember there are adults who believe the ANC!"

Is this closer to, like, Fox News folks who rant about our Muslim President and Trump kind of stuff (a la #alllivesmatter, etc.) or the typical political (yet increasingly less benign) "lol Republicans/Democrats/opposing party are liars" discourse?
posted by Pax to Society & Culture (11 answers total)
Why would it be racist? The ANC is titanically corrupt.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 5:27 PM on November 24, 2015 [5 favorites]

The ANC is definitely deserving of criticism, since it manages a very corrupt system, but a lot of the criticism it gets comes with more than a dash of racism. I would assume so this case, but maybe that's biased on my part, since nearly every white South African I've ever known has said some wildly racist shit, especially those over the age of thirty.
posted by dadaclonefly at 5:42 PM on November 24, 2015

It's a poorly constructed quip but it isn't racist. The ANC is as bent as a £9 note.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:46 PM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

The current ANC is not the same party that Mandela was president of South Africa leading. In fact, ever since the Marikana Massacre, Archbishop Desmond Tutu has distanced himself from the party. So there's plenty of reasons to criticize the ANC without being racist about it. Nothing about that slogan (?) strikes me as particularly racist, though suggesting that laughing at children who believe in Father Christmas is something commonly done strikes me as strange.
posted by axiom at 5:49 PM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thank you, this is kind of a relief. I regret my ignorance of the evolution of the ANC.

I'm a younger sibling, so I never got the chance to believe in Santa, so the laughing at kids that do slipped right by me :)
posted by Pax at 5:54 PM on November 24, 2015

I tend to agree with the above posters: it could very easily be coming from a racist place in this person, but the ANC is ridiculously bad so it's hard to say for certain. Like, if someone makes a joke about the Mafia being evil, they might be against Italians or it might just be because holy crap the Mafia.

I also find South Africans to be frequently "surprisingly" racist. It sounds rather like they're trying to start a (really violent) fight to me, which tends to make me think that I'm just really not calibrated the same way at all.
posted by SMPA at 5:55 PM on November 24, 2015 [1 favorite]

Interesting analogy, SMPA! From my time in Italy, I found that folks (Milanese, in my experience) didn't find the Mafia references/romanticism from the Godfather et al funny/intriguing at all and were very sensitive to the Mafia = Italian, so I can understand the sensitivity to that association.

And in the US, I guess I might have very obliquely experienced the joke about Mafia = anti-Italian, but only kind of good-naturedly, if that makes sense. And I work with a really lovely guy named Tony Soprano.

So thank you, folks. Officially just political criticism, with possible, but not automatic, racist intent.
posted by Pax at 6:06 PM on November 24, 2015

Erm, it's a play on words (well, the one I saw said "believe *in* the ANC"...)

Or do you guys get that and I'm missing that you do get it?

Or maybe it's a SA thing that "believe in" means trust, sortakinda.

Edit: Was too long ago, can't find it on FB. Maybe my error correction read it as "believe in the ANC".

And a lot of people used to believe in the ANC. Unfortunately they did not deliver on the dream.
posted by wrm at 12:59 AM on November 25, 2015

Being able to criticise the ANC is a healthy component of democracy. As Evita Bezuidenhout herself put it, "you can't just have A and C"

There is no way to know how that "white woman, age 40" intended it.
posted by Kwadeng at 2:31 AM on November 25, 2015

Or maybe it's a SA thing that "believe in" means trust, sortakinda.

No, I get it, but this one definitely said "believe the ANC," which consistent with what folks here have said, does sound more concretely political (e.g. the corruption) than, say, deeply philosophical or related to idealism, which "believe in" implies to me.
posted by Pax at 5:03 AM on November 25, 2015

Agree with the political conclusions everyone has reached, but also wanted to add that South African humour tends to be a bit unsophisticated and on the goofy side, so that's probably a big contributing factor in the confusion (I mean, it's not really funny- why would anyone laugh at kids for believing in Santa unless they were a total dick? It makes no sense).
posted by Dwardles at 4:33 AM on November 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

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