Leon Lemmer: Melanie Phillips: Van progessief tot behoudend

Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips (gebore in 1951) is ‘n Britse joernalis wat uit ‘n ouerhuis kom waarin dit vanselfsprekend was dat die Arbeidersparty ondersteun word. Sy het Engelse letterkunde aan St Anne’s College, Oxford University, bestudeer en daarna joernalistiek in Cardiff. As joernalis was sy agtereenvolgend verbonde aan leidende Britse koerante: The Guardian, The Observer, The Sunday Times en Daily Mail. Hierdie lys weerspieël hoe haar mening geleidelik van progressief na behoudend verander het; ‘n aanvanklik linkse “that has been mugged by reality.” Dieselfde kan gesê word van haar tydskrifartikels wat voorheen in New Society, New Statesman en later in die meer konserwatiewe The Spectator gepubliseer is. Tans lewer sy weekliks ‘n artikel in The Times.

Die van Phillips klink Brits maar is in werklikheid ‘n verengelsing van haar oupa se Poolse van. “My father’s father – who, according to family mythology, was given the name Phillips because the immigration officer couldn’t pronounce his Polish name” (2018-boek hier onder, Kindle 189). Dit herinner aan Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), maar anders as Conrad, vir wie Engels sy derde taal was, is Phillips in Londen gebore en is haar beheersing van Engels idiomaties en uitmuntend. Sy het verskeie boeke gepubliseer, bv All must have prizes (1996), waarin die polities byderwetse gelykverklaring van mense, die relativering van waardes en die ondermyning van gesag aan bod kom.

Die boektitel is ontleen aan ‘n frase in Lewis Carroll se Alice in Wonderland: “everybody has won, and all must have prizes” – soos wat graag oor die nuwe Suid-Afrika beweer word (‘n wen-wen-situasie) terwyl dit veel eerder die geval is dat almal verloor (‘n verloor-verloor-situasie). “In this book, I wrote that education standards had not only plummeted but education itself had been redefined. It was no longer the transmission of knowledge and culture, but a process of self-discovery by ‘autonomous meaning-makers’ – once known as pupils” (2018-boek, 1389). In die nuwe Suid-Afrika, waar minder as ooit op skool geleer word, het skoliere (“verouderd” – HAT) oornag leerders geword.

Phillips se teks is op die Britse skoolstelsel toegespits, maar dit herinner aan die Afrika-benadering waarvolgens alle swartes in dieselfde mate bevoordeel moet word, bv die jaarlikse toekenning van bonusse aan alle werkers en nie slegs aan diegene wat uitsonderlik produktief was nie. Dink ook aan swart skoliere en studente wat mbt eksamens eis: “Pass one, pass all.” “I could see for myself that teaching had been hijacked by left-wing ideology. Instead of being taught to read and write, children were being left to play in various states of anarchy on the grounds that any exercise of adult authority was oppressive and would destroy the innate creativity of the child” (2018-boek, 838).

In The world turned upside down: The global battle over God, truth and power (2010), spreek Phillips haar kommer uit oor die irrasionaliteit wat die hedendaagse wêreld oorspoel. Sy lewer ‘n pleidooi vir die terugkeer na rasionaliteit en religieuse tradisies. Phillips se eerste roman is onlangs gepubliseer: The legacy (2018). Phillips het veral bekendheid verwerf met die boek, Londonistan: How Britain has created a terror state within (2006), waarin sy aantoon in watter groot mate veral die Britse hoofstad, maar ook talle ander gebiede in veral Engeland, vermoslem het. Tien jaar later, in 2016, het Londen sy eerste Moslem burgemeester gekry. Kindle-weergawes van die laasgenoemde drie boeke is beskikbaar.

Ek het Londonistan in ‘n vorige rubriek bespreek (Praag 15.05.2016). Bv: “Londonistan verwys nie slegs na die Britse hoofstad nie, maar ook na vermoslemde areas in Britse nywerheidstede, wat die tradisionele aard van die Britse samelewing nie net verander het nie maar op die lange duur selfs kan vernietig … Weens kultuurverskille, dus nie-wittes se vreemde leefwyse, kon hulle nie so maklik soos blankes in die Britse samelewing geassimileer word nie. Die nie-blanke immigrante was geneig om eie monokulturele gebiede in Brittanje te vestig, wat veral in stede aangetref word en dikwels die aanskyn van krotbuurte aangeneem het … ‘the deadly fusion of an aggressive ideology [Islamism] and a society that thas lost its way [Britain] has led to the emergence of Londonistan.'”

Ek het pas Phillips se outobiografie gelees: Guardian angel: My journey from leftism to sanity (New York: Bombardier Books, 2018, 256p; Amazon Kindle $9,19). Daarin word sy beskryf as “Britian’s most controversial champion of national and cultural identity” (Kindle 2080). Die boektitel sinspeel op die bekendheid wat sy as joernalis by The Guardian verwerf het. Wat ek eienaardig vind, is haar lojaliteit aan die Verenigde Koninkryk in sy geheel, dermate dat sy ‘n eie Ierse en Skotse nasionalisme en kulturele identiteit ontken of ten minste as onaanvaarbaar beskou. Ek gaan nie oor haar familiegeskiedenis geskryf nie maar eerder oor ‘n aantal sake wat sy opper.

Op 23 Junie 2016 het 51,9% van die Britse kiesers in ‘n referendum die wens uitgespreek dat die Verenigde Koninkryk uit die Europese Unie (EU) moet tree. Daar was en is hewige meningsverskille tussen die Brexiteers en die Remainers. Die laasgenoemdes beweer massa-immigrasie het die uitslag deurslaggewend bepaal. Dit was ‘n groot terugslag vir “liberal, tolerant, outward-looking Remain” (66). “This view was rooted in the belief that the Western nation was the source of global oppression, bigotry and war. It therefore needed to be constrained by transnational institutions such as the EU and the United Nations, and by ‘universal’ laws such as human rights. Because transnationalism embodied the brotherhood of man, these institutions would necessarily supercede national parliaments and their laws” (79).

Die Brexiteers meen egter dat die hoofoorweging nie ontevredenheid met massa-immigrasie was nie maar “the desire for Britain to control its own policies and laws” (66). “On June 23, 2016, the British people found the courage to assert once again the rightfulness and desirablity of an independent Western democratic nation giving expression to its own historic culture, beliefs and laws” (86). Die referendumuitslag “represented the defeat of a progressive worldview that had been actively reshaping British and Western culture for more than half a century” (73).

Die verkiesing op 8 November 2016 van Donald Trump as Amerikaanse president word in dieselfde konteks as Brexit beskou. “He was brought to power by a revolt against a political and intellectual establishment which had long sought to erode America’s values at home and emasculate its power abroad” (92). “Both in voting for Brexit and for Donald Trump, the people were demanding the upholding of their core culture, the defense of their nation and the restoration of the democratic compact of citizenship with their country’s government” (98). Hier is daar duidelike verset teen die linkse siening “that the nation state was an oppressive western construct that was innately racist and inescapably created nationalism, conflict and war” (1504).

The Guardian was in Suid-Afrika berug vir wat hy oor apartheid gepubliseer het. Phillips was van 1977 tot 1998 aan hierdie koerant verbonde. Nadat sy bedank het, het hierdie koerant stemming teen Phillips gemaak deur haar as ‘n “human cactus” te beskryf (2013). Terugskouend skryf Phillips: “The defining feature of Guardian journalists [is] a narcissistic self-regard based upon a fixed belief in their own superiority and righteousness, nurtured by indulgence and privilege” (464). “We also admired what we told ourselves was the paper’s historically noble and principled stand in defence of liberty and justice and against oppression. We were proud of its nonconformist origins as the Manchester Guardian and proud of its legendary former editor CP Scott who coined the dictum, ‘comment is free but facts are sacred.’ It was only later that I realized there was more than a shred of truth in the old joke that Guardian news stories freely spun the facts while its editorial comment columns treated opinion as sacred. No one ever mentioned the paper’s unfortunate support in the 1930s for Stalinism, when it sacked its Moscow correspondent Malcolm Muggeridge [1903-1990] after he had tried to report the effects of the bureaucrat-induced famine in the Ukraine and Caucasus in which some six million people starved to death” (478).

Die destydse siening van die linkses/progressiewes het intussen nie verander nie: “Whereas the right seemed to believe the worst of people, we believed the best. They embodied darkness; we embodied light. They were about the past; we were always looking to the future” (492). “Whatever we said was, by definition, morally correct” (498). Dink aan “die donker tyd van apartheid” waaraan ons feitlik daagliks herinner word en die “moreel hoë grond” wat die ANC beklee, so hoog dat geen kwaad in die beoogde owerheidsdiefstal van blankes se eiendom gesien word nie.

“I always thought of myself as a liberal, in the classical English meaning of the word, which to me was another way of saying I believed in progress and the capacity of human beings to create a better world” (498). “Only much later did I realize that the left is fundamentally illiberal … everything not on the left was politically extreme” (505). In die Naspers/Media24-koerante word enige iemand wat regs van die sentrum is, verregs genoem. Wat vermoë tot wêreldverbetering betref, kan ons gerus erken dat alle mense nie eenders is nie. Ons kan daagliks waarneem dat net sommige mense/groepe die vermoë het om ‘n beter wêreld te skep. ‘n Ander gevolgtrekking waartoe Phillips gekom het, is: “The left didn’t like ordinary people and in particular the lower middle class, the striving class who believed in things like self-discipline and personal responsibility” (999). Regte eerder as verpligtinge word beklemtoon.

In die jare sestig het die swart burgerregtebeweging die Amerikaanse samelewing onherroeplik opgedonder; nie dat gelyke regte noodwendig verkeerd is nie, hoewel ‘n mens sou verkies dat sulke regte (in bv Amerika en Suid-Afrika) verdien en nie gewelddadig opgeëis word nie. Waarteen ek dit het, is dat swartes suiwer rassisties en dikwels sonder teenprestasie deesdae in buitensporige mate bo blankes bevoordeel word. In die jare sestig was daar in Brittanje ook ‘n kulturele revolusie, die “swinging sixties,” wat deur die beskikbaarstelling van die geboortebeperkingspil en die seksuele revolusie wat daarop gevolg het, moontlik gemaak is. ‘n Militante soort feminisme het sy kop uitgesteek.

“It was during the seventies and eighties when those ideas actually became embedded in British society, when the students and young agitators of the sixties became lawyers, teachers, university lecturers, civil servants, campaigners, thinktankers, and politicians – and thus captured the citadels of British culture, where they proceeded to undermine core values of education, family, law, and other cultural building blocks of society … There was virtually no questioning of the iron assumption that the poor and socially disadvantaged were inevitably the victims of circumstances rather than accountable for their own behavior” (538). Hoeveel groter en meer tragies is die Suid-Afrikaanse revolusie van 1990/94 nie? Apartheid, dus blankes, word die skuld vir iedere swart agterstand gegee.

Die uitgangspunt is dat almal gelyk/wesenlik eenders, bv (potensieel) ewe bekwaam, is. “‘Mindless egalitarianism’ … was leaving children ignorant and untaught” (1195). As in die praktyk blyk dat mense nie eenders is nie, word die swartes as die benadeelde slagoffers beskou en die blankes as die skuldiges wat moet opdok. “The left … had replaced truth with ideology and [their] weapon of choice against all dissent was vilification and demonization” (565). Byvoorbeeld, enigeen wat ‘n geluid maak wat polities nie korrek genoeg is nie, word sonder meer ‘n rassis genoem. Dit is nie vryheid nie; veel eerder ideologiese verslawing.

“Respect for authority both in and outside the classroom had collapsed. Knowledge had given away to creativity and spontaneity. Literacy had been redefined as un-reading. The essay had been supplanted by the imaginative story, replacing teaching children to think by allowing them to imagine. Teaching the rules of grammar or maths was frowned upon for stifling a child’s innate creativity. Right and wrong answers were no longer distinguished from each other; relativism reigned instead, and children were told to make it up as they went along” (1397). “Correcting children’s mistakes was an illegitimate exercise of power” (1403).

Kinders wat akademies beter as ander presteer, mag nie geloof word nie omdat dit die selfbeeld van minder talentvolle kinders ondermyn. Dit kan egter eerder ‘n geval wees van mindere toewyding as mindere talente. Die aandag van agtergeblewenes mag nie daarop gevestig word dat hulle agter raak en bly nie. ‘n Blanke mag nie spreekwoordelik van ‘n lid van ‘n ander ras/etnisiteit sê hy ‘n aap of bobbejaan nie. Die objek mag hierdie karakterisering hoogs nodig hê, maar volgens die HAT is albei neerhalende terme. “The outcome was a Lewis Carroll world in which failure of a child to learn to read was glorified as evidence of success. The result was mass functional illiteracy among school leavers, and associated behavioral problems by pupils excluded from classroom life through their inability to read. Even universities were forced to provide remedial courses for undergraduates to compensate for the gross inadequacies of the education system” (1403). Dit is ook waar van Suid-Afrika waar nie net funksionele tekstuele ongeletterdheid kenmerkend van sommige/baie skoolverlaters is nie maar ook/veral funksionele numerêre ongeletterdheid.

“My writing during the 1980s and 1990s reflected the fact that Britain was undergoing a cultural revolution … Fundamental assumptions and values were being challenged, attacked and undermined. The homogeneity of British society was being eroded by mass immigration, which was changing the face of the country. As socialism withered and the free market dominated, identity politics replaced economics” (1006). “This was not merely to transform family life, but also turn the understanding of what was normal and what transgressive* inside out” (1012). “The left was rejecting all external authority and embrasing instead moral and cultural relativism, the idea that ‘what is right’ is ‘what is right for me,’ and declaring any hierarchy of values illegitimate. But to me, this was a recipe for an amoral free-for-all in which freedom would die” (1012). Op ‘n soortgelyke manier word hiërargie by individue en groepe mense ontken; almal is bv ewe bekwaam en moreel goed. In werklikheid is daar mense wat werksgewys nie die mas opkom nie en moreel sodanig is dat hulle nie in die samelewing geduld behoort te word nie. [* “Transgressive {oortredend/oorskrydend}: involving a violation of moral or social boundaries.”]

As ondersoekende joernalis het Phillips “benadeelde” armes in hulle huise besoek. Te midde van die vullis was daar luukse goedere soos video-opnemers, vrieskaste en duur fietse. “What I saw was a spiritual poverty that could not be explained away by material deprivation” (585). ‘n Feitlik onontbeerlike item in ‘n arm huishouding is ‘n televisiestel. Die SABC het onlangs genoem dat hy nie sokkeruitsendings op radio kon bekostig nie omdat hy nie geld vir duur sportuitsendings het nie. Die SABC het hierdie versoek simpatiek oorweeg omdat dit hoofsaaklik swartes is wat sokkeruitsendings begeer. Wat polities korrek nie genoem is nie, is dat indien die oorgrote meerderheid swartes vir televisie-uitsendings betaal, sou die SABC oorgenoeg geld hê vir die uitsending van sokkerwedstryde op radio én televisie. Voorspelbaar het die SABC sedertdien geld gevind om sokkerwedstryde op radio uit te saai.

Dit is hierdie nie-betaalkultuur wat veroorsaak dat diegene wat wel televisielisensies het, eersdaags vir dekodeerders sal moet opdok terwyl die nie-betalers op groot skaal van gratis dekodeerders voorsien gaan word. Die huidige bevoordeeldes gaan dus verder bevoordeel word. Die huidige benadeeldes gaan verder benadeel word. Normaalweg kyk ek nie televisie nie. Dit was ‘n riem onder die hart om te lees: “I knew that having the TV on in the middle of the day was a sign of moral weakness” (293). Die bekendste lewende, konserwatiewe Britse filosoof, Roger Scruton, het nie ‘n televisiestel nie, maar hy het sy twee kinders soms toegelaat om by die bure te gaan kyk. Omdat so baie mense in hulle vryetyd as afleiding eerder televisie kyk as om hulleself geestelik te verryk deur bv te lees, het die “sportsterre” multimiljoenêrs geword. Baie van hulle het skynbaar nie tyd om te skeer nie maar hulle vind tyd om op die veld te spoeg, hulle hare te kleur en hulle op ander maniere te mismaak, bv om hulle (oormatig) te laat tatoeëer.

Diskriminasie teen blankes word nie rassediskriminasie genoem nie, maar regstelling. Owerheidsdiefstal van blankes se eiendom word nie nasionalisering genoem nie maar teruggawe, asof die huidige swartes, anders as die huidige blankes, ooit wettige aanspraak op bv daardie plase gehad het. Die staatsdepartement wat met die owerheidsdiefstal van veral blankes se eiendom gemoeid is, word Landelike Ontwikkeling genoem. Swart bevoordeeldes word benadeeldes genoem. “This is the core of what we now know today as ‘political correctness’ through which concepts are turned into their polar opposite in order to give miscreants a free pass if they belong to certain groups designated by the left as ‘victims.’ They are thus deemed to be incapable of doing anything wrong, while groups designated as ‘oppressors’ can do no right” (696). “This twisted thinking is what now passes for ‘progressive’ thinking in Britain and America” (703).

Iets anders wat Phillips as ondersoekende joernalis vasgestel en oor geskryf het, is “the refusal to teach Standard English on the grounds that this was ‘elitist'” (889). “Teachers wrote to me in despair at the pressure not to impose Standard English on children on the grounds that this was discriminatory. They knew that, on the contrary, this was to abandon those children to permanent servitude and ignorance” (895). “The problem was the number of bad teachers who were turning good teachers into a beleaguered minority” (902). “Dissent was being silenced, and those who ran against the orthodoxy were being forced to operate in secret; worse still, the very meaning of concepts such as education, teaching and knowledge was being unilaterally altered, and thousands of children, particularly those at the bottom of the social heap, were being abandoned to ignorance and institutionalized disadvantage” (915).

In Amerika is daar ‘n soortgelyke verskynsel. Pleks van onderrig in Standard American English aan swartes te verskaf, word druk uitgeoefen dat swartes in Black English onderig moet word omdat dit hulle moedertaal is. Soms, veral in die Suide, word dit Ebonics genoem, wat glo die taal was waarin die swart slawe probeer het om met hulle (wrede) wit eienaars te kommunikeer; soortgelyk aan die manier waarop Afrikaans na bewering ontstaan het. Dat daar baie fiksie/mites in die ontstaan van Ebonics is, blyk uit die feit dat daar min woorde van Afrika-oorsprong in die Engels van swart Amerikaners is. Daar is heelwat meer wat oor hierdie onderwerp gesê kan word: “Die ebonisering van Kaaps” (Praag 16.02.2014). Insgelyks is daar min woorde in Afrikaans wat aan bv die Khoi-San en die Maleis van die destydse slawe toegeskryf kan word. Maar die handvol Afrikaanse woorde van nie-wit oorsprong word deesdae tot vervelens toe gelys terwyl die olifant in die taalkamer, die Afrikaanse woorde wat uit bv Nederlands en Duits oorgeneem is, verswyg word; om nie te praat van die groot aantal Afrikaanse woorde wat vindingryke Afrikaners geskep het en steeds skep nie.

Phillips keer telkens terug na maatskaplike kwessies. “By far my biggest break with the left … was over the breakdown of the family. In the late 1980s, I noticed that the institution of the family was suffering a ‘chronic crisis of identity and self-confidence.’ There were more and more divorces and single parents; at the same time parents were becoming less confident in managing their children” (1045). “Fatherless families [were] at least partly responsible for a national breakdown in authority and rising levels of crime” (1052). Let op hierdie skewe (feministiese) siening: Distansiëring vind plaas “from the bad old days when simply everyone was miserable because marriage chained women to men who, as everone with the correct view knew for a fact, were basically feckless wife-beaters and child abusers as well as being irrationally prejudiced against the opposite sex” (1085).

Dit is bekend dat die meeste swart kinders in Suid-Afrika vaderloos grootgeword het en dat die buitensporig hoë voorkoms van misdaad (veral) hieraan toegeskryf word. Die tragedie is dat hierdie slegte voorbeeld van vaderlose gesinne al hoe meer in die Weste nagevolg word. “During the 1990s, the ultra-feminist agenda behind the willed breakdown of the traditional family became even boulder in attacking its real target: men. It seemed to me to be driven by women who were declaring, offensively and stupidly, that men were a waste of space and that no sensible woman ‘would take one home'” (1455). Dink aan wat mense soos Amanda Gouws en Christi van der Westhuizen aangemoedig/toegelaat word om in die hoofstroomkoerante kwyt te raak; mans as suurstofdiewe. Sulke uitlatings kan as “emotional incontinence” (emosionele swakblasigheid) beskou word (1559).

“The left had become the sum of various interest groups all out for their own particular causes such as single parenthood, homosexuality, or animal rights” (1202). Phillips se gevolgtrekking is: “The destruction of the traditional family had as its real target the destruction of Biblical morality” (1118). “What I saw so clearly in the areas of education or family … was in essence the displacement of truth by ideology” (1138). Dít het sy vroeër soos volg geformuleer: “Truth was being sacrificed to expediency. Evidence would be denied if the consequences were too inconvenient” (1079). Hierin lê, in ‘n neutedop, ‘n verduideliking van die onverkwiklike situasie waarin die Weste, insluitende blank Suid-Afrika, hom bevind. Die ideologie wat besig is om Westerse beskawing te vernietig, is kulturele marxisme, dikwels politieke korrektheid genoem (1277). Een van die kernmaniere waarop gepoog word om die Weste kultureel te verslaan, is om die gesin af te breek. Sogenaamde selfdegeslaghuwelike is een van die maniere waarop dit gedoen word. Namate al hoe meer gesinne disfunksioneel word, word dit al hoe moeiliker om ‘n funksionele, vreedsame, voorspoedige, gelukkige samelewing in stand te hou.

“Truth was being sacrificed to expediency” kan as ‘n “cultural nervous breakdown” beskou word (1559). Ek volstaan met twee plaaslike voorbeelde. Eerstens, in die Universiteit Stellenbosch (US) se Eeufeesjaar (2018) kies Wim de Villiers openlik en sonder dat hy daadwerklike teenstand ondervind om eerder Nelson Mandela as Jan Marais te huldig. Mandela sou De Villiers se verengelsing van die US geloof het terwyl dit teen die grein van Marais se stigtingsvoorwaarde ingaan. In die nuwe Suid-Afrika kan De Villiers mos nie verkeerd wees as hy hom eerder by ‘n swarte as ‘n blanke skaar nie.

Tweedens, sedert 1994 is die agteruitgang van die gehalte van Afrikaans onrusbarend opvallend. Hierdie kreeftegang verkry al hoe meer momentum. Dit is die enkele kenmerk van die Afrikaans van ná 1994 wat nie misgekyk kan word nie. Desnieteenstaande voer Afrikaansinstansies en Afrikaansdosente nie ‘n veldtog om suiwerder Afrikaans te bevorder nie. Die rede hiervoor is dat die sprekers van Kaaps, dus van geradbraakte Afrikaans, polities korrek nie aanstoot gegee mag word nie. Dit is ‘n sprekende voorbeeld van misplaaste voorkeur: dat onderdanigheid aan politieke korrektheid belangriker as die heil van Afrikaans geag word. Diegene wat so lou/halfhartig oor Afrikaans is, laat my dink aan: “Maar nou, omdat hulle lou is, nie warm en ook nie koud nie, gaan Ek julle uit my mond uitspoeg” (Openbaring 3:16).

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