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Saturday 29 June 2013

Mail White Frightener

[Update at end of post]

Have there been too many column inches devoted to speculation about the state of South Africa after Nelson Mandela passes? Not in the Daily Mail, there haven’t: “Mandela's passing and the looming threat of a race war against South Africa's whites. As a widow mourns the latest murdered Afrikaner farmer, a chilling dispatch from a nation holding its breath” demonstrates this magnificently.
No, I haven't got a f***ing twitchy right arm, c***

The recipe is as with so many other Mail targets: take a sample of one – a farmer shot dead by intruders – and freely extrapolate from there, selecting only those views that support the direction signposted by the headline, before throwing in a scrap of counter argument at the end, well after the point when the readership will already have made up its mind – or had it made up for it.

There was no “race war” in 1994, when the African National Congress (ANC) formed a Government after South Africa’s first elections under a universal franchise. There was no “race war” when Mandela stepped down in 1999. But the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre knows that his readership is overwhelmingly white, and equally susceptible to the occasional frightener.

So the narrative goes to a gated Afrikaner community, which claims not to be racist, except there are no black people there (they get round that one by insisting that everyone speaks Afrikaans). Behind the security fences, the Mail finds voices telling that the blacks are going to come and murder them. Zimbabwe is mentioned. Readers are ushered gently but firmly to the required conclusion.

The reality of South Africa, as with so much of the Mail’s selective hackery, is rather different, and less easy to categorise. The murder rate is appalling, at 31.8 per 100,000 of the population (the UK comes in at 1.2, and the USA at 4.8. Even Zimbabwe is better, at 14.3). But it is not just well-off whites who are living in gated communities: this applies to all ethnicities.

Guns are getting harder to obtain, but the problem is that there are so many out there already: around six million, or 12 per 100 of the population. Many keep guns in their homes in the belief that they need them to protect themselves: the reality is that they are four times more likely to have those guns used against them instead. Private security firms are proliferating, as fear of burglary, and worse, continue.

But the murder rate, despite being so high, is actually falling. The problem is, with so many guns out there, the process is likely to be long and painful. The legacy of the most brutal part of Apartheid is also yet to heal. And there is still widespread poverty and unemployment. But most black people want less crime just as much as their white neighbours – along with jobs.

That is why the Daily Mail’s 1930s throwback is so totally out of order.

[UPDATE 1430 hours: as Africa Check has pointed out, white South Africans are less likely to be murder victims than any other racial group. A 2009 study found that whites made up 1.8% of murder victims, even though they comprise 8.85% of the population. It concluded that the murder rate for whites was equal to, or even less than, it had been between 1979 and 1991 - the later Apartheid years.

Moreover, Adrian Malone, who wrote the Mail article, has form for slanted copy: his was the name on the by-line of "The wild, raunchy past of Foxy Knoxy", yet another of those "Amanda Knox did it" pieces. There have been more: Septicisle has the details right HERE. So Dacre knew full well the kind of copy that was going to come in.

It's another example of selecting the facts to fit the conclusion. So no change there, then]

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