Candice Holdsworth

Rhodes Must Fall activists have become the very thing they hate

Rhodes Must Fall activists have become the very thing they hate
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A cruel stunt by a group of Rhodes Must Fall activists has exposed just how detached from reality the regressive left’s 'privilege' narratives are. Ntokozo Qwabe, one of the most prominent figures of Oxford’s 'Rhodes Must Fall' movement, has been publicly gloating on social media about humiliating a white waitress in Cape Town.

Showing a stunning lack of self-awareness, Qwabe, in his recollection of the incident, does not recognise that as a student of law at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, he is probably more privileged than a waitress working a minimum-wage job. Even if she is white and he is black.

Qwabe recounted on his Facebook page how he and a group of fellow RMF activists were eating at a café in the Cape Town suburb of Observatory on Thursday, when a white waitress approached them with the bill and a slip to write down the amount of gratuity they wished to pay. In extremely callous language, Qwabe gleefully describes how he and his dinner companions decided to write on the slip, 'WE WILL GIVE TIP WHEN YOU RETURN THE LAND.'

According to Qwabe, the waitress, upon seeing this, apparently started shaking then burst into tears. To which he responded with the glib comment, 'like why are you crying when all we’ve done is make a kind request lol'. And with impeccable spite he characterised her crying as, 'typical white tears'.

For a political movement that constantly talks of the need to examine 'power dynamics' you would think that they would be sensitive to the power differentials in that particular situation. What power did the white waitress have to defend herself from their bullying? She certainly didn’t want to risk her job.

It seems the poisonous politics of victimhood and racial division that Qwabe subscribes to has destroyed his ability to empathise with another human being. The waitress was just an ordinary person doing her job. She did not deserve to be treated in that way. The RMF dinner party were seemingly oblivious to that.

Did she have the political language to counter their accusations? Not everyone has a degree from an elite university nor the time and inclination to engage in those sorts of ideological debates. In fact, one could say that they took advantage of their position of relative power and exploited her comparative weakness. Which Qwabe demonstrates in the last few paragraphs of his Facebook post where he says:

'She exits to cry at the back & a white male colleague of hers reluctantly comes out to address us & to annoy us more with his own white tears telling us that he finds our act "racist". We start drawing him to the political nature of the act & why we couldn't be bothered that they decided to catch feelings from the note. We then chase him back to do his job. And continue with our conversation before exiting the café.'

We then chase him back to do his job. And continue with our conversation before exiting the café. In other words: speak when spoken to. Now scurry back to work.

Whatever happened to the old leftist notion of solidarity with the working class? That has clearly been abandoned in favour of fractious identity politics. Qwabe and his political ilk are so selfishly absorbed in their own self-declared 'pain' that they feel justified lashing out at an entirely innocent person whose own hurt they are incapable of registering. This is how political movements become the very things they hate.