Quote of the week

Both the constructive disagreement intrinsic to science and the adversarial scrutiny necessary to politics disappear in this invocation of science as the ultimate authority – this trick will become familiar in the coming months. An extraordinary emergency requires extraordinary powers; no one disagrees with that. But it is politics, not science, which grants these powers legitimacy. How long will they endure?

James Butler
London Review of Books
30 January 2008

(Not) talking about race in South Africa

Eusebius McKaiser has an excellent piece in the Business Day this morning in which he argues that we need to talk about race, rather than avoid talking about it. Money Quote:

[We] have an irrational fear of race discourse that must be abandoned. White South Africans, in particular, fear that mere talk about “black” and “white” implies that we cannot relate to each other as individuals. This fear is understandable. But it is also hasty.

What is beautiful about human relations is the natural curiosity we have to explore the shades of differences between ourselves — appearances, personalities, intelligence, ideologies, etc. The value pluralism on which our liberal democracy is based stems explicitly from an acceptance that differences need not be divisive.

The eruption of violence in Skielik speaks to the fact that when we let differences fester like a wound we would rather not attend to, we could lose part of our national body — like the four innocent citizens of Skielik.

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