Bleeding at my typewriter: Sleeping with Hitler

During the heydays of Apartheid, I was a little boy. By the late 80s I was a typical carefree, rebellious teenager. By 1994, I was a young adult and hopefully embraced the Rainbow Nation like most South Africans. I was lucky enough to have made this transition with ease. Race and colour never existed for me. Full stop.

Fast forward to 2017. Racism seems to be at an all-time high. I find the subject dour, boring and think our country suffers from some kind of schizophrenic immaturity. (I am not exactly sure what I mean by that but it sounded good). Last week, I was forced, screaming and kicking, into a discussion about racism. How intense is the racism in our country? Aren’t we just a bunch of over-sensitive, chip-on-the-shoulder, politically correct, safe-space-seeking sissies? Are people maybe inherently racist? Does hatred necessarily accompany racism? Has the race card become an excuse to avoid manning up and facing the country’s real problems? These were the questions asked, and I did not know. I did not even know if I cared. But hey, I would buy the ticket and take the ride and in the name of Gonzo journalism hurl myself into the heart of this whore called racism.

And then the universe presented the perfect opportunity for me to determine where our little republic lies on the racism scale.

An acquaintance gave me a bunch of books. (Mostly nonsense I do not read, like David Baldacci, Dan Patterson, Micheal Connolly, etc.). As I was sifting through the books on my bed, one, face down, caught my eye. I turned it over and my stomach turned. I could not pinpoint my emotions. It was somewhere between discomfort and guilt. There it was – Mein Kampf (My Struggle). Adolf Hitler’s lunatic ravings that lead to the murder of 6 million people based on their ethnicity. The original blueprint for racism.

Yip. I am going to read it. I want to understand what unadulterated racism is. Maybe then I will be able to treat the racism in our country differently. Maybe I will see it for what it is.

Yes, for the next week or so you will find the Bible, The Fox and the Flies by Charles van Onselen (which I am currently enjoying) and Mein Kampf on my bedside table.

In order to put this demon, who haunts my fellow beloved countrymen and women, into perspective for once and for all, I’ll be sleeping with Hitler.

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Riaan van Zyl

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