Letter: What Frans Cronje really said - Businesslive

26 April 2019 - Dwelling on a speech in March by Institute of Race Relations (IRR) CEO Frans Cronje, Bruce claims this address “ended up calling the people it disagreed with (me, basically) ‘utterly mad’.” He is wrong on two counts; Cronje did not mention Bruce at all; nor did he describe any individual, commentator or otherwise, as “mad”.

Peter Bruce generously highlights our commitment and contribution to championing free speech but mistakes himself as the target of our argument about why vigorous and open debate is critical to South Africans making better choices about their future,  in Fate of Jiba and Mrwebi an easy decision, April 25.

Dwelling on a speech in March by Institute of Race Relations (IRR) CEO Frans Cronje, Bruce claims this address “ended up calling the people it disagreed with (me, basically) ‘utterly mad’.” He is wrong on two counts; Cronje did not mention Bruce at all; nor did he describe any individual, commentator or otherwise, as “mad”.

Cronje sketched a picture of a [government], under mounting fiscal and political pressure, displaying “ever more dangerous behaviour” — including turning with ease to “hate-filled racial nationalist rhetoric”, siding “too comfortably with the worst pariah regimes the world has to offer”, offering “more state encroachment” to counter depressed economic conditions, addressing poverty “via redistribution, historical injustices via expropriation, racial divisions via the stricter enforcement of racial quotas”, and moving swiftly “towards eroding the property rights that anchor human liberty in all free societies” risking the “further erosion of civil rights and the rule of law”.

Cronje went on: “Too many analysts try to rationalise or normalise this behaviour to the point that they would have us believe that what we see with our own eyes is not really happening; that there is nothing to be concerned about, it is all part of an elaborate ‘long game’ that ends with a ‘new dawn’. The argument goes something like this: the state/ruling party only assaults property rights/racial minorities/conservative blacks/Western democracies/the market economy/freedom of speech and the rule of law in order to outwit those who would otherwise do so.

“And that in order to prevent such assaults you must support those leading the assaults, and even join in the assaults, because only if those now driving the assaults become even more powerful will they stop doing that which they are already so far advanced in doing. Give them a bigger electoral mandate, therefore, and the processes now in train will miraculously reverse themselves to produce a new dawn where property rights are secure; race and social relations are sound; the private sector rebuilds the economy; and civil rights and the rule of law are secured. It is all quite, completely, and utterly mad.”

It is plain that Cronje’s point is that strengthening rather than challenging the ruling party — whatever the qualities or potential of its leader — is not a rational response to the risks. This is an argument, not an ad hominem attack, nor an attempt to silence a countervailing opinion.

Michael Morris 
Head of media, Institute Of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2019-04-26-letter-what-frans-cronje-really-said/

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