By Peter Ibbotson —
Mauritius Times – 3rd Year No 82 – Friday 2nd March 1956
* The learned fool writes his nonsense in better language than the unlearned, but still ‘tis nonsense – Benjamin Franklin
Racism is rearing its ugly head in widely scattered spots. We have the unedifying spectacle of an ambitious young Negress, admitted to a university in Alabama, becoming the centre of a storm based on racial prejudice and on the desire to keep America white. And the demonstrations against Miss Lucy followed hot on the heels of the Washington Declaration, making immediate nonsense of its pious platitudes and outworn eyewash.
Events in the USA, following the demonstrations at Tuscaloosa against the admission of a negro to the university, have done nothing to justify the boast of the USA to be a free democracy. “We believe these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,” says the Declaration of Independence, on which the United States were founded. The case of Miss Lucy, like the notorious denial of civil rights to Negroes and trade unionists at Peekskill, gives the lie to this boast.
In South Africa, the Nationalist government is taking the final steps to remove coloured voters from the common roll. It was possible to do this only by packing the South African Senate with Nationalist supporters; and by a campaign smearing everyone as “Communist” who opposed the Nationalists’ policy of curbing civil rights and censoring incoming publications. (Not only magazines such as African and Colonial World, but also UNESCO pamphlets, have been banned from importation into South Africa).
The Nationalists base their actions solely on racism, on racial prejudice naked and unashamed. They have been condemned by all Christian communities in and out of South Africa – except the Dutch Reformed Church, which is the Nationalists’ own tame Church. Yet they go on their way, regardless of world opinion; as the British Weekly only recently suggested, South Africa should be excluded from the Commonwealth; for the modern way of dealing with dangerous diseases such as the plague is an isolation hospital. The knout and the jackboot, which brought Hitler to power in Germany and Mussolini to power in Italy, are bringing neo-Fascism to South Africa.
The USA and South Africa are two countries to which Noel Marrier d’Unienville (NMU) looks for succour in his self-appointed task of trying to keep Mauritius white, trying to stop its progress to democracy. And what do we see in those havens of whiteness, of racial purity, of Unienvilleny? Racial hatred; racial injustice; oppression of the coloured man by the white. No, thank you, M. le Raciste, we look at your pet countries and we don’t like what we see.
Outbreaks of racism are occurring up and down France. Not in France d’outre-mer, but in metropolitan France. Poujadism is neo-Fascism; the outbreaks of racism are allied to the success of Poojadolf and his intimidatory thugs. Moslems, Negroes, Algerians – all have been beaten up by rowdies and thugs in Paris and other towns in the last few months; and there is evidence that the gendarmerie has been little disposed to prevent the outbreaks. French periodicals such as Rivarol and Aspects de la France regularly act as mouthpieces for the fascists now slowly coming to the surface in France; coming to the surface fearfully like the rats that they are.
The review Truth says in its issue of February 10, on this very subject, “The pattern is of course a classical one. A society which feels its prestige and power single begins to adopt various postures to try to justify its shortcomings and give vent to its frustration… there is a hard core of fierce and angry men who have been mistaken so often and for so long that abuse is the only weapon still open to them… The targets are entirely traditional ones; … the practical impossibility of democracy and the general idiocy of the masses”.
Truth’s comment on the pattern of the emergence of Fascism in France can be applied very suitably to the spleen vented regularly in Le Cernéen. Think back at the regular ingredients of NMU’s columns: racial intolerance, contempt for democracy, the unfitness of anyone except his pet cronies to govern, abuse for anyone from the Governor down who happens to have said or done something to upset him, allegations of knoonism. And never is there a shred of proof brought forward to support any of his assertions. Posturing… so often and so long wrong… abuse is the only weapon left: Truth might well have been writing about Haine MU.
Indeed, when I read the flatulent Opinion du Jour, and consider the ineptitude of the sweeping allegations against Dr Ramgoolam, the Mauritius Labour Party and even (occasionally) myself, I think, that Shakespeare was prescient and had NMU in mind when he wrote:
“But man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d —
His glassy essence — like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep…”