Our society is becoming more divided by the day. With this divisiveness, we have seen many hateful, fascist radical groups and individuals emerge to suppress and victimise various leaders, journalists and activists who have differing opinions, and who speak out against them. This is exceptionally concerning considering the fact that we live in a constitutional democracy that ensures that its people have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of expression and, of course, freedom of the press.
I find it quite intriguing that parallel events are happening in the United States of America and in South Africa. Both countries have groups that seek to intimidate and suppress the media, active citizens and leaders. In the USA, Donald Trump's twitter warfare with CNN and other news groups continues to undermine the image of free media in the USA and the actual facts that the media includes in its articles. What was even more preposterous was when the supposed "Leader of the Free World" posted a Gif of him fighting CNN.
This mere act by a President incites violence and perpetuates fascism and totalitarianism. His supporters, some being a part of the alt right movement, launch discriminatory attacks against people of colour, women, Muslims, Latinos and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Moreover, Trump's camp is the epitome of fake news and propaganda as it has been caught a number of times posting fake news articles, fake facts on online posts and has essentially driven a campaign of lies and secrecy, the latest example being cover up stories to hide the fact that Donald Trump's son met with Russians before the election.
In South Africa, the main source of fake news and propaganda has been unveiled as Bell Pottinger, a PR firm in London that was tasked by the Guptas, a rich family that has massive influence over the South African President and the executive, to create content that was racially divisive and incited racial hatred.
This ultimately caused massive harm in South Africa especially since the country is recovering from the abhorrent legacies of apartheid and colonialism. In addition to this, the recent actions of various organisations in South Africa, have caused major concern as they have openly victimised journalists who were reporting on corruption in South Africa, mainly Gupta related corruption. Moreover, Fake News websites have been launching and publishing false content within the last year.
Although it is perfectly fine to be critical of the media and call it out on its bias, it should never be acceptable in a constitutional democracy to intimidate, victimise and suppress the media from performing its functions. Doing the latter are actions of fascism and totalitarianism which are considered immoral and unconstitutional in both South Africa and the United States of America since these countries are constitutional democratic states.
Thin lines between democracy and fascism are forming and the rise of groups that seek to suppress and intimidate others is a problem that needs to be solved.
The sad reality is that suppression and intimidation occur on many levels in our society as well. Individually speaking, I know people who have been victims of tactics of suppression and victimisation. As I type this, I think of ANC MP Dr Makhosi Khoza, a strong, formidable woman who has spoken out against corruption and in return, she has received death threats and is being stalked every day. I have been a victim of attacks too.
Not only do trolls attack myself and others on social media for fighting for justice and equality for all human beings, but I've received physical hate mail on my own door because I speak out against injustices such as racism, sexism, homophobia, queerphobia, Islamophobia and xenophobia. We are living in an era in our society that is dangerous and concerning.
Thin lines between democracy and fascism are forming and the rise of groups that seek to suppress and intimidate others is a problem that needs to be solved. The only current solution we have is to be active citizens and to take part in movements, discussions and events that seek to uphold the principles and values of democracy and our Constitution rather than allowing it to be dismantled by those who simply seek to benefit a small group of individuals.