Juju the play-play generalissimo is just a ‘Mister’ to me
Just because the EFF has agreed to call Malema by his made-up military rank, doesn't mean everybody else has to
This is a small story in the grander scheme of things, but I need to say it: henceforth, you will address me as Lord of All That Creeps Upon The Earth. And if you question this title, you’re a bigot working for Stratcom.
I have come to this decision after reflecting on the many, many tweets, sent to me by the devoted followers of the EFF this week.
The reason for this deluge of twittering was a tweet I wrote on Wednesday afternoon.
Journalists who refer to Julius Malema as “CIC”, I suggested, are not in fact journalists. At best they are bro bono stenographers (a magnificent description coined by Nic Dawes), but mostly they’re just fans.
There was an almost audible gasp from revolutionary cyberspace, and then the tweets starting pouring in.
One of the first asked me if I was trying to be popular. This was a rather silly question. If you want to be popular in this country you don’t write words. Instead, you stand on a podium and make promises you’ll never have to keep.
Another presented me with a Facebook meme, drolly pointing out that, even though there are 8,000 nerve endings in the clitoris, “it still isn’t as sensitive as a white man on the internet”. A meme responding to a tweet about a politician making stuff up: I won’t claim that it was Chomsky versus Zizek but it was one way to spend an evening.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking: but Lord of All That Creeps Upon The Earth, why are you writing about a banal little Twitter spat when you should be examining Gwen Ngwenya’s revelation that the DA isn’t interested in developing policy?
Well, the honest answer is that that isn’t news. The DA’s idea of policy is “Jacob Zuma Is Coming To Eat Your Baby!” The only budget you need to develop more of that sort of policy is the cost of two dozen beers and a length of boerewors.
And besides, the Twitter spat has presented me with my new name.
The person who presented it most clearly was Dali Mpofu, the EFF’s national chairperson and recent defender of Tom Moyane.
He arrived in my Twitter mentions in a cloud of steam, having apparently been touched on both studios.
“You are both MAD & utterly STUPID!” he tweet-yelled at me. “Your bias & bigotry have consumed your brain cells. It would be unprofessional conduct to refer to Malema other than as President or CiC. The EFF is a REGISTERED political party in SA. Its Constitution refers to that position. Get it?”
I sure do, Advocate. The 94% of South Africans who didn’t vote for the EFF all got it a long time ago.
But his tweet wasn’t only significant for its rage. It was also remarkable because it neatly paraphrased a bizarre belief flung at me again and again in tweet after tweet: the party had agreed to call Malema by his made-up military rank, so journalists should do it too. To object to this was to reveal one’s innate racism, arrogance, hypocrisy and corruption.
Some attempted logic to argue the point. If it was wrong for journalists to call Malema “CIC”, surely they should also stop describing Elizabeth Windsor as a “queen”? And what about so-called “Premier” Helen Zille?
Astonishingly, even these excellent efforts failed to hide a fundamental disconnect: many people, it turns out, believe there is no difference between a real job title and a fabricated one. To them, being a play-play generalissimo is exactly the same as being an actual queen (however peculiar such a thing might be) or an actual premier.
Of course, people can call themselves whatever they want. If you start a private club and write it into the rules that you have to be referred to as the Pope, then that’s between you and your fellow fantasists.
But the moment you insist that people outside your club also start calling you Your Holiness, well, then people might start giggling and whispering. Because there’s already a Pope, and you’re not it, see?
Julius Malema is welcome to call himself Commander In Chief. His followers are welcome to enable that fantasy. But, no matter how militantly they tweet, they are not an army. He holds no military rank. His self-appointed title is simply good political branding.
So I’ll say it again. If you’re a supporter of the EFF, salute your “CIC” until the nationalised cows come home. For the rest of us, however a simple “Mister” will do just fine. Unless you’d prefer to call me Lord of All That Creeps Upon The Earth?