South Africans are smart critical thinkers who aren’t influenced by our personal bias, right?
Will you agree with something you normally wouldn’t just as long as it’s phrased in a way that’s critical towards the ANC? Desmond Tutu held a press conference yesterday after receiving numerous requests to speak about 20 years of democracy. He was quite critical of the ANC and said he wouldn’t vote for them. So far so good.
I’ve seen no outcry in the press over his comments. Everyone is quite happy to publish critical stuff of the ANC without attacking Tutu. Comments on the IOL article say things like:
"You can always trust the arch to speak his mind. How many in the ANC condemn JZ but is too afraid to voice their own convictions?"
"The Arch has become such an amazing man over the years. He has risen above the ANC years ago, I really respect him and care for him. Go Tutu !! champion !!"
"My sentiments too. If you want a society where people matter, don”t vote anc."
But what he actually said was this:
'[Tutu] says the ANC government “horrendously sabotaged” the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by not implementing recommendations like the wealth tax to benefit people who suffered under apartheid. “The wealth tax would have made our economic situation different today and the rich agreed to paying it.”'
So does this mean that suddenly people think a wealth tax (as proposed by Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission) is a good idea? I still do, but the last time Tutu brought this up (in 2011), there was a big outcry in the press.
Reaction from the comments, also from an article on IOL:
When does it end? BEE, AA, nationalisation. Please impose your racist wealth tax. I have no interest in you, or South Africa. You can have ‘your’ lands back.
Thats strange, because my barber, who is equally as qualified in socio-economics, disagrees.
With a statement like this perhaps too much communion wine hey Arch?
Desmond, I have worked and paid my taxes for 40 years, and managed to scrimp and save so that I wouldn’t be a burden on the state now that I’m reaching retirement age - now you want me to pay wealth tax? … Nobody is going to take away from me what I have worked 40 years for! Go and get stuffed! Unfortunately that is typical of blacks all over the world, this air of entitlement - they do bugger all and expect the white man to share their hard earned wealth with some useless lazy person who breeds indiscriminately and wants a job but doesn’t want to work!
I hope he dies soon.
Of course, this is a reminder to avoid comments but there was very little positive reaction from the press (or white South Africans) on this idea. Yet now, when the wealth tax is couched in language critical to the ANC, Tutu gets a positive hearing.
This is a reminder that confirmation bias affects our critical thinking (and a reminder that perhaps a wealth tax is a good idea after all!). It also shows how smart Tutu is - he’s not simply criticising the ANC (and simultaneously celebrating how much progress SA has made and the good our democratic government has done); he’s doing it in such a way to show the bias of the media and invite us to think more deeply about our own biases.