It was all over the news – a man decided to randomly drop-kick action star and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Arnold Sports Festival held in Sandton over the weekend.
But while it trended on Twitter in South Africa, made headlines in local publications including The Citizen, TimesLive, News24, IOL, EWN and eNCA, and was covered widely internationally by CNN, BBC, The New York Times, The Guardian and Daily Mail to name but a few, according to former Western Cape premier Helen Zille the incident got “hardly any coverage that I noticed”.
Zille appears to have found a racial slant on the incident, arguing that if a black US celebrity had been attacked by a white South African – as opposed to the other way around – there would have been a “furore worldwide”, adding that in her opinion this shows “double standards”.
She was reacting to a tweet from Stan Louw, who is described in his Twitter biography as a Strategic Digital Consultant. According to his tweet, he says it is: “Sad how [Scwharzenegger] just got a taste of South African White Privilege. We are ashamed of about 67% of our country sir, we hate that you needed to experience this. Some useless tsotsi trying to dropkick an old man.”
His tweet received its fair share of backlash, with several users asking Louw where he got the figure “67%” from and questioning whether he was referring to black South Africans.
According to one user, the attacker in the Schwarzenegger incident was “Indian by the way”, information that would hardly be relevant but for the fact that Zille, in her tweet’s imagined reversal of the situation, appears to be assuming the man who committed the assault was black.
It has been reported that the organiser of Arnold Classic Africa, Wayne Price, believes the attack was carefully orchestrated, as the attacker is known for having performed similar stunts before.
Zille’s Schwarzenegger comment was the latest in a barrage of tweets Zille has sent in an attempt to both defend and expand on her controversial views on “black privilege”.
Zille initially started an argument after reacting to a clip of an American poet performing a piece on “white privilege” by asking why the poet was delivering it in English.
This tweet was met with disapproval from actor Hlomla Dandala, leading to a back and forth that culminated in the former Western Cape premier responding to a tweet about “white privilege” by defining “black privilege” as “being able to loot a country and get re-elected”.
Despite the controversy that ensued, Zille has continued with the same line of argument, doubling down and saying her tweet is a reaction to how white people, a “tiny minority” in South Africa, are “stigmatised”.