A lecturer at the University of Cape Town is being called out after making shocking comments about Adolf Hitler.
During a recorded lecture Dr Lwazi Lushaba, who teaches in the Department of Political Science at UCT, said:
Hitler committed no crime. All Hitler did was to do to white people what white people had normally reserved for black people.
This is said to not be the first time Lushaba has made a statement that results in backlash towards the lecturer. He is believed to have made similar comments to first year students in previous years, however this year because of remote teaching the lecture was recorded.
The matter is now being internally investigated by the University as they responded on social media:
UCT had been alerted to and notes with grave concern comments allegedly made by a staff member during an online class. We are verifying all the facts. In the meantime, UCT is clear that all brutalities of genocide constitute both formal crimes against humanity and ongoing sources of pain.
The University then emphasised that they distance themselves "very strongly" from any other view and that the matter is receiving attention through all appropriate channels.
This comment then lead to backlash from many, including a number of academics.
Jonathan Jansen, a Professor of Education at the University of the Witwatersrand, had a go at Lushaba and said:
... the positive referencing of Hitler is more than attention-seeking behaviour by the intellectually vacuous. They reveal the utter depravity of the public discourse on university campuses today
Jansen further commented, "I wonder where UCT’s Black Academic Caucus stands on the Hitler affirming lecturer, Lushaba? Asking for a principled friend".
Although Jews were the primary victims of Hitler's genocide, many other groups were targeted for death as they didn't fit Hitler's views of a superior race. His stated policies were towards promoting his idea of a superior 'aryan race' which was blond-haired and blue eyed. Any groups deemed by Hitler to be deviating from this ideal were also targeted for execution. This include Roma Gypsies, Slavs, Poles, homosexuals, people with disabilities, Catholics, and many others. More than 6 million people were killed by the Nazis during the Second World War. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocaust_victims
Natasha Mazzone, the DA Chief Whip, has said that the political party plans to register a complaint with the SA Human Rights Commission and is calling for Lushaba to be suspended.
TimesLive reported that when asked about the insensitive and offensive nature of his comments Dr Lushaba responded: “If you knew what university lectures are, you won’t be asking me that question you are asking me.” TimesLive
Universities promote the concept of free speech and academics are allowed to ask provocative questions. However under the South African Constitution there is a limit to what can be defended under the right to free speech. Initial reports suggest that Dr Lushaba was not posing a question for debate but was rather stating his view as a fact.
If the comments are referred to the SA Human Rights Commission they will have to determine whether claim that 'Hitler committed no crime' would enjoy the protection of the Constitution or would rather be classified as hate speech.
Dr Lushaba was very involved in the Fees Must Fall movement and is therefore very popular with many students and academics who also supported the calls for free higher education.