Lessons to learn from the Afrikaner controversy


It’s been an enlightening few weeks.

  • On June 15th, in response to a panegyric that was so over-the-top it was nauseating, I published an article titled “No, the Afrikaners were NOT ‘The Heroic White Tribe of Africa’ “.  To say that it attracted negative feedback is an understatement.  From the attacks launched in the comments beneath that article, you’d think I was assaulting truth, justice and the American way (if not motherhood and apple pie into the bargain).
  • In response to those attacks, I wrote a follow-up article a week later titled “Defending my thesis about South Africa and the Afrikaners“.  Again, it was greeted by very negative comments, which you can read for yourself at the link.
  • Finally, to put the cherry on top, as it were, three days ago Instapundit linked to my first article.  The comments on Instapundit were almost uniformly vitriolic, to put it mildly.

I think there are several important lessons displayed by the reaction to my articles.  I’d like to lay them out here, in the hope that they may help some people think more clearly.  I daresay I won’t convince most of my critics, because they made their mind up long ago.  Nevertheless, there are some people who still have an open mind on the subject;  so here goes.

First, note that the vast majority of negative comments did not address a single point I made.  I’d taken care to provide links to support my claims, and/or cited specifics that are very easy to check in the history books.  Nothing I said about historical fact was a lie;  everything could be confirmed – yet it was almost universally ignored by respondents.  Instead, they raised all sorts of different points, as if unwilling or unable to answer those I’d made.  I found that very revealing about their motivation.

There’s an old saw in the legal profession.  It goes something like this:

  • If the facts are against you, argue the law.
  • If the law is against you, argue the facts.
  • If the facts and the law are against you, discredit the witness.

I submit that’s exactly what many of those who attacked my views are doing.  They couldn’t dispute the facts, so they criticized me as an apologist for blacks, or because I ignored what they saw as the reality of race relations, or whatever.  It’s a classic case of “discredit the witness”, or what in other circles would be termed “shooting the messenger“.  It’s also fundamentally dishonest in its refusal to face the facts.

Second, many of the respondents introduced untruths to support their criticisms.  I’m not saying that all of them were deliberately lying (although I’m sure some were), but many had clearly been at least indoctrinated or misinformed.  For example, one of the most frequent claims was that, as Afrikaners advanced into the interior of southern Africa, they found it empty, devoid of black tribes.  This is completely false.  It’s a shibboleth put out by the Afrikaners decades ago, trying to justify their nonsensical claim that South Africa belonged to them as pioneers, not to Black tribes who were trying to stake their own claims.  (I addressed that point in the second article, pointing out that “If [the Afrikaners] were alone, who were they fighting?” – a reference to the many bloody conflicts in southern Africa between black and white during the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.)

Third, the respondents almost uniformly made no distinction between the individual and the group.  To my mind, this is the most fatal flaw in the arguments of those who argue that this, or that, or the other race is deficient, or inferior, or flawed, compared to another.  To say that any race is more violent, brutish, uncivilized, etc. is untenable when one considers that the same race will almost certainly produce highly distinguished individuals who would be a credit to any group.  If all of them are “bad”, how can some individuals be “good”?

Yes, Africa as a whole is pretty much a basket-case, as I’ve freely admitted in these pages.  Black tribal culture and everything that goes with it is one of the most important reasons why that’s so.  Nevertheless, that reality can’t be allowed to become an excuse for the inhuman way that Afrikaners and their sympathizers treated other races.  To coin a phrase, “two wrongs don’t make one right”.

Of course, if the majority of any given race or group or religion behave in a negative way, every member of such a group will be regarded by other groups with suspicion and dislike.  I spoke about that when considering the terror attacks in Paris in late 2015.  The comments made about Muslims in that article can be applied to any group that another perceives as a threat, irrespective of race.  In Northern Ireland, it’s Catholics versus Protestants.  In Ukraine, it’s Ukrainians versus Russians.  In Syria, it’s fundamentalist Islamic terrorists versus the Assad regime.  The opposing sides hate, fear and demonize each other six ways from Sunday.  The Afrikaner-black South African conflict is no different.

I’d like to circle back to the argument I made earlier:  that most respondents didn’t address the points I’d made, but rather argued about other points and issues that were/are more important or relevant to them.  I think this is critical in such a discussion.  If we allow that to happen, we aren’t talking to each other, but past each other.  Even Adam Piggott, whose opinions I respect and who has replied to me in two articles on his blog, appears to have fallen into this trap to some extent.  I’d like to elaborate.

I never once spoke about tribes in general, or races in general, or culture in general.  I addressed the very specific acts of Afrikaners, and the policies that they implemented, as the reason why they were now facing opprobrium, violence and marginalization in South Africa.  Respondents have almost all avoided facing that reality.  Instead, they’ve argued that what’s happening to the Afrikaner is because of a wider conflict that’s occurring all over the world;  even that it represents what will happen if blacks as a group take over anywhere.  I did not address those issues at all, and I will not, because the subject I tackled was very specific, and should still be.

If respondents will not address the plain, simple, historical facts of what the Afrikaners did, and why those acts have led to their present situation, they are ignoring the point at issue.  It’s very simple.  If the Afrikaners did not do those things, then I’m a liar, and I should (rightly) be pilloried as such.  Furthermore, the rationale for the current oppression of Afrikaners is undermined.  However, if the Afrikaners did do those things, then they are as guilty of human rights abuses – even atrocities – as the Serbs and Croats in former Yugoslavia, or the Soviets in Afghanistan, or the Chechens in the former Soviet Union, or . . . you get the idea.  If they’re guilty, the way they’re being treated now becomes much easier to understand.  It doesn’t condone or excuse it, but it explains it.  It’s not about broader race issues:  it’s that “they sowed the wind, and now they reap the whirlwind“.  Sadly, most commenters are largely refusing to acknowledge that, and bringing in other points – unrelated to the original article – to excuse or sympathize with the Afrikaner tribe as victims of discrimination.

I said in the first article in the series:

I’ve written at length about the evils of apartheid, and the immense damage it caused to South Africa over the years.  I summarized most of the issues in a 2013 article titled “Was apartheid South Africa really that bad?”  Yes, it was.  I cited my own experience, and that of others, and tried to show how things really were pretty darned evil under that policy.  I concluded by asking my American readers:

Finally, to people who try to make excuses for apartheid and the conduct of the then-South African government, I can only say:

  • If you were treated like a slave, a sub-human and a pariah in your own country;
  • If you were stripped of your citizenship and civil rights in the country of your birth because of the color of your skin;
  • If your education depended upon your skin color for its quality (or lack thereof);
  • If your choice of what to do with your life, or where to live, or who to love or marry, was restricted by your race;
  • If you were denied free travel inside your own country, forced to carry an internal passport and subject to instant arrest if you forgot it at home or lost it;
  • If you were forced to accept menial labor as the only work open to you, paid a starvation wage, and denied the right to bring your family to live with you near your place of work;
  • If you were savagely beaten and imprisoned if you dared to protest such restrictions and indignities, or even shot out of hand rather than arrested;

would you calmly accept those things?  Or would you take up arms to overthrow the system that placed such restrictions upon you?

I know what my answer would have been, in my younger years.  It would have been the same as Nelson Mandela’s in the 1960’s.

I’d like to appeal to those respondents who have not yet done so, to read that earlier article in full.  If someone had treated you that way, how would you respond?  I’d like an honest answer.  Sadly, most respondents clearly did not read it.  I fear it was often a case of, “My mind’s made up – don’t confuse me with the facts!”  When you read “Titflasher’s” accounts (linked in that article) of how anti-apartheid activists were treated (including the most brutal and hideous tortures inflicted by South African police, which I can confirm did happen – I saw them too), how is it possible for anyone to regard the Afrikaners as “heroic”?  In their enforcement of a system so inhumane as to be reminiscent of Nazi Germany, many of them were no better than the Gestapo or SS concentration camp guards.

The current backlash against the Afrikaner grew out of the lived experience of millions who were forced to endure their jackboot on their necks.  That’s the bottom line.  That’s the way it was.  Sure, not all Afrikaners were that bad, just as not all Germans supported Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party and what was done to the Jews of Europe – but that didn’t stop all Germans paying the price for it.  The Afrikaners are in the same boat today.

I’ve lived and worked with a large number of Afrikaners.  I regard some of them as my friends to this day.  Nevertheless, when I look at what many Afrikaners did to South Africa, and then see how they’re being treated today, I can only say, “They asked for it.”  They did unto others, and it’s now in turn being done unto them.  Just as their “tribe” treated others, so they are being treated today.

Unless and until apologists for the Afrikaners address that specific issue, instead of talking around and above and below and past the subject, their criticisms ignore reality.  I said at the outset of this whole kerfuffle:  “No, the Afrikaners were NOT ‘The Heroic White Tribe of Africa’ “.  I still maintain that – and I’m still waiting for respondents to prove me wrong.  Indeed, by so strenuously avoiding that issue, and instead making excuses for the Afrikaners and/or attacking other tribes and/or races, I submit that many respondents are painting themselves in colors and patterns that are very easy for the rest of us to identify.  It’s not a flattering picture.



  1. Totally off topic BUT,

    After writing that magnificent piece (we all know which one), WordPress is saying John Wilder's website has an error and is unreachable.

    Am I the only one who is getting this message?

    Does anyone know his numeric URL?

    Virginia Granny

  2. @Aesop: Agreed, but in this case I'm not trying to get through to the pig. He has plugs and muffs on, doubled. I'm trying to open a few eyes that might yet have their sight saved, if they only learn to use them.


  3. Peter:
    We see the same argument made when one group attempts to take territory in an area while another group attempts to say "We were here first." It's happening now in the USA as south Americans invade and take over the USA. Before that, it happened when the Europeans took the Americas from the Indian tribes. Before that, the tribes who were there when Columbus arrived had been fighting each other.
    I would assume the same of Africa. The cycle goes on. and on.

    When I teach biology, I teach my students this one truth about life on this planet:
    Every living thing on this planet is in conflict with every other living thing on the planet. Boiled down to its simplest terms, the things that live here are fighting for three basic resources: food to eat, a place to live, and someone to make babies with.

    There are three possible outcomes:
    Win the fight, adapt, or go extinct. Adapting means that you change in order to not have to fight an organism that you cannot defeat. Adapting means changing an aspect of your reality so that you wind up fighting an organism that you CAN defeat.

    It's a constant process. The organism you defeat today may adapt and defeat you tomorrow.

    So it is with the Afrikaner. They won, their foe adapted, and is now defeating them. They will either adapt themselves, or they will go extinct.

    There is no fair or unfair. There are only those who adapt and survive, or those who do not and go extinct.

    Such is the reality of life in this world.

  4. What you may not understand is a lot of people who read your blog have no moral qualms with conquest and rule of the strong and consider excess sympathy to outside groups as borderline suicidal.

    This is as you know the norm of history. Its only the Christian ethos and the exceptional material conditions the Afrikaners created allowed them the softness and luxury of caring about these groups.

    And guess what it got them?

    They are already an object lesson and will probably be wiped out by genocide at some future point.

    And yes I get the fear that , borrowing from the Aboriginal band Yothu Yindi here , listening to their tribal voice , will destroy modernity. Oh well, its a mouse utopia where not one modern nation other than Israel which BTW has a strong tribal consciousness can replace itself. Tribe is truth.

    Its is better to live with less than die off simply that.

    Now to answer your statement, no the Afrikaners were not a heroic tribe.

    Our current society maybe unwisely eschews conquest and does not consider it heroic as in the past and they lacked a strong tribal consciousness, Race yes to some degree but burdened with White Man's Burden and lacking (H/T Ice T here) the You ain't my tribe you ain't my friend mindset of a survival focused tribe

    So not heroic, instead burdened with out-group compassion and not a tribe either.

  5. You'll never convince them Peter. Just because you lived through it, saw it from the inside, and have actually STUDIED it means nothing to them… sigh

  6. With no disrespect intended, Mr. Grant, after reading My Traitor's Heart (a book you had featured), the only conclusion I could reach is that Africa has a tendency to make people stupid — regardless of color or creed.

    How else to analyze some of the astonishingly self-destructive decisions made by both blacks and whites there?

  7. In my years I have not previously seen the narrative about the Cape Area being uninhabited when the Afrikaners arrived challenged or corrected. It may be that some of the disagreement yo have received has simply been that no one else is actually discussing the actual history, and the false narrative simplistically justifies the side which seems culturally closest.

  8. A question from the sidelines, Peter: you lived in South Africa under the evil apartheid system. At some point after apartheid was lifted, South Africa became intolerable to you; now you live in the States.

    What made South Africa livable under apartheid, but not acceptable now, after your hard-won victory?

  9. @Qualitarian: I quote from an earlier post ( https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2008/07/its-been-melancholy-sort-of-day-for-me.html ):

    "I left South Africa and moved to the USA in 1997. I was burned out. I'd buried too many friends, seen too much violence, and desperately needed to make a fresh start in a new place. I thank God that I was eligible to immigrate to the USA. It's truly one of the greatest countries in the world, and it gave me the fresh start I was seeking. I was able to find help to talk through my memories of the bad times, and work through the pain, and begin again."

    That's why I left South Africa. I hope it answers your question.

  10. Are Afrikaners being treated any worse than Black tribes not in power in South Africa?

    And how does Afrikaner treatment differ from non Afrikaner Whites treatment in South Africa?

  11. The negative reactions you are getting to your postings about the Afrikaners suggests a hardening of attitudes, on the right, to match those on the left. This is one trend that can ultimately lead to civil war.

  12. I concur that the Boers were fracking stupid the way they treated the majority population of S. Africa, if they had been more even handed they might still be part of a mixed-race power structure in-country.
    At the same time, you yourself have written how Black Africa runs on suspicion, Black Magic, Bakeech and wierd Ju-Ju.
    The question is, is there enough native IQ in the black's gene pool to bring the continent into the 21-22 century, on their own hook? Average IQ numbers are low, whether they are good people or not in comparison to the world in general…

    1. One thing I would point out is that it is not until relatively recently, historically speaking, that Europe and North America did not run on suspicion, magic, baksheesh and weird ju-ju.

  13. kurt9. I assume you saw cities being burned and statues toppled with the elite cheering them on? Short of civil war I don't think attitudes can get much harder since is is a clear statement of everything you value must be destroyed or serve our ideology.

    Many on the Right already assume a war in inevitable and the best case scenarios are either separation possibly after along war or radical federalism that is the Union exists in name only as the Feds are depowered.

    There are far worse scenarios too.

  14.         I do not dispute a thing you say about the evils of "apartheid," which I note was never actually "apart."  When one man's boot is on another's neck, they are together, not apart.

            That said, it's been thirty years since Nelson Mandela became president.  Persecuting whites, Afrikaner and non-Afrikaner, because of what their ancestors did to your ancestors, or because the older ones didn't end the oppression as fast as you would have liked . . . well, don't call it justice.  Don't say they deserve it.

            The whole point of "Truth and Reconciliation" was to prevent this sort of thing from happening.

  15. Peter,
    If I was treated as those seven points you made, I too would revolt. The Afrikaners made their bad so let them lie in it. But the bad thing is that all Whites in South Africa are being punished from what I have read.

    Going off topic in a way, The Powers That Be are trying to turn all Whites in the U.S.A. into Afrikaners and use those seven points as a framework on how to treat Whites in the U.S.A.

  16. The solution offered was "Should have made more middle class blacks in SA".

    I asked how that was going in the US, and what was the cost? Could SA have paid it, if the US is used a model for integrating Africans and Europeans?

  17. Hello, Peter. I imagine this topic must be a little bit painful to you since it's your old native land we're essentially talking about. But I would be interested to see what you might do with a different angle on the subject, namely: What do you think were the mistakes made by the Boers/Afrikaners in race relations, which were avoided by the majority in the US? And how did the racial classification system in South Africa work really, and which elements of it do you think are being potentially replicated by Wokism here?

    For example, one reason that I have decided to take a stand definitely against financial reparations for blacks in America is that, even granting for the sake of argument that it would be a good idea, one of the things that would inevitably have to happen to make it work at all is a highly detailed racial categorization system imposed on every single American. That right there should be an automatic kill shot on the topic, in my view, but of course a lot of people on the Left who want reparations for the great-great-great-grandchildren of slaves won't feel that way – quite the contrary, perhaps, it might be an incentive in their eyes.

    But in the spirit of preparation that you've advocated in many of your posts, it might be of interest to explore, based on your own experience in S. Africa, what Americans could expect from a racialist system of that kind if it looked like our domestic Left were really to gain such power that they could try to implement it. Maybe even explore means of circumventing or subverting it, based on what you may have seen in the South African history.

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