I was saddened, and more than a little angry, to read at American Renaissance an over-the-top panegyric to the Afrikaner “white tribe” of South Africa. It’s titled “The Heroic White Tribe of Africa“. It begins:
The Afrikaners are a truly heroic people, with a history of courage, perseverance, and faithfulness unmatched in modern times. In little more than 300 years, they brought forth a distinctive culture, a national church, a rich literature, and a vivid sense of identity. Known as Africa’s White Tribe, the Afrikaners’ worst threats have always been other whites: first the Dutch, then the British, then the combined forces of all white people everywhere – to the point that they are now at the mercy of blacks. This is their tragic story.
The Afrikaners were, indeed, an heroic people in history according to certain measures; but they were also moral monsters who “got theirs” at the expense of almost everyone around them, and in the process adopted racial policies that would have made Adolf Hitler proud. (Indeed, some of the prime movers behind the policies of apartheid were imprisoned during World War II because of their outspoken support for Nazi Germany and its racial-purity Nuremberg Laws.)
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.
There’s more at the link.
If you haven’t read that earlier article, I’d be grateful if you’d please read it in full, and those linked within it, particularly those by “Titflasher” (they’re worth reading). It provides a great deal of material you won’t hear from apologists for apartheid. The evils that I listed above were among those inflicted on the vast majority of South Africans by Afrikaners, and that list is not exhaustive.
Some argue that the Afrikaners did no more than the British Empire did before them, and that apartheid was no more than a legal codification of imperial practices. That’s not true. A little historical research will soon demonstrate that, while imperial policies were indeed racist to a considerable extent, none of them extended to officially classifying entire tribes and races as sub-human. Don’t forget, it was Hendrik Verwoerd, a Prime Minister of South Africa and one of the primary architects of apartheid, who stood up in Parliament and declared, officially and for the record (you’ll find it in Hansard), that Blacks were the Biblical “children of Ham“; that they were therefore destined by God to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water“, like the Gibeonites; and that therefore he, Verwoerd, was going to ensure that “Bantu education” (the deliberately inferior and underfunded education system provided to Black people) would educate them for that purpose, and nothing better. Charming SOB, wasn’t he?
I’m no bleeding-heart liberal, no espouser of fashionably left-wing causes. My record speaks for itself. I’ve written about the heroes I knew in South Africa, and made no apologies for opposing terrorism just as much as I opposed apartheid – because they were just as bad as each other. “Two wrongs don’t make one right”, to use a tired old phrase.
Nevertheless, I’m not going to stand idly by and watch the “whitewashing” (you should pardon the expression) of the Afrikaner “tribe” as poor, misunderstood heroes who don’t deserve what’s happened to them. They sowed the wind by deliberately depriving more than 80% of the country, Black, Indian or “colored’ (mixed-race), of almost every opportunity to live as they did. Now they’re suffering under the inevitable reaction to what they did. If Afrikaners had been willing to create a genuine black middle class, and open the economy to allow everyone to aspire to their fair share of it, earning their way to prosperity by the sweat of their brows, South Africa would be a very different country today. It’s because they would not allow that, and instead tried to glom on to all the goodies for themselves at the expense of everyone else, that the nation is in the state it is today. Action begets reaction. What was sauce for the goose is now sauce for the gander. Need I go on?
Yes, there were heroes among the Afrikaners. Sadly, their heroism did not extend to allowing others the things they demanded for their own people. Instead, they took them for themselves, and took up arms and passed laws to stop others sharing them. The result is what’s happening in South Africa today.
(EDITED TO ADD: In response to many reader comments and a few on other blogs, I’ve written a follow-up article to this one, providing more information. You’ll find it here.)