December 14, 2013
By Selwyn Duke
With all the recent talk about Nelson Mandela the myth and the modicum of talk about Mandela the man, it’s a good opportunity to discuss another myth: that of apartheid. Oh, I know, modernist dogma dictates we behave not just as if the South African system Mandela so stridently fought was not only unsustainable, but also completely unfathomable. After all, the idea of second-class status for any group is anathema to Westerners (unless it happens to be non-Muslims in Islamic lands, of course).
I was just a teenager when world pressure to end apartheid started to reach a fever pitch. My immediate reaction was that the intended outcome — universal suffrage and black majority rule — was crazy. Don’t misunderstand me, as I believed that perpetuating apartheid was morally problematic and unrealistic. Yet I also said that the end result of the world’s little plan for SA would be the extermination of the whites. So I drew a logical conclusion: the country should be partitioned.
With the discrimination against and persecution and murder of SA whites worsening yearly — and with Genocide Watch warning that they’re imperiled by impending genocide — my youthful (and obvious) prediction seems vindicated. Yet most still don’t see the bloody writing on the wall. Worse still, some who do shamelessly shrug it off as the comeuppance due “oppressors.” So I’ll now do that most unfashionable of things: place apartheid in perspective.
Most people would never guess it, but the arrival of whites in SA dates back further than that of the ancestors of many of the nation’s blacks. The first Dutch settlers (who became known as “Boers” or “Afrikaners”) landed on Africa’s shores in 1652, while many blacks in SA arrived later. After all, since life in “racist” SA was vastly preferable to that in surrounding nations, it had long been attractive to black migrants. In fact, due to this factor and blacks’ higher birthrates, SA’s black demographic has increased 920 percent since 1913; this is the main reason the nation’s population increased from 6 million a century ago to 52 million today, as the white demographic increased only 3.3 million during that period.
The relevant point, however, is that the Dutch settlers found in southern Africa a vast and beautiful land with great wide-open spaces. They then did what Erik the Red did in Greenland, what countless groups have done throughout history: they set up shop — their own shop. Of course, there were Xhosa and Zulus about, but they did their own thing as the Europeans did theirs for the same reason why the Sioux and Cheyenne stayed separate in North America, the Lombards and Alans remained separate in barbarian Europe, or the Smith and Jones households live separately on their block: the default for different groups, with different values and cultures or even just different blood ties, is to live apart. They naturally, instinctively, reflexively maintain “apartness.”
This worked well and was unquestioned for a very long time. But then something happened.
Southern Africa started moving into modernity.
As the Afrikaners and British developed the region, a country known as “South Africa” emerged. And as the blacks were integrated into this European creation — being hired by whites, receiving at least some Western education and learning European languages — they, too, developed a sense of belonging to this “South Africa.”
This created an interesting situation. If the whites had maintained complete separation — if they would have and could have avoided all contact with the African tribes — there would have been no Nelson Mandelas (for the same reason why Amazonian natives who know of nothing beyond their forest canopy don’t lobby for voting rights). If, as occurred with the Japanese and their islands’ indigenous people, the Ainus, the SA whites came to outnumber and largely subsume the tribes, there would have been no one of note around to lobby for anything. But since SA is not an island and African migrants could easily cross the border in large numbers, this was a non-starter.
But neither of these things happened. Rather, SA blacks moved into modernity and became part of South Africa, a democracy — and outnumbered the whites 10 to 1. What were the whites to do? Granting the blacks full citizenship rights would usher in the whites’ political, and perhaps physical, destruction. Given this, is it surprising that what always ensured cultural preservation and group safety, that naturally ordained “apartness,” was replaced with the government-ordained policy of “apartheid?”
The point here isn’t to make any moral statement about segregation in general or SA’s version in particular. It is, rather, this: regardless of the extent to which white South Africans were inhuman — as all peoples can sometimes be — they did nothing unhuman. Their social policies were exactly what could be expected from any group of humans in their situation.
If any question this, try a thought exercise. Imagine there was an African tribe that had a long history in a land, had turned that land into a nation, brought it into modernity and created its democracy, and had reason to believe that sharing power would lead to its own persecution. Would it surprise anyone if they took measures to ensure their safety, cultural integrity, and hold on power?
But we don’t have to theorize. There’s no shortage of African countries where one tribe dominated government — such as with the Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda — and tribes have often spilled blood vying for power. One difference, though, is that the dominant group usually doesn’t rule democratically but autocratically; another is that they’re generally far more brutal than SA’s apartheid government. And there’s a third difference: whatever the persecutions, oh-so humanitarian Western moderns generally pay these countries little mind. So it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the real problem the West had with SA was that the ruling tribe happened to be the wrong color.
It should be added, however, that SA whites did do one thing no other group has. Is there any other instance in history in which a small minority built a country, had a long history within it, brought it into modernity and created its democracy, and then handed that democracy’s reins to a much larger group, even though reason informed that this would bring persecution? Call it magnanimity, call it stupidity, call it both, but it’s one thing for sure: strikingly unprecedented.
Whatever you call it, SA whites had a lot of help in crafting their suicide pact from a hypocritical Western world that saw a government more benevolent than most others on its continent, but nonetheless placed an undue onus on it because the rulers were the wrong race. SA was the George Zimmerman of the geopolitical stage: the white-on-black incident that got all the press while rampant black-on-black crime was ignored.
In truth, many of SA’s current troubles could have been avoided by a two-state solution, the kind of healthy “apartness” the West so easily saw the logic in upon the former Yugoslavia’s dissolution. And now, even though the West’s ending apartheid has led to impending genocide, it sees nothing. To the modern liberal, white is the new invisible.