Apartheid State stigma


by rev. Christo Heiberg

[nota: die artikel word hier geplaas met die skrywer se toestemming. Bron: Christian Renewal]

The other day a good friend referred in passing to modern Israel as an “apartheid state.” That piqued my curiosity. I have heard this before. Former president Jimmy Carter wrote a book called Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. So, what is an apartheid state? I decided to do some googling. Interestingly there was much more to read than a busy reformed pastor can afford to spend his time on. One thing is sure: Labeling Israel as an apartheid state amounts to political blasphemy of the worst kind… for Israel’s friends at least. In fact, there is hardly a worse stigma in the world today, than the stigma of apartheid.

I should know since I have carried that stigma for many years, having lived in South Africa for close to 40 years. In fact I know very few Afrikaners who have not carried the heavy burden of that stigma. The world for some reason has decided this is the lowest level any society could ever descend to, notwithstanding the fact that we basically inherited the system of racial segregation from our colonial past.

This stigma that was South Africa was obvious in so many ways.  South Africa was about the only country against which the old cold war enemies could unite against, backed by the rest of the world. Not even present day North Korea, Iran or Syria can boast that achievement 25 years after the cold war.  White South Africa was the only country against which textbook terrorism was considered perfectly legitimate by the civilized West – and still is – as long as the enemy was the “apartheid state.” South Africa was the only country to be banned from the Olympic Games for three decades. It was the only country whose citizens were denied visas to most other countries for a generation. It was also the only Western country that had to fight a drawn-out war against Soviet backed guerillas amidst an oil and arms embargo imposed by its “allies.”  We could go on.

Just how odious this little Afrikaner nation had become and how unforgivable her political transgressions were, is further illustrated by the following: The second half of the 20th century has seen many cases of national apologies being made about war crimes and genocides to the descendants of its victims, in an effort to heal the deep festering wounds of the past. One sad exception is the refusal of the Turks to confess the brutal genocide of a million Armenians just over a century ago. Around the same time though, the mighty British Empire committed unspeakable atrocities on the prairies of South Africa against the world’s smallest white nation, because this tiny nation happened to discover a big pot of gold! Yet no British apology has been issued over the forced starvation of 28,000 innocent women and children in British concentration camps between 1900 and 1902, even though all of Britain blushed in shock and shame when it was revealed. The only reason – I presume – for the absence of an apology is the fact that the poor victims happened to be… Afrikaners! The British Commonwealth’s nonchalant attitude toward this forgotten war crime is well illustrated in that a Canadian city could name itself after the main perpetrator, Lord Horatio Kitchener!

The extent of the global demonizing of white South Africa is further illustrated by the following statistics.  A study conducted in 1977 revealed that the five primary news outlets in the United Sates – the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, NBC, and ABC – while running among them only a single story on North Korea, seven on Cuba, and 16 on Cambodia and its Khmer Rouge – ran 513 stories condemning South Africa during 1976.

What is an “apartheid state”?  Let’s ask a fierce critic who knew the old South Africa from the inside, Richard Goldstone, a former justice of the South African constitutional court and currently on the payroll of the United Nations. Under the heading “Israel and the Apartheid Slander,” Goldstone wrote the following in the New York Times last November: “While apartheid can have a broader meaning, its use is meant to evoke the situation in pre-1994 South Africa. It is an unfair and inaccurate slander against Israel, calculated to retard rather than to advance the peace negotiations” (emphasis mine).

Goldstone continues: “I know all too well the cruelty of South Africa’s abhorrent apartheid system, under which human beings characterized as black had no rights to vote, hold political office, use “white” toilets or beaches, marry whites, live in whites-only areas or even be there without a ‘pass.’ Blacks critically injured were left to bleed to death if there was no ‘black’ ambulance to rush them to a ‘black’ hospital. ‘White’ hospitals were prohibited from saving their lives.”

So that is the horror that is apartheid. It’s not my intent to defend apartheid and its sad legacy of statutory racial discrimination, but to expose Goldstone and the world’s grotesque hypocrisy.  For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus on his last statement, that “blacks critically injured (were) left to bleed to death” since there was supposedly “no black ambulance to rush them to a black hospital.” I wonder how many such cases Judge Goldstone could cite? I am almost certain such cases were rare. A close relative of mine, having entered the South African medical world in 1979 – working in emergency units of public hospitals across the country – cannot recall a single incident where life or limb was lost on the basis of the patient’s skin.

What I do know is that there were more hospitals and ambulances operating in South Africa serving our African population than in the whole of Africa at the time. The biggest hospital in the world was in Soweto with 3,200 beds, 8,000 staff at its peak, 23 operation theatres and a host of medical doctors, funded by white taxpayers’ money. This is just one of the countless apartheid stories that Goldstone prefers to omit and which many ordinary Africans my age are longing back for today, not to mention clean water, safe beaches, unplugged toilets, employment opportunities, safer neighborhoods, etc.  I also remember occasionally going with my dad to the university where he taught for 20 years, built in one of the “homelands” for our African people. It never occurred to me as I beheld the impressive campus nestled away in such beautiful surroundings, or as I walked through the state-of-the-art auditorium and cafeteria, that it was all part of a “cruel and abhorrent system” aimed at oppression. But then what else would you expect from a “brainwashed” Afrikaner kid?

The “cruel and abhorrent apartheid system” is further exonerated by the following staggering truth. At the start of his BBC documentary series “The War of the World,” Harvard historian Niall Ferguson makes the telling statement that the 20th century was one long war of savagery motivated by racism, among other things. What the Japanese did to the Koreans and the Chinese, what the Turks did to the Armenians and the Greeks, what the Russians did to the Slavs and Polish and other minorities, and later to the poor fleeing Germans, what the Nazi’s did to the Jews and the Polish and many others, what the British did to Dresden and Hamburg and the Americans to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what Mao did to his own people, and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, what Saddam Hussein did to the Kurds, what the Hutu’s did to the Tutsi’s and the Balkan peoples to each other, was in every instance motivated by some form of racism! The attacker viewing his enemy as an inferior race, or as Ferguson alleges, “vermin”! Whether Ferguson’s thesis is correct is the reader’s to decide, but one obvious fact strikes you if you are an Afrikaner: We did not make his list! We truly feature nowhere in six hours of 20th century sordid savagery! And that while the “racist abhorrent apartheid system” had all the means at its disposal – a mighty army – and while its people had every reason to feel “justified” in doing it, considering what happened to colonial Europeans throughout the rest of Africa.

The “cruel and abhorrent apartheid system” is also exonerated by Nigel Cawthorne’s book on History’s Most Evil Despots and Dictators. There are all sorts of ghosts from Akhenaten to Gaddafi in there, from nearly every nation under the sun, and up to 40 tyrants from the 20th century alone. But again, among nine 20th century African tyrants not one Afrikaner name is included.  And that while they ruled South Africa for almost 90 years! Truly astonishing!

Is it not also revealing that Nelson Mandela, convicted for acts of terrorism, could emerge after 27 years of imprisonment by this “cruel and abhorrent apartheid system” well enough to lead his country with dignity for five years? Survival beyond a few years in the notorious Chikurubi maximum security prison in Zimbabwe, of a political opponent of Robert Mugabe, is considered a miracle.

All this is said, not as a defense of apartheid, but as an indictment of the world’s hypocrisy that shows no sign of abating. One white farmer per week is being murdered in South Africa today (often by severe brutality), making it the most dangerous job on the planet since the end of apartheid. Western governments and its news media for the most part turn a blind eye. A Flemish lobby group in Brussels is doing its utmost to force this slowly growing genocide of white South Africans onto the European Parliament’s radar by asking: “Hoeveel moeten er sterven voordat u de stilte breekt?” (How many must die before you will break the silence?)

The stigma of my country clung to me for the best part of my life. It does so no more. When one of my sons recently returned from a visit to the old country sporting a T-shirt with a Boer-War warrior on his chest, I felt proud. Twenty years ago I would have blushed. What saddens me most today is not the injustice of apartheid, nor even a looming genocide, but how a God-fearing people of three centuries could forsake the fountain of living waters, only to dig for themselves cisterns that can hold no water.

That is the true tragedy of the Afrikaner and the deepest loss of my country.


(Hier is nog artikels oor Apartheid.)

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