Apartheid revisionism needed

About two weeks ago, Hermann Giliomee, the well-known liberal Afrikaner historian, wrote a scandalous piece in the Afrikaans Sunday newspaper, Rapport. The title was, “Apartheid: was it only evil?” (Afrikaans link)

I have since responded with two articles of my own to his, and we are more or less in agreement that there has been a colossal misrepresentation of what the apartheid system of racial segregation in South Africa was. However, at least one academic from the University of Stellenbosch, Anton van Niekerk, has already attacked Giliomee, describing his piece as “immoral” and “unjustifiable”.

But for decades white South Africans have spent an ever-increasing portion of their taxes on black education, health and welfare, something which the rest of the world has characterised as a “crime against humanity”.

The other day I was speaking to a friend and she told me that Afrikaans was such a nice language because one could still express how one felt, whereas “everything in English had to be so politically correct”. At least that is the way it is in South Africa. Probably in the USA and other countries, it is different. Although I have been astounded to see how intolerant American liberals can get about views on race that differ from their own.

To appreciate what a major step Giliomee took in coming out with the view that some alternatives to apartheid would have been worse, one has to live in South Africa where every day we are inundated with propaganda about our “evil past”. I grew up in the 1960’s and 1970’s, rode a bicycle in our crime-free streets, saw happily dancing black mineworkers and generally was completely unaware that anybody in South Africa was desperately unhappy. As opposed to today when acrimonious exchanges fly almost continuously between black, white, coloured and Indian, race relations in those days were cordial and uncomplicated. We each lived in our own compartments and did not feel threatened by others. That too, in juxtaposition with contemporary South Africa where whites constantly worry whether they are going to be attacked en masse, chased into the sea by angry, frustrated blacks or fall victim to the daily criminal incidents such as rape, murder, robbery and theft. Whereas South African whites go out of their way to be civil to blacks, even calling them “sir”, which would have been unheard of in the old South Africa, blacks do not seem to return the compliment. Instead they behave absolutely abominably, whether in the extreme form of violent crime or in the imperious arrogance of their politics.

However, that almost idyllic South African past before we adopted the American model of affirmative action, white guilt and forced integration, is nowadays equated with Nazism. In 1939 large numbers of white South African men volunteered to fight Germany together with Britain and the rest of the Commonwealth, yet at some point we became the Nazis. Even Germans look upon us as Nazis. Not only do the Germans feel morally superior to us, but they would rather sell their sleek Mercedes-Benzes and BMW’s to corrupt black politicians than to us. These days, being impoverished, lower middle-class victims of affirmative action, “black economic empowerment” and all the other race-preference measures, we cannot afford German cars anymore and are driving second-hand Korean cars.

After all, the Germans only gassed a few million Jews. We Afrikaners or white South Africans oppressed blacks, which is far worse. We provided them with separate toilets. The fact that they did not have toilets at all before and somehow did it behind bushes or even in full view (as many still do next to our decaying roads), is besides the point, but next to whites-only toilets, Auschwitz and Dachau pale into insignificance.

Many South African liberals have already told me that denying that “apartheid was a crime against humanity” was tantamount to holocaust denial. In fact, two billionaire Jews, the twin brothers Krok, have given us their version of a South African holocaust museum, the so-called Apartheid Museum. That part of the deal was getting a casino licence from the new black government so they could make even more money, is never mentioned. Suffice it to say that we now have a tourist attraction where people can come and participate in the re-imagining of the South African past as a quasi-Nazi nightmare, replete with our own holocaust museum.

Except six million did not die. At least not in South Africa. It was more a case of: six million were born, grew up and proliferated and out of that population explosion and “youth bulge” all the chaotic urbanisation and familiar riots ensued.

Today there are as many, if not more, black riots in South Africa, than ever before. Yet the BBC, ABC, France 2, Reuters and whoever are not filming it. It seems that for blacks to riot under a black government is considered normal whereas every stone thrown or building set alight “under apartheid” was seen as pregnant with meaning, the expression of an entire political philosophy, a deep yearning for democracy. Just today I read in a report from the SA Institute of Race Relations that the most signifcant shift in the South African voting pattern is not that a lower percentage of people want to vote for this well-nigh useless and incompetent ANC government, but that fewer blacks express the desire to vote at all.

But I digress. The fact is that for Hermann Giliomee to have set off his apartheid revisionism, took a lot of courage. In a private letter, he told me that to his great relief he had severed all ties with universities. No-one wishing to keep his post at a university or even get published in academic circles would dare write a piece with such a heretical title: “Apartheid: was it only evil?”

To most sane people, his is a rhetorical question. One only needs to drive around South Africa and see all the overweight, contented blacks walking around in brand-name clothes, driving cars and chatting away on expensive cellphones to appreciate that, contrary to popular belief, our “evil past” had not affected them in any negative way.

Whenever I hear the litany of complaints by blacks about how they have been “disadvantaged” by apartheid – that is another shibboleth of the new South Africa, the “previously disadvantaged” – I feel like asking them: But what would South Africa have looked like without apartheid? Would our GDP have rivalled America’s? Would you have sent rockets to the moon from Soweto? If, despite affirmative action, only a thousand blacks could so far manage to pass the board examination to become a chartered accountant, how on earth would this economy ever have performed better than it actually has under mostly white management and entrepreneurship?

However, the issue goes further. Again, contradicting received wisdom, apartheid, at least the kind of policy espoused by the successive Afrikaner governments after 1948, was not only about providing separate amenities to black and white, so-called “petty apartheid”. It was also a colossal attempt at kick-starting black development. In today’s money, billions were poured into black education, healthcare, training, agricultural development, social services and so on. That was so-called “grand apartheid”, something which few of the hysterical liberals screaming “boycott South Africa” at the time wanted to talk about.

If we are to be heretics, after Hermann Giliomee’s example, we might as well start talking about grand apartheid  now.

By the way, I firmly believe that what a few of us “dissident Afrikaner intellectuals” are doing at present, questioning the racial orthodoxies of South Africa, is of great significance to us, to this country and perhaps even to the wider world that is grappling with similar problems.  For a long time now, we have been labouring under a type of censorhip. Whenever we dared to question our abject guilt, the Luciferian malevolence of our forebears, we would immediately be silenced, ostracised or vilified, so as to suppress those facts or aspects of our past that do not fit in with the “Nazi model”.

What we are really dealing with, and that was the starting point of my recent piece in Afrikaans, published on www.praag.co.za on Sunday, is yet another confrontation between dogma and reason. To Van Niekerk, Leop0ld Scholtz and many of the Media24 or Naspers commentators, it is about maintaining the apartheid dogma as it was established by the foreigners and by the South African Marxists.

Anton van Niekerk feels that it is “immoral” to question the apartheid dogma by simply referring to the facts of National Party policy between 1948 and 1994. At the very least it represents an argumentum ad populum or appeal to the “accepted wisdom” created in the past by left-wing historians and British newspapers.

Therefore, to be an apartheid rationalist today, requires a great deal of courage! A year or two ago at the offices of the South African Human Rights Commission, when I questioned the assertion by an Indian academic from Wits University that “apartheid had killed millions of people”, I was seen as some sort of lunatic. The Wits professor concerned promptly burst into tears and in general I was deemed a heretic.

The point about apartheid is that just about any lie or misrepresentation of if is acceptable today, simply because so many Afrikaners no longer have the courage to speak the truth about our past. Many of the National Party cabinet members are still alive and would easily be able to rectify the falsifications and half-truths by means of a few statistics and statements to the media, but they are simply too lily-livered for that.

Mr. Flip Buys too, of the mighty Soliforum group, says in almost every one of his radio interviews: “I am fighting for a better future, not a better past.” Buys knows very well on which side his bread is buttered and that the questioning of the apartheid dogma would quickly cost him the support of Media24.

But like George Orwell said: ” He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.”

Actually, it is quite ironic that someone like Hermann Giliomee, who has a reputation as a liberal thinker and who spent some time at the University of Cape Town, should defend the current reputation of mostly conservative Afrikaners from the past. But I think part of Giliomee’s feeling that he has to do it, stems precisely from the classic nineteenth-century liberal idea that “there is more than one truth” or that every issue has at least two sides. Of course, that is also a principle of our Roman-Dutch law in South Africa, that every party to a suit has at least the right to put his case.

After my first response to Giliomee on Sunday a week ago, a reader sent me a clipping from The Citizen newspaper. It was made up of a letter that Jaap Marais wrote sometime in the nineties to the newspaper in which he pointed out a few interesting facts and figures, for the benefit of one W.J. Sachs who wrote that “the apartheid government withheld basic education from the black majority”. Naturally, it has become a generally accepted part of the apartheid dogma that blacks had received no education before the ANC took over in 1994. The fact that members of the ANC government are able to read and write at all, will no doubt soon by declared an official miracle by the Pope.

Among other things, Marais shows how only 20% of black children went to school under the United Party government prior to 1948. However, by 1967 the historian C.J. Scheepers Strydom wrote: “one of the changes with most far-reaching effect is undoubtedly the advancement of Bantu in education. Today 85% of the Republic’s Bantu of school-going age are literate – an increase of 600% since 1925. 32 000 teachers are employed in 8 500 schools with 2 million pupils”.

Jaap Marais adds: “In 1948 there were 8 000 Bantu teachers and 336 437 pupils in 3 310 schools. So it is evident that the so-called ‘apartheid regime’ did more for black education than its predecessor.”

While white taxes today are being spent largely on blacks, this was already the case during South Africa’s previous political system. Jaap Marais shows in his letter that the contribution per individual taxpayer according to race in 1970 was the following:

Whites R126

Indians R10

Coloureds R3

Blacks R0,85

In other words, blacks paid only 1/130th of the taxes paid by whites, but received far more from the state treasury!

Marais points out further that the total contributions of the different race groups in the 1980/81 fiscal year were still the following:

Whites R2 053 million

Indians R43 million

Coloureds R39 million

Blacks R100 million

In fiscal 1982/83 whites continued to pay 92,5% of all personal income tax.

After giving these figures, Marais emphasises the stupendous fact denied by today’s dogmatists, namely that in the same decade from 1973 to 1983 we again saw a tremendous rise in expenditure on black education: from R27 million per annum to R475 million per annum. From 1981 to 1985 the increase was equally rapid and shot up from R225 million per annum to R950 million per annum.

Referring to fiscal 1983/84, Marais says: “The government took from the 1,5 million taxpayers a total of R1 733 million for non-white education, averaging R1 107 per white taxpayer. This is how the former government practised affirmative action.”

In 1971 blacks had received 16 percent of the total education budget, but by 1991 it was already 58%, which indicates to what extent the apartheid dogma that “whites withheld education from blacks” rests on a myth.

But Anton van Niekerk and other dogmatists will respond to this by saying that they are not interested in the numbers and hard reality, but in the “moral” aspects of apartheid and segregation to which they refer as “an assault on human dignity” and “dehumanising”.

Van Niekerk writes in Rapport:

“We can therefore not judge apartheid in terms of a sinical, semi-Machiavellian estimation, merely what would have happened to the economy if there were no apartheid. Apartheid is gnawing at our conscience as whites because we have wounded the basic humanity of our fellow South Africans in its essence.”

The question is: why is apartheid “gnawing at our conscience as whites” when all the leaders and inhabitants of the formerly independent black homelands, as well as the Indians and Coloureds who also enjoyed certain privileges above blacks, may walk around with “clean consciences”?

And one wonders why Anton van Niekerk’s version of white guilt only applies to white South Africans or whether he also subscribes to Susan Sontag’s slogan: “The white race is the cancer of history.” Are all whites guilty? At any rate, most Western countries practised some or other form of colonialism or segregation. Until the seventies some of the southern states of the USA, as well as Britain, still applied forms of apartheid or segregation. Why should we be singled out as the scapegoats of the Western world?

Evidently, Afrikaners and SA whites do not need to take moral lessons from Americans, Britons or former National Party supporters like Anton van Niekerk. Today we have the opposite problem: in South Africa and to a lesser extent in the USA and other countries, there exists a system of reverse discrimination and permanent affirmative action by which we are reduced to permanently second-class citizens. Blacks also commit violence against us on a scale which may, at the very least, be called a violation of our human rights and at worst may be seen as a form of genocide.

In the recent past, the silence on black-on-white violence by the media in the USA has been coming under the magnifying glass. It is a disconcerting tendency that black violence, also in our country, is not being examined with the same “moral” spectacles as those used to stare at the South African past. During the conflict between the ANC and the National Party, newspapers regularly published statistics about deaths in police detention, but these days it is not being done anymore. In his book Trou tot die dood toe, gen. Johan van der Merwe mentions that nowadays approximately 700 deaths in police detention occur per annum, which is far higher than at any time during so-called “apartheid”. When are Prof. Anton van Niekerk and other politically correct academics going to start looking at that?

Those who prefer to make use of “moral criteria” should apply the same criteria to the methods used by the ANC to come to power. That is another issue raised by Van der Merwe: The ANC simply ignored the Geneva Convention and committed terror against civilians, both black and white. How are we supposed to feel guilty about the apartheid past when we are being governed by a group of monsters that exploded the Church Street Bomb on 20 May 1983 and committed over 400 necklace murders. (The method of execution by which a tyre is place around someone’s neck, filled with petrol and set alight, the person literally burnt alive.)

It will also be an interesting exercise to compare the human rights record of “Apartheid South Africa” with those of the group of countries that declared apartheid a “crime against humanity” at the United Nations.

Two years ago I visited Sweden. At times I had to stop myself from feeling morally superior to the Swedes, those supporters of the ANC and the anti-apartheid movement. Because our people have done so much more for blacks than Swedes or Norwegians – with all their development programmes in Africa. We only have to look at the extraordinary affluence of South African blacks, against the abject poverty pertaining elsewhere in Africa.

Where apartheid was wrong in my view, was in the burden and responsibility we took upon ourselves to look after other nations and racial groups, administer them, train them and in general assume responsibility for their well-being. In this way, the economic and political failure of the black homelands also became our failure. To this day, the dogmatists are trying to place the blame for deficient black performance on us.

While paternalism in many Western countries is still fashionable and aid money is being handed out in Africa by the billions, we Afrikaners must never again assume Kipling’s “white man’s burden”. The paradox of apartheid is: We are today damned, not so much because we oppressed blacks, but because we demonstrated compassion for blacks, as well as their education, health and welfare.

At present many people want to continue with this, in the name of so-called “reconciliation between the races”. It would be a grave mistake and would only lead to further misery and recriminations. Currently the black man prefers to stand on his own two feet and certainly does not need our help, assistance or even taxes anymore.