Apartheid, in Perspective, 1
Essay in two parts, by Ilana Mercer
In a recent translation of Tacitus’ Annals, the question was raised as to whether “there were any ‘nations’ in antiquity other than the Jews.” Upon reflection, one suspects that the same question can be posed about the Afrikaners in the modern era.
In fact, in April of 2009, former South African President Jacob Zuma infuriated the “multicultural noise machine” by stating: “Of all the white groups that are in South Africa, it is only the Afrikaners that are truly South Africans in the true sense of the word. Up to this day, they [the Afrikaners] don’t carry two passports, they carry one. They are here to stay.”
Indeed, the Afrikaners fought Africa’s first anticolonial struggles, are native to the land and are not colonists in any normal sense. Yet the liberal world order has only ever singled out Afrikaners for having established apartheid, considered by the Anglo-American-European axis of interventionism to be “one of the world’s most retrogressive colonial systems.”
However, while the honing of apartheid by the Afrikaner National Party started in 1948 after Daniel Malan assumed the prime minister’s post, elements of the program were part of the policy first established in 1923 by the British-controlled government.
There was certainly nothing Mosaic about the maze of racial laws that formed the edifice of apartheid. The Population Registration Act required that all South Africans be classified by bureaucrats in accordance with race. The Group Areas Act “guaranteed absolute residential segregation.” Pass laws regulated the comings-and-goings of blacks (though not them alone), and ensured that black workers left white residential areas by nightfall.
Easily the most egregious aspect of flushing blacks out of white areas was the manner in which entire communities were uprooted and dumped in bleak, remote, officially designated settlement sites— “vast rural slums with urban population densities, but no urban amenities beyond the buses that represented their slender lifelines to the cities.”
Still, apartheid South Africa sustained far more critical scrutiny for its non-violent (if unjust) resettlement policies than did the U.S. for its equally unjust but actively violent mass resettlement agenda, say, in South Vietnam. (See Sophie Quinn-Judge, “Lawless Zones,” The Times Literary Supplement, February 26, 2010.)
Or, before that. In his magisterial “History of the American People,” historian Paul Johnson, a leading protagonist for America, details the energetic destruction and displacement by Andrew Jackson of the “the oldest American nations,” the Indians.
Nor should we forget subsequent American military misdeeds. There was, for instance, the 1890 “Wounded Knee” bloodbath in South Dakota, in which a U.S. cavalry regiment wiped out, within an hour, between 150 and 300 Native Americans, women and children included. A decade later, in the war in the Philippines, a million Filipinos perished at American hands. The 1990 book “In Our Image,” written by historian Stanley Kurnow, reports that at least 200,000 of the dead Filipinos in that war were civilians. Many of the civilians breathed their last in disease-ridden concentration camps which were known as reconcentrados.
It was the British, not the settler ancestors of the contemporary Afrikaners, who vanquished the locals with the express purpose of producing British-type “free” societies. The horrors of British concentration camps during the Boer War are well documented. And there is little to be said in extenuation of Britain’s Zulu Wars, which were summarized in an extract from the once-famous 1930 historiographical parody “1066 And All That”: “War Against Zulus. Cause: the Zulus. Zulus exterminated. Peace with Zulus.”
Why do so many conservatives still defend Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt? Between 1942 and 1945, the FDR administration dispensed with habeas corpus in order to relocate en masse, and confine in camps, some 112,000 Japanese aliens and American-born citizens of Japanese ancestry. These Japanese internees were penned in camps, their bank accounts frozen often for years, without being charged with any crime.
Nothing in Afrikaner rule, even at its least enlightened, can match such episodes in American history.
The offending National Party began to dismantle apartheid almost a decade before the transition to democracy. By 1986, the party had already brought down apartheid’s pillars. “Beginning in the early 1980s, the South African government expanded democracy by drawing colored people and Indians into Parliament.” By the end of the 1980s, the pernicious influx control laws had been scrapped, public facilities desegregated, and racial sex laws repealed. “Blacks were allowed full freehold rights to property” and admission to historically white universities.
Citations are from “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America From Post-Apartheid South-Africa” (2011) by Ilana Mercer, who has been writing a weekly, paleolibertarian column since 1999. She’s on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube