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Americans should recognize South African genocide

Oppression is oppression, regardless of the identity of the victim or perpetrator.

http://www.kstatecollegian.com/opinion/americans-should-recognize-south-african-genocide-1.2558187

by Ian Huyett

“Listen, you white bastard. I have AIDS. We are now going to rape your wife and give her AIDS too. Then we kill you.” This is what a black gunman told Manie Potgieter as the clothing was pulled off his wife, Helena, according to a May 5, 2010, Times UK article.

Manie and Helena are Afrikaners — South Africans of European descent. They were targeted for horrific dehumanization and murder because, in the eyes of their attackers, their skin was the wrong color. Although the assailants were chased off before the Potgieters could be executed, others haven’t been so lucky.

Since the takeover of the ANC government in 1994, racist black gunmen have grotesquely murdered more than 3,000 Afrikaners, according to a March 28, 2010, Times UK article. Often, Afrikaners are forced to watch as their family members are brutalized and tortured before being killed.

Gregory Stanton, head of Genocide Watch and a former law professor, said “There is a motive of hatred, that these are hate crimes. People are tortured and murdered in ways that are dehumanizing.”

In a 2003 report on the attacks, Genocide Watch found that convicted gunmen “hated their Afrikaner victims and saw them as ‘dogs’ rather than people; and that they killed and tortured and raped for this reason.”

Louis Swanepoel, senior in mechanical engineering, is a K-State student from South Africa. He came here in June 2005 with his parents, who left South Africa to find work and avoid the rising tide of violence. He agrees that Afrikaners are the victims of an ongoing genocide.

“My friend and his mother were assaulted with golf clubs and his father was killed with a shotgun,” Swanepoel said. “After we moved, the people who bought our house were murdered.”

Swanepoel said the violence cannot be explained as a backlash against apartheid.

“Afrikaners always get along with older Africans. The people conducting the attacks have grown up after apartheid. A lot of them aren’t even from South Africa — they’re from Zimbabwe and Mozambique.” Swanepoel said of the genocide, “The ANC might see it but doesn’t care about it,” explaining that government policies systematically deny jobs to Afrikaners on the basis of their ethnicity.

According to an April 9, 2002, BBC article, a woman born in South Africa has a greater chance of being raped than learning how to read. In a June 20, 2009, Time survey of South African men, one in four admitted to being a rapist, making the country the rape capital of the world. In a survey of schoolchildren in the Soweto township, one in four boys said that “jackrolling,” a South African term for recreational gang rape, was “fun,” according to a June 19, 1999, BBC article.

“Tourists will go to Soweto to see what it’s like,” Swanepoel said. “If your skin is white, the further you drive, the lower your chances of getting out alive.”

A November 14, 2010, article in the Guardian reported that British newlyweds honeymooning in South Africa were carjacked in a similar township. The gunmen threw the man from the taxi and sped off with his 28-year-old wife. Her body was found in the backseat of the abandoned car.

Ethan Bezzek, senior in history, met his girlfriend while studying abroad in South Africa.

“The ANC uses race and apartheid to remain in power,” Bezzek said.

The K-State student believes apartheid is no excuse for the violence, explaining that gunmen are killing “people who were six when apartheid ended.”

“It’s a genocide because they’re targeting a specific ethnic group,” Bezzek said.

Bezzek’s girlfriend, Shavonne Janse Van Rensburg, still lives in South Africa.

“When developed areas are struck, nine times out of 10 the victims are white,” Rensburg said.

Rensburg explains that ANC policies prevent victims from protecting themselves.

“The criminals in our country have more rights than the victims,” Rensburg said. “If someone is breaking into my home, I have to wait until he’s three meters from me before he’s threatening my life. Then I have to fire a warning shot before I am allowed to shoot him. I am not allowed to shoot him in the back, so if my husband walked in on a guy raping me, my husband could not shoot him.”

Walk onto any college campus in America and you can find students who admirably work against genocide in the Congo, Uganda or Rwanda. As citizens of one of the most generous nations on earth, we’ll stand up for people halfway around the world we’ve never met. So why is no one standing up for the Afrikaners?

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3 replies »

  1. “Listen, you white bastard. I have AIDS. We are now going to rape your wife and give her AIDS too. Then we kill you.”

    That’s extremely messed up.

    I don’t know everything there is to know about South Africa, but I will say that it’s race relations seem like America’s but magnified. While there have been Blacks who have gained from the country’s fall of apartheid (rise in university admissions, white collar job occupations, etc.) the poverty of the working class and underclass hasn’t changed or has gotten worse. Absentee ownership of homes is rampant in places like Durban, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.

    The difference is that the violence in South Africa is even more out of control. There’s Black-on-White crime there that makes any Black-on-white crime here seem like a blip. I agree with the author that this does need to be recognized as a genocide. Any opposition to that would show immense hypocrisy in my opinion.

    I do take issue with some writers who try to label these problems “Black-only” as if innocents weren’t raped and killed during the Bosnian genocide, Armenian genocide, etc. But I also take issue with leftists who don’t take an unbiased look at racial relations. It’s like they’ll acknowledge racism, but then deny it’s effects. They think the effects are only a one-sided oppression.

    On a positive note, I will say that Zabalaza has done incredible work and makes the American Anarchist movement like a joke. They actually have a biracial makeup and have waged many successful direct action campaigns.

  2. And when I say American Anarchist movement, I’m strictly referring to the Left Anarchist stream.

  3. “I don’t know everything there is to know about South Africa, but I will say that it’s race relations seem like America’s but magnified. While there have been Blacks who have gained from the country’s fall of apartheid (rise in university admissions, white collar job occupations, etc.) the poverty of the working class and underclass hasn’t changed or has gotten worse.”

    That summarizes the situation perfectly. The same thing happened to South Africa in the post-apartheid period that happened to America in the post-civil rights era. In both instances, what we’ve seen is a situation where class stratification and polarization among blacks became ever more pronounced.

    In the US, we’ve seen the growth of the black middle class, a growing black professional class, an increased number of wealthy blacks, a reasonably thorough integration of workplaces, increased educational opportunities for blacks, the first black president, etc. On the other hand, the condition of the poor and working class blacks has deteriorated below what it was pre-civil rights. For instance, Walter Williams argued recently that black unemployment rates are actually higher now than they were in the era when blacks faced much more open and strident employment discrimination. Also, social problems among blacks in the lower socioeconomic levels have skyrocketed including violent crime, drug addiction, rates of imprisonment, broken families, etc. The average black person in America now is much more likely to be either murdered or sent to prison than in the early 1960s.

    The exact same thing has happened in South Africa: The condition of black elites and the black middle class has significantly improved, while things have gone further downhill for poor blacks, only the situation in SA is like the USA on steroids.

    I don’t know how much comparative research has been done on the two countries regarding this situation, but it would seem to me that such an analysis and comparison would go along way to determine exactly why things turned out the way they did given that the situations have been almost identical in two countries with very similar histories, e.g. white colonialists/settlers building up a modern capitalist society in large part on the basis of exploited black and Indian labor and a subsequent social revolution that swept away a racial caste system but produced a system of polarization among the different socioeconomic layers of the black population.

    I think the key to understanding what went wrong in both countries probably has something to do with the specific sets of policies that were enacted following the dismantling of the traditional racial caste system. Both countries followed a model that was largely based on the statist/socialist/coercive integrationist paradigm and SA more so than the USA. A lot of dissident black writers from the Right like Williams, Sowell, Elizabeth Wright, and others (and some Afro-centrists, of course) have pointed out that the black middle class was actually larger in the pre-civil rights era than is typically recognized and that the level of self-sufficiency and self-organization among black communities was more advanced than is also recognized. Something must have happened in both countries that severely undermined the organic cultural, community, economic, and family life of black communities, primarily the poor and working class. My best guess is that as more successful, prosperous, or educated members of the black populations became more closely aligned with the state and with white elites, the less well-off, less-politically connected got left behind and community support networks and social ties that these sectors previously received assistance or advocacy from were left out to dry. The exodus of middle class blacks from traditional black communities, for instance.

    “The difference is that the violence in South Africa is even more out of control. There’s Black-on-White crime there that makes any Black-on-white crime here seem like a blip. I agree with the author that this does need to be recognized as a genocide. Any opposition to that would show immense hypocrisy in my opinion.”

    It’s a similar situation to the US on this issue as well. In both countries, black on white crime is an issue, but black on black crime is a statistically even greater problem.

    “I do take issue with some writers who try to label these problems “Black-only” as if innocents weren’t raped and killed during the Bosnian genocide, Armenian genocide, etc. ”

    Well, people will be people wherever you go. These are problems that transcend ethnic and cultural boundaries.

    “On a positive note, I will say that Zabalaza has done incredible work and makes the American Anarchist movement like a joke.”

    I was actually involved in the anti-apartheid movement in the 80s. In fact, that and the antiwar movement for Central America were the first bits of political activism I was engaged in. Even though I was anti-apartheid, I always opposed Communist-influenced opposition groups like the ANC and SWAPO. I figured those groups would lead a Vietnam-like communist revolution that would create a bloodbath and blacks would get the blame for it: “See, we ended apartheid and this is what we got.” That’s more or less what has since happened, although in power the ANC have been more like ordinary Socialists rather than full-on Marxist-Leninists, even though they’ve pursued statist policies with a lot of predictable results. There was a huge economic decline in SA in the 90s after the ANC came to power.

    In those days I used to argue for the idea of a decentralized South African confederation that two natives from SA outlined in a book that actually won a Nobel prize for political literature. I also used to think that COSATU would have been a preferable third position to both apartheid and its alliance with white capitalist elites on one hand or a black-led socialist regime on the other. COSATU is a trade union federation with strong syndicalist influences that has historically been aligned with the ANC, but it has been a stormy relationship and COSATU has attacked ANC actions and policies on many occasions, both pre- and post-apartheid. It seemed to me then as now that SA as a libertarian confederacy with a COSATU dominated industrial economy would be preferable to either socialism or the old quasi-fascist system.

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