Some racist quotes from the old South Africa

I saw this on a Facebook status. Unfortunately since I’m still on my ban, I can’t even react to the post, let alone comment that I’m copying the content here.

I think it is useful, given the trending of the subject of racism recently, to have a look at the words of some people from not that long ago, a look into their minds of that time and a reminder of what systemic racism looks like.

The original context here, as it was shared on Facebook, is to call out white people in South Africa who share photos of the old flag and carry on about “nostalgia” and the “good old days” as if those days were good for all.

But there is another context that comes to my mind… This is a reminder of what we must fight against. We must do everything we can to prevent this kind of regime from being in power again, both here and abroad. Look at these words, at the denial that anything is wrong, the kind of rhetoric that’s so easy when a system of racism has been normalized. Maybe I’m exaggerating but to me, the US looks like it’s headed this way, where some people are treated as subhuman, and it has become normalized to the point where alt right supporters can’t see it for what it is. They don’t see themselves for the monsters that they are. And not only that, but they think it is OK to police the whole rest of the world. Folks, the terrorists are running the show.

  1. “Actually, we have no race classification in the strict sense of the word. We have population grouping. We in South Africa are not at all obsessed with race.” – NF Treurnicht, National Party (NP) MP, in Parliament, 1967
  2. “The word ‘apartheid’ does not exist.” – D Christophers, NP MP, 1989
  3. “Contact across the colour line is welcome so long as the motive for the contact is the greater separation of the races.” – Minister of Health Dr Carel de Wet, 1971
  4. “Dr Verwoerd, Minister of Native Affairs, said yesterday it was necessary to take action to deal with these people who took pleasure in defying social convention in their homes and flats. Not only did white and non-white meet, but they sought to provoke the neighbours by hanging out of their windows … There were neighbourhoods [he said] where just a single liberal did that sort of thing deliberately.” – Cape Times, 1957
  5. “Jan Smuts Airport, in common with the Union’s other ports of land, sea and air, will soon amend its apartheid applications. The words ‘European’ and ‘non-European’ will be replaced by the words ‘Whites’ and ‘Non-Whites’ over appropriate doors and entrances. The reason is that foreigners, particularly Americans, confuse the issue – and the exit – by tending to use doors that seem to distinguish them from people who originate from Europe.” – Cape Times, 1959
  6. “The Group Areas Act defined three races, [Group Areas Board chairperson] Dr Van Rensburg said – ‘white, native and coloured’. All those who fell between white and native were regarded as coloured. But the Act allowed the coloured group to be subdivided into Indian, Chinese, Malays and those commonly known as coloured people. The Malays were regarded as Malays only as long as they lived in their own group area … If they moved into another area, even across the road, they became coloureds.” – Cape Times, 1961
  7. “Coloured girls can now work as usherettes in white cinemas – provided they do not look at the screen, Mr John Redman, general manager of Kinekor’s theatre division, told me this week. ‘When we show a film which our non-white girls are not allowed to see, they usher patrons with a torch and watch the floor,’ he said. ‘We discussed the matter with the department of labour and I raised this point with them. As a precautionary measure – since non-whites are not allowed to see some films restricted to whites only – we decided that they should not look at the screen.” – Sunday Express, 1971
  8. “It is an old German method of greeting which meant ‘I come in peace’. How can I help it if Hitler also used it?” – Eugene Terre’Blanche, leader of white rights group the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging, on the AWB’s fascist-style salute
  9. “I have never feared any black man in my life and I have fought them to prove it.” – Koos van der Merwe, Conservative Party MP, 1990
  10. “People are influenced by manners more than appearances. I like to believe I transfix voters with my big blue eyes.” – Sheila Camerer, NP MP, 1989
  11. “I will have to check whether he’s still in jail.” – A prisons department official, in response to a query from the Financial Mail about when Nelson Mandela would be released, 1986
  12. “I never imagined that power would remain forever with the Matanzimas. It’s just that we were the only two with university degrees.” – Former Transkei homeland chief Kaizer Matanzima, who fell in a military coup in 1987
  13. “At least I’ll be able to kiss Desdemona without leaving a smudge.” – Actor John Kani, the first black man to play Othello in Shakespeare’s play in South Africa, 1987
  14. “How can an organisation be secret if women are members of it?” – Verwoerdburg school principal Willem de Vos, rebutting accusations that the Afrikaner Onderwysers kultuurorganisasie (Afrikaner Teachers’ Cultural Organisation), was a secret organisation
  15. “[An] SABC records committee members, Mr Roelf Jacobs, denied the SABC ‘banned’ songs. ‘We just don’t play them,’ he said.” – Sunday Times, 1989
  16. “People have the silly idea that there must be freedom of the press and no repression. They don’t realise that ideas are also a source of evil.” – Former censor board member Professor Andrew Murray, 1987
  17. “The security and happiness of all minority groups in South Africa depend on the Afrikaner. Whether they are English- or German- or Portuguese- or Italian-speaking, or even Jewish-speaking, makes no difference.” – PW Botha, then prime minister, in Parliament, 1981
  18. “As far as the non-white population groups in our country are concerned, we are not merely dealing with tribal differences. What we are dealing with are differences of ethnic diversity.” – PW Botha, in Parliament, later in 1981
  19. “President Botha admonished the nation to ‘ride the waves, remembering at all times to stay on their feet and sit firmly in the saddle, to avoid being unseated’.” – Cape Times, 1988
  20. “We are not going soft on the ANC. In fact, the ball is on the other foot.” – NP spokesperson Con Botha, 1989”

Sorry, I deleted the last post

So I wrote about the Meghan Markle posts that are trending all over social media, and commented that it isn’t racism. But… I hadn’t actually read any of the tabloid shit. I have now. And maybe it is racism after all. Hence the post is deleted because I changed my mind. Sorry about that.

She is white, in my opinion. Just like my son is white, even though his one parent is not. My point was intended to be white is not a real thing but a social construct, and I couldn’t understand how someone who is one of the most privileged in the world can be a victim of racism. But yeah, if race is a social construct and she is a person of colour, or at least represents people of colour (even though she seems white to me) then maybe the tabloids treating as they have is indeed indicative of a level of racism, even in the UK, that I wasn’t aware of. That kind of sucks and made the whole point of my last post completely wrong, so it had to go.

Why the right wing is wrong

This is a complete change of subject to what I intended writing, but on my second day sitting at home and ill, I was appalled to read more nonsense about “white genocide” in South Africa shared on social media, so I felt compelled to tackle this subject again.

Let’s explain how I ended up with these views… I grew up in apartheid South Africa. Almost every white person I knew, and in childhood I only knew white people, was racist. Almost without exception, all of them… That is not to say it was always their fault. We were exposed to propaganda all the time. We grew up in areas where black people were not allowed to live, ate in restaurants where they could not, went to beaches where they could not, went to schools they weren’t allowed to attend, and learned from our racist parents. It rubs off. Racism is implicit and racists don’t even realize that they are racists. But they don’t have to stay that way.

I first became aware of apartheid when I was eleven years old. In my primary school, we had a progressive history teacher, who taught us that the history we’d learned up to that point was false. All the nonsense about the land being unoccupied and the white people moving in while the black people moved down to Cape Town from the north, etc. It was all bullshit. This was followed by another progressive teacher in my last grade of primary school.

In high school, I dropped history as a subject as soon as I was allowed. However, left wing teachers were more careful there, presumably because teenagers don’t keep quiet about what they hear in school. By the time I finished school, I had to spend a year in the army because of conscription. They made me sign a form stating I would never support the ANC. Because I was 18 and naïve, I didn’t see through them. To my shame, I was taken in by the rhetoric when they threatened us… when they explained that if I did not sign, it would be held against me and I’d never get a job. In reality and in post-apartheid South Africa, that would have counted in my favour. And maybe those idiots would have kicked me out and I wouldn’t have had to waste a year of my life in the apartheid army.

But it retrospect, I’m glad I signed that piece of paper. It exposed me to the harsh reality that most of my white countrymen were racists. It exposed me to a perverted form of white supremacist Christianity where the religion itself was used to justify racism and the Group Areas Act (the legislation that prevented blacks and whites from living in the same areas). It helped me to see through them. I still see through them. (By the way, I see that same form of perverted white supremacist Christianity is used by Evangelical Christians in the USA today.)

A few years ago, I went to an uncle’s funeral. He was my father’s brother, and while there, I spoke to another family member. Somehow the subject of racism came up, and I mentioned that I couldn’t understand how people could still be racist. He agreed with me, and then went on to say, “I treat all the boys who work for me fairly”. Boys. He referred to grown up men as boys just because they are black. And that’s the way it is – racists don’t know they are racists. It was like I had gone back in time and tried to have a reasonable conversation with my father… impossible.

So this is the way it is, the reality of the “white genocide” of farm murders. Farm murders are real. People are killed on farms just like in the cities and suburbia. People are killed by criminals – drug addicts getting money for their next fix. You are equally likely to be killed there regardless of the colour of your skin, even though you’d think criminals would only target those who have more money, which would be the farmers. (Truth be told, junkie criminals aren’t that smart. They target everybody.) The stats that those who believe in white genocide refer to don’t even mention race.

What’s really happening is this: White racists who were racists before apartheid ended, are still racists today. They have learned to hide it because it’s unpopular to call black people kaffirs to their faces. It will get you into trouble. But they genuinely believe that black people are inferior, and they remember apartheid with fondness. To them, it is unfortunate that apartheid ended, and black people are the enemy. An enemy who now has equal rights and power. An enemy who would want revenge. And when they hear about farm murders, it fits right into their narrative that they believed before apartheid ended – that black people shouldn’t be given rights because they will be incompetent in everything they do (because they are inferior), and that they will seek revenge. This belief in “white genocide” is thus a manifestation of the fear of these racists, the fear that what they thought would happen, would happen. It’s not happening. It’s not real. But try telling that to these right wing loons.

The right wing in this country is all about that sort of view, a view twisted by racism, held by people who mostly are not even self aware enough to know that they are racists. And of course some who do. That’s why I despise them. That’s why I call them racist scum and white trash. Because that’s what they are.