* Gedaliah Braun: Amazon: Racism, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Self Deceipt: A Philosophers Hard Headed Look at the Dark Continent.
Racism, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Self Deceipt: A Philosophers Hard Headed Look at the Dark Continent
by Gedaliah Braun
Defining a Liberal: a conservative is someone who dislikes blacks as a group but likes them as individuals, and a liberal is someone who likes blacks as a group (i.e. vote-fodder for the welfare state) but dislikes them as individuals.
Horror At ‘Whites Only’ Sign
In 1987 I spoke with a Canadian academic (in Papua New Guinea) who had excoriated the govern-ment for doing business with South Africa. He mentioned how ‘horrified’ he had been to see a ‘Whites Only’ sign in a South African train station. (I had seen the same signs and confess that I was not hor-rified.)He was more ‘savvy’ than your typical liberal and agreed that if blacks took power in South Africa they would sooner or later create ‘a fascist’ regime. Nevertheless there must be black rule because ‘even-tually’ they would progress in the way whites have.
But Africa cannot go through the same historical process of development as Europe, because the cul-ture Europe de¬veloped into already exists; and you cannot reinvent the wheel – especially when you know it’s already been invented! Western technology has, it is true, been copied by Orientals, but that is not happening in Africa and there’s not a scin¬tilla of evidence that it ever will.
This guy seemed to be asserting that no matter what South Africa must be ruled by blacks, end of story. But this presented a dilemma, for we both agreed that universal franchise eventually meant zero franchise. Given this, would he still insist blacks must run the country? Yes. Even if blacks them¬selves don’t want it? Well, if that were true it might make a difference; but he didn’t think it was.
‘Blacks Must Have Black Rule Even If They Don’t Want It!’
A few minutes later, however, he changed his mind. Even if they didn’t want it they must have it. In other words, for whites to deny blacks the vote is absolutely wrong, but for blacks to do the same is all right. Why does something become acceptable just because perpetrators and victims are of the same race?
Given the premise that black rule means oppression, such an absolute prin¬ciple of democracy means it is perfectly all right for blacks to oppress blacks yet profoundly wrong for whites to treat them de-cently –but with¬out suffrage. The idea that a ‘democracy’ guaranteed to become repressive must be supported at all costs, strikes me as paradoxical in the extreme.
Apartheid Is Not ‘One Single Thing’
Ben is a Zulu, about 60, and works at a garage where I bought a used car; he’s been working there for 26 years and is a South African citizen. Ladybrand is in South Africa, across the border from Mas-eru, the capital of Lesotho (pronounced ‘Lesoothoo’), a small mountainous country completely sur-rounded by South Africa and where I taught from 1987-88.
As we drove to the border I asked what he thought about the trouble in South Africa. Did he want to see blacks take over? His an¬swer was straightforward: No, he did not. ‘Our nation [i.e., blacks] is bad’. Why were they bad? I asked. Because they kill anyone who disagrees with them. Blacks could not run things; if they were in charge, nothing would work.
Does he ever go to Soweto. Often, he says; his family lives there. What do people there think about the ANC and black rule? Well, while many used to be for the ANC, this has changed because of ‘necklacings’ and suchlike. ‘If they are trying to help the black man, why are they killing so many blacks?’ he asked several times.
But then he began talking about how blacks were ‘oppressed’. I asked for exam¬ples; he said if a white man were to beat up a black employee, the police would do nothing. Suppose the boss was black and this happened under a black government? Would the police do anything then? No, he said; but at least you could fight back.
In South Africa a black man would be in big trouble if he hit his white boss.
He said that apartheid was bad, though it was changing. Before, blacks had always been separated from whites – separate toilets, en¬trances, queues, etc.. Everything should be the same for everyone, he said, since doing things separately meant whites didn’t like blacks.
Did that mean going to the same schools? Yes, he said. But since blacks were 80% of the popula-tion, whites would have to attend schools that were 80% black. Would such schools be very good? No, he quickly agreed. But how can you expect whites, who pay for the education of whites and blacks, to send their children to bad schools? He agreed you couldn’t. If everything should be the same, shouldn’t blacks be allowed to vote? Here he agreed with what he had said earlier: he was happy with whites running things and would not want to live in a country run by blacks.
By this time we were at the border post. He expressed great pleasure at our conversation and said he wished we could talk for two hours. I asked if he’d ever had such a conversation with a white man before and he said emphat¬ically he had not, though he’d worked with them for years.
The upshot was that while against apartheid, he was not in favour of blacks voting and controlling the government, nor did he necessar¬ily think everyone should all go to the same schools. He agreed that apartheid was not ‘one single thing’; some parts might be good and others bad. It is clear that many blacks who’ve been ‘persuaded’ that apartheid is bad and that they are ‘oppressed’ would also say they do not want black rule.
‘Blacks Know Difference Between Right and Wrong But Will Usually Do the Wrong Thing’
During the month I spent in South Africa in January 1986, I took every opportunity to ask blacks what they thought about black vs. white rule (etc.). Almost without exception they said they did not want black rule and for the same reasons: the white man was cleverer and more honest.
The most memorable conversation was with a young woman taking a computer course in central Jo¬hannes¬burg.
At first she expressed a noted hostility towards whites, saying she hated white peo¬ple. All whites? I asked. No, just the Boers (Afrikaners). All Boers? No, just those who hated blacks. So what appeared an extreme view turned out to be quite reasonable: hating those you think hate you.
Nevertheless, there was this antagonism towards whites and so I said to her, ‘You must be anx¬ious to see an end to white rule’. Her answer? ‘No way!’ She didn’t want black rule? Not at all. Why not? Her answer, al¬most word for word: ‘The white man knows the difference between right and wrong and will usually do the right thing. The black man also knows the difference but will usually do the wrong thing!’. And as I heard these words I knew I would not soon for¬get them.
Teaching Assistant: Yes, Blacks Are Less Honest and Not Because of Poverty
One day while driving a young black teaching assistant to her village, I asked her whether blacks in South Africa were ‘oppressed’. She said many of them seemed quite happy, but she wouldn’t be be-cause many were urbanized and had no land, which to her was unthinkable.
She admitted that Lesotho was not run very well – because it was run by blacks. I asked if there were differences in terms of honesty; yes, but only because of poverty.
We got to her place. They had a ‘modern’ concrete house, with windows and a metal roof; most houses were mud with thatched roofs. Inside, however, the living room floor was torn up. Oh, I said, the house isn’t finished. No, she said; that’s not it. It wasn’t built properly and started to fall apart. The builder said he would fix it but absconded. And so we are fixing it ourselves.
Was the man so poor? Is that why he cheated you? No, she admitted; he was not. Do you think that a white would be as likely to do this? No, she agreed. Isn’t this just the sort of thing which blacks typically do, which is why their businesses so rarely succeed? Yes, she agreed: blacks were different than whites; they were less honest, and not because of poverty. Why had she said otherwise? She looked sheepish. Was it because that was what she was expected to say, as an educated black who is supposed to ‘defend’ blacks? Something like that, she said.
We talked about whether blacks in South Africa wanted black rule. She said there were some who thought they should run their own country no matter how badly they might do it – that somehow it ‘wouldn’t be as bad’, but I can’t believe the majority would choose poverty and oppression just be-cause it came from blacks.
For ‘Disobeying’, Women Paraded Naked
I had a conversation (September 1989) with a black woman who was supposed to work for me on a Wednesday and only showed up two days later. Wednesday, she says – a (white) election day – was a ‘stayaway’: if the ‘comrades’ saw you coming from town you would be beaten. Was it true that women were made to walk naked down the street? Yes, she said; they could also cut off your ear, and say ‘Give this to your mas¬ter; you don’t listen to me!’.These people, she said, wanted freedom in town (‘white’ Johannesburg), but in the townships they beat any¬one who ‘disobeyed’. In other words, they want to be treated (by whites) as whites treat each other – under the rule of law – but quickly forget about these ‘freedoms’ where they hold sway.So why is everyone saying blacks want black rule? Well, she said, they would like to ‘share’ it. But once these thugs get a taste of power they will want it all. She laughed; ‘of course’. Then why does everyone keep saying that blacks want a black government? It was the same fear, she said, that makes them afraid to violate the stay¬away.
I asked if she’d ever had such a conversation with any white man before. She laughed again. ‘No, no.’ Nor would she have it with blacks. The media reports millions of blacks protesting (white) elec-tions because they couldn’t vote, when the reality – as the media must know – is that they are simply terrorized.
When the king of Swaziland ‘called a national convention and invited all … to speak their minds …’ (The Star, 20 August 1988, p.10: “Swazis air affairs of state – and heart”)
… the most surprising call … – surprising too for the reaction it provoked – came from a Swazi man who wanted the return of the “white administration”.
He charged that the present “educated leaders” were so greedy or cor-rupt they had brought the country to the brink of financial ruin.
“These educated Swazis [he said] were smart from the beginning … . When they saw the colonialists were fair and treated every Swazi alike, they … claimed they were educated enough to govern and, therefore, the foreign-ers should be sent home”.
The crowd applauded him. … [Emphases added.]
Gedhalia Braun holds a PhD in philosophy and is the author of Racism, Guilt, Self-Hatred and Self-Deceit.