Sunday, July 22, 2007

Whiteness and Denial

South Africa's National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) have charged the apartheid era Minister of Law and Order, Adriaan Vlok, and his Police Commissioner, Johann van der Merwe, with the attempted murder of Reverend Frank Chikane.

The attempted assassination (by poison) took place in the closing years of the apartheid regime in the late 80s.

Now Vlok, along with a host of other apartheid security chiefs (Van der Merwe reportedly is not included), are pointing accusatory fingers at apartheid's last President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, FW de Klerk.

Revealing submissions made to the NPA in recent days apparently highlight the feeling that Vlok and company are tired of shouldering the blame for a host of "dirty tricks" aimed at securing apartheid rule.

The accused claim that FW de Klerk, and his cabinet, knew about the attempt to murder Chikane.

This is not a new claim. During the proceedings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Vlok and others refused to apply for a blanket amnesty from prosecution. Vlok argued that he was merely carrying our state-orders.

De Klerk's response was that he did not know about many of the horrendous crimes that were revealed. In essence, De Klerk was arguing against the view that the apartheid buck stopped at his door.

Instead, he found refuge in the negotiated dishonesty that he did not know and, therefore, could not have ordered many of the crimes against humanity that took place under his leadership.

But life is an unavoidable balance. And the herrenvolk are turning on one another in a manner that Kierkegaard would have foretold.

Vlok washed Chikane's feet last year. The act is supposed to be one of contrition.

To be more theologically exact, it was a Christian plea for forgiveness.

Chikane, who is currently the Director-General in the office of President Thabo Mbeki, may have even been moved to forgive Vlok. But that won't be enough for the NPA who must uphold the rule of law.

This is going to be an interesting case because it re-opens the debate about apartheid, confrontation, the rule of law, reconciliation, and of course, forgiveness.

The contentous thread that ties all of these together is the politics of race in post-apartheid South Africa.

Already some white South Africans have been venting their agitated opinions in varying forums. I just read an article by Marianne Thamm, a white columnist, entitled "Owning History".

In the article Thamm correctly points out that whites have to deal with the past and confront those who, in ther names, carried out vile attacks on Black South African.

To be fair, several whites did take time out to comment that there is a need to do this and, thereby, "Own History". But, as you will see below, the usual denial-default, a universal feature of whiteness, is the dominant reaction.

Here are a few selected snippets from the comments section of Thamms article:

I beg for no forgiveness (19/07/2007 09:44)
I refuse to become a second class citizen for something that finished when I left primary school,I wont sit around feeling guilty for someone elses sins, I have better things to do.Vlok and co never did the TRC and therefore should go to prison, they had their chance and they refused it, bring back the death penalty for them and all the "New" crimes that now take place in the "New" South Africa.Reconciliation is a thing of the past revenge is the new order of the day. - me

The past (19/07/2007 09:52)
So, how far back do you want to go? 50, 100, 150 years ago? 350? Let us contrast black vs white 350 years ago, to now: Think about scietific knowledge, building technology, seafaring ability, living standards, writing, Take a minute, and compare 350 years ago, to now. Not for a minute do I suggest that nothing bad has come out of colonisation, but I do insist that the good also be acknowledged. - KoosS

Owning history (19/07/2007 09:55)
Let them be prosecuted, even though its taken so long. But the government should not forget to prosecute all the other rapists, murderers & criminals currently in SA today. Blacks and whites fought for their own beliefs during apartheid, who is to say which side is right!! Black people now feel the world owes everything to them. Througout history black people have always been poor slaves, the white people have always been so called masters. Things have changed all over the world, not just in SA. - dev

While Rome burns (19/07/2007 11:48)
It just amazes me how emotions can get carried away so easily from logic. It is easier to deflect the attention of the public away from critical issues in South Africa. More people have been murdered in SA over 10 years than over the entire Apartheid era!! And where is the balance? I seriously doubt anyone in this country actually understands what went on at Quattro Camp etc. Marianne, please read some books on the Breshnev doctrine and what plans they had in store for Africa!! You will puke - JP

History repeat itself (19/07/2007 12:18)
'History is written by the victorious'. Not like we had a revolution of sort, but the ANC government is writing a history for the whites, once again as the 'bad guys', shame and guilt. Black people noble and nice. History will repeat itself. Racism will be discovered by the black due course. Minorities will feel it... - Henri

Should we really apologise for Apartheid? (19/07/2007 12:49)
I was still a teenager when apartheid ended. Should I apologise for something I had no control over? If your parent killed some one else, should you be punished for their actions? Should you be held responsible and should you be made to feel guilty? I dont think so, we are not our parents! - proudly white

**The last comment is my favorite. It says to me:"I am white but had nothing to do with all the stuff and privileges I inherited. My parents are to be blamed. They were the violent and brutal theives. But I am still proud to be white!"

What a turn from the Christian ethic of "honor thy parents" hey. Where is all that religious zeal and defense of the volk and its Christian values?

Instead, the inheritors are turning on their parents and denying their religious dictum that "the sins of the father fall on the children."

It seems that post-apartheid white redemption is found not in confessing and "owning" sins but rather in flat-out denial.

And all that stolen wealth, structural privilege, and brutal whiteness, is similarly redeemed in calculated denial.


Eugene said...

I hate those "I don't want to feel guilt" mother-fuckers. What they are really saying is, "I don't want any challenges to my whiteness or the privilege it brings me. Nor do I want to face up to all the laws more numerous to mention that have been broken and the peoples committed genocide against to bring me that privilege. I benefit from it now. The darkies should just get over it because again, it benefits me, the great whitie and MY privilege." I hate those mother-fuckers.

Ridwan said...

Eugene it amazes me just how glib those folks can be. "Just get over it and move on ..."

Over what? And move on where?

"It" would have to be confronted and that can't be done in 13 years only.

"Move" would mean that justice would have to be implemented.

In either case most whites would shout "reverse racism"!

I am reminded of a white South African who left because he hated Blacks a few years ago.

He went to live in Los Angeles where his boss was a Black man.

In LA he spent a lot of his time complaining about being discriminated against because he was white.

He labelled his boss an Affirmative Action hire, etc.

He used to write letters to an expat magazine in the US.

All throughout you would swear he was a man enslaved and severely discriminated against.

Another universal feature of whiteness is the insistence that they are pigmentation victims.

No matter where they find themselves, their race is under threat form evil darkies.

Be well brother,

Eugene said...


Dione said...

Eugene, I love the fact that you speak of the people who don't want to give up their white rights, and call them Mother-Fuckers! Lets face it, they complaine about how affirmative action hurts them, the poor white males. Its a load of bullshit, and its a fine thing to have people out there pointing it out. I only wish there was more that can be done, and basically if we all live everyday doing our best to treat others with dignity and respect, and show others how to be decent human loving individuals, then we have done ok for the day.
And hey, its pretty cool that Ridwan is keeping up on his blog while in Mexico. I hope your having a great time Ridwan.


Eugene said...

I can't help it. They piss me off and they don't think when you talk nice to them. They seem to see niceness as a weakness and lord their white privilege over their confronters. (Notice how I am using the racist, "they").

Eugene said...

It's a little difficult for me to keep my mouth shut, not that I try.

Dione said...

I think sometimes people have to speak there mind. Perhaps "they" can get over it,(lol) and accept that individuals who only see color, or don't see color on purpose are simple minded individuals, ignorant in almost every way. It can be truely hard to overcome adversity, especially when it comes to diversity. (I didn't mean for that to ryhm, but oh well). I'v put up with all kinds of idiot crap, ignorance in my work for example. It may not be as race issue, but it's a humanitarian issue, and what inspires me is that there are people out there who are not afraid to voice their concerns, and take actions. I once took a break in the dam mall where I work; this was about 6 years ago. I was sitting there trying to mind my own business when I couldn't help but over hear two women managers telling their young Muslim lady employee how she was not good with the customers. This completely pissed me off. I had ordered food from that employee several times, and thought that she was if anything too courteous, and very pleasant. I sat there while she was badgered through her review, and I wanted to make a statement, but not make her situation worse. I went and got her a smoothie, walked back to where this was taking place, and simply said "here this is for you". I walked away, and I heard her bosses make some comments but I for sure hope I embarrassed them. That’s two down, and a hell of a lot more to go. So many assholes out there and so little time!