South Africa After Apartheid: Black Rule Alone is No Guarantee for Black Freedom

by | Jan 25, 2002

Moral crusaders have the habit of heading off to their next crusade without bothering to see whether anything went wrong on their last one. During the ’80s, TransAfrica, NAACP, Black Congressional Caucus, Hollywood glitterati, college students, and other groups held massive protests on college campuses and at the South African Embassy, built shanty towns, and […]

Moral crusaders have the habit of heading off to their next crusade without bothering to see whether anything went wrong on their last one. During the ’80s, TransAfrica, NAACP, Black Congressional Caucus, Hollywood glitterati, college students, and other groups held massive protests on college campuses and at the South African Embassy, built shanty towns, and called for disinvestment and sanctions against South Africa for its racist apartheid system.

There’s no longer apartheid and there’s black rule in South Africa, but what’s the story there now? Andrew Kenny writes about it in his article, “Black People Aren’t Animals.” The article appears in the December 15 issue of the British magazine The Spectator, the world’s oldest continuously published English language magazine (est. 1838).

Each South African day sees an average of 59 murders, 145 rapes and 752 serious assaults out of its 42 million population. The new crime is the rape of babies; some AIDS-infected African men believe that having sex with a virgin is a cure. Twelve percent of South Africa’s population is HIV-positive, but President Mbeki says that HIV cannot cause AIDS.

In response to growing violence, South Africa’s minister of safety and security, Steve Tshwete, says: “We can’t police this; there’s nothing more we can do. South Africa’s currency, the rand, has fallen about 70 percent since the African National Congress (ANC) came to power in 1994. Emigration from South Africa (mainly of skilled people) is now at its highest level ever.”

Kenny asks, “Is South Africa doomed to follow the rest of Africa into oblivion?” He says no, but I’m not as optimistic because of the pattern nearly everywhere else in sub-Saharan Africa. The tragic fact of business is that ordinary Africans were better off under colonialism. Colonial masters never committed anything near the murder and genocide seen under black rule in Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique, Somalia and other countries, where millions of blacks have been slaughtered in unspeakable ways, which include: hacking to death, boiling in oil, setting on fire and dismemberment. If as many elephants, zebras and lions had been as ruthlessly slaughtered, the world’s leftists would be in a tizzy.

When Zimbabwe, then Southern Rhodesia, was under white rule, the ANC demanded the ouster of Prime Minister Ian Smith and the installation of black rule. Today, Zimbabwe’s Minister Robert Mugabe commits gross violations of black and white human rights. With the help of lawless thugs, Mugabe has undertaken a land-confiscation program from white farmers. Instead of condemning Zimbabwe human-rights abuses, the South African government has given Mugabe its unqualified support.

Kenny says that whites treat blacks like animals. When a dog misbehaves, we don’t blame the dog — we blame the owner for improper training. In Africa, when blacks behave badly, Kenny says colonialism, imperialism, apartheid, globalization or multi-nationalism is blamed for not bringing up blacks properly. Liberals saw South Africa’s apartheid and other human-rights abuses as unjust because blacks were suffering at the hands of whites. They hold whites accountable to civilized standards of behavior. Blacks are not held to civilized standards of behavior. From the liberal’s point of view, it might even be racist to expect blacks to adhere to civilized standards of behavior.

During South Africa’s apartheid era, I visited several times and lectured at just about every university. In a 1987 column, I wrote: “Africa’s past experience should give Western anti-apartheid activists some pause for thought. Wouldn’t it be the supreme tragedy if South African blacks might ponder at some future date, like the animals of Jones’ Manor (George Orwell’s Animal Farm), whether they were better off under apartheid? That’s why blacks must answer what’s to come after apartheid? Black rule alone is no guarantee for black freedom.”

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. In 1980, he joined the faculty of George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and is currently the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics. He is also the author of Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination? and Up from the Projects: An Autobiography. Williams participates in many debates and conferences, is a frequent public speaker and often gives testimony before both houses of Congress. This editorial was made available through Creator's Syndicate.

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