Continued on Barely A Blog is my conversation with South African philosopher Dan Roodt, Ph.D., a noted Afrikaner activist, author of the polemical essay “The Scourge of the ANC,” literary critic and director of PRAAG. (Previous interviews with Dan: “The Elephant In The Pistorius Courtroom” and “Little America At The Tip Of Africa.”)
ILANA MERCER: The Afrikaners still linger as a people, clinging to what Barack Obama would indubitably deride as their Bibles, their guns and their bigotries. Dubbed the white tribe of Africa, this organic nation has, however, ceased to exist as a nation-state, dissolved by democratic decree. The sundering of state sovereignty has, in turn, exposed Afrikaners to ethnic cleansing, a familiar feature of democracy a la Africa. You once remarked that the tale of this negotiated betrayal has yet to be told. “Into the Cannibal’s Pot” tells something of how Mandela’s ANC said “No” to minority veto power, power-sharing, or any meaningful devolution of power to the regions of South Africa. Its wish was the command of power-brokers in Britain and America. Do elaborate. What role did the US play in compelling South Africa’s permanent minority “to legislate itself into a permanent position of political subordination” (to quote Duke University’s Donald L. Horowitz)?
DAN ROODT: I have already referred to US economic sanctions imposed on us at the behest of the Black Caucus in your Congress, supported by the Republican Party. Under current conditions there will be no White Caucus in the USA stepping in to force our government to accord us the right of self-determination, to be free of racial-preference in hiring and in business, will there? Baron Robin Renwick of Britain also made sure that he stripped the white minorities of the ex-Rhodesia and South Africa of all political and military power. Even in areas where we are in the majority, we cannot even influence local, municipal politics.
The problem in South Africa is precisely that we have been destabilized by outside intervention, just like Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria and all the other countries. Now the natural balance of power in this country no longer holds and there is a free-for-all for predators. The ANC and their Communist Party allies actually use the term “National Democratic Revolution” for their takeover in 1994 and for all intents and purposes it was a revolution. We needed reform, not revolution. This country would naturally have developed into a federation or confederation, to the benefit of all. Some people were arguing for a complete devolution of power along Swiss lines, with our legal districts being turned into cantons. I still think that would be a way to get South Africa out of the mess it is in, but we lack the institutional or media influence to even argue this in public. The universities also kowtow to the government and no meaningful research will be undertaken on this topic, as there used to be in the past.
I actually popularized the term, first used by J.S. Mill and De Tocqueville, “tyranny of the majority”, in South Africa. You hear that more and more. Here the Western minority – who actually made this country into the jewel of Africa that it is – is constantly subjugated and even punished. The paradox is that the USA gives its own minorities special rights in relation to the majority, but in its foreign policy supports exactly the opposite, a “tyranny of the majority” which flies in the face of classical liberalism.
That is why many Afrikaners these days root for our Cold War enemy, Russia, in international contests. At least Putin seems to care for European minorities, as in Crimea. Many Europeans also think that Putin’s Russia represents the last bulwark against a global, multicultural empire ruled by billionaire oligarchs from Wall Street and the City of London and which will not tolerate nations anymore.
MERCER: “I would not look to the US constitution,” said US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in an interview with Al-Hayat TV. “If I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012, I might look at the constitution of South Africa …” Having studied this wordy but worthless document while writing “Into the Cannibal’s Pot,” I concluded that South Africa’s constitution allows a good deal of mischief for the ostensible greater good. It even has a clause devoted to “Limitation of Rights.” So too is redistributive “justice” a constitutional article of faith therein. And nowhere does this this obese document state whether South Africans may actually defend the most precious of rights. If anything, self-defense can be an offense in progressive South Africa. How well has Ginsburg’s preferred constitution served the endangered Afrikaners?
ROODT: Yes, you are quite right. The South African Constitution is a horrible document, full of platitudes and unnecessary clauses and setting up bureaucracies to supposedly protect us but that have proven either ineffectual, toothless or guilty of anti-white racism. The so-called South African Human Rights Commission, for example, almost invariably singles out whites for attack and does not even respond to complaints laid by members of the Western minority. I a country where the right to life does not seem guaranteed by the state, given the huge number of murders taking place, you would think that the Human Rights Commission would at least admonish government about this dire state of affairs. Alas, no! It is precisely busy sniffing out Orwellian thoughtcrime, speechcrime and harassing authors and bloggers for not being politically correct. In one absurd case, it fined a hair saloon for not doing both Caucasian and ethnic hair – whereas there are thousands of ethnic hair saloons who would never serve a Caucasian customer.
I could well imagine that American liberals could like our constitution, as it has affirmative action built right into it. Most rights enshrined therein are qualified in terms of “rectifying the injustices of the past”, etc., so no right can stand on its own against the universal need for affirmative action and race preferences.
During the very one-sided negotiations or capitulation by FW de Klerk and his chief netotiator, Roelf Meyer, some clauses were inserted, supposedly to placate conservatives, usually to do with language and culture, as well as the right to self-determination. However, these have remained a dead letter and are not applied by the state. At least two bodies supposed to oversee language rights, as well as cultural and religious rights, have at times stopped functioning completely.
As in the USA, litigation in South Africa is expensive and fighting a case through the courts for years up to the level of the so-called Constitutional Court results in frustration most of the time as the court has been packed with ultra-liberal judges who even go beyond what the ANC government would require. In fact, the SA Constitution is an activist judge’s dream.
You must understand that, despite the lack of order, corruption and other hallmarks of African culture, Africans are essentially conservative, holding on to their beliefs within a largely patriarchal society. They also have a fairly direct sense of justice, so if you attack me or steal from me, I kill you. The death penalty is often meted out on the spot by mobs in South Africa who might catch a thief, rapist or murderer red-handed. The majority in South Africa, white and black, support the death penalty for certain crimes. Soon after 1994, however, the Constitutional Court declared the death penalty “unconstitutional” and it was abolished. The same thing happened with same-sex marriage. Africans are mostly homophobic and the majority would never support same-sex marriage if a referendum were held on the issue. Yet the Constitutional Court interpreted the anti-discrimination clauses in the constitution in such a way that it also applied to gays and that was it. We got same-sex marriage and all the women’s magazines started to carry articles featuring married lesbians showing off their brand-new babies after a visit to the nearest sperm bank.
One of the greatest defects of the constitution is that it does not guarantee private property which again is qualified in terms of the “public interest”. Section 25.4.1 states:
… the public interest includes the nation’s commitment to land reform, and to reforms to bring about equitable access to all South Africa’s natural resources.
South Africa has always had a very efficient and precise register of all immovable property in the country and to claim that some land was simply “stolen” as has become the fashion, is simply ridiculous. Yet the constitution has placed all property in jeopardy and there have been almost a 100 000 “land claims”, none of which would stand scrutiny in a court of law but have been processed by the government bureacracy.
Without the constitution, I think we would have had far more protection under Roman-Dutch law and the English common law that have served South Africa for centuries. Also, there would have been no “super court” above all others to which the state so often appeals when the citizens obtain favorable judgements in the normal courts.
MERCER: Other than Hermann Giliomee, author of “The Afrikaners,” I don’t know of a writer in South Africa more insightful than you. Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, however, saw fit to ruthlessly lampoon you. Tell our readers about being ambushed by that smart-aleck, smarmy icon of the American left.
ROODT: Yes, I must say that has been the singular most absurd experience I have ever had and certainly does not say much for the ethics of some American TV interviewers. We spent almost a whole day here near my home filming while they asked me questions like: “Do you feel concerned about your people becoming extinct in South Africa?” Obviously, I would then reply with “Yes” and give some further explanation. Four or five hours later, they would steer the conversation in the direction of “racism” and then ask me: “Do you feel concerned about racists becoming extinct in South Africa?” To that question I would then reply “No” and perhaps say that there are not many more racists in South Africa than in most other places, etc., and that we are actually highly tolerant of non-Western cultures with a magical worldview, strange customs, superstitions and so on.
However, during the final editing, they cut up the lengthy interview completely and presented it in jumbled form, so that where I originally said “no” they would insert a “yes” from another part of the footage. It was all part of a joke, but presented in such a way that I would look like a ridiculous, die-hard “racist” worrying about my fellow racists “becoming extinct”. The meaning was exactly the opposite of what I had said. Afterwards, the episode was also placed on the internet and some of my local and foreign enemies repeatedly posted the link on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere in a whole campaign to vilify me.
I suppose I could go and sue the Daily Show for libel in a New York court. However, my faith in New York courts being limited, as are my time and energy already being copiously expended on our asymmetrical struggle here, I have not actually pulled the trigger on that one yet.
MERCER: The accusations of racism and other isms you keep getting from haters: I’ve never heard you say anything remotely anti-Semitic. I’m Jewish. You and I are friends.
ROODT: Anti-Semitism is not really an issue in South Africa, and we do not have a Muslim threat as Europe does. Amid all the multicultural conflict between races and cultures here, that is perhaps our one blessing. Personally, I have interesting discussions with both Jews and Muslims – many South African Muslims actually speak Afrikaans very well – so I try not to get caught up in the Middle-Eastern conflict. My only criticism of South African Jews is that they tend to be too liberal! But then I tell myself there are many other liberals too, so one should not generalize.