Was Apartheid Really The Most Evil Regime In The World?
Albert Brenner - 10/8/2007
How does one measure evil? Is there such a thing as a universal 'index' according to which deeds of evil can be judged? If we, for example, take the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the final arbiter of what is evil and what is not, how could we then judge Zimbabwe as being more evil than, for example, China and Saudi Arabia – two countries enjoying marvelous ties with the West despite their abysmal human rights records. Is this blatant hypocrisy, or just the obligatory Real Politic of individual nations surviving in a cynical world where might (financial, military, etc) is right?
Be that as it may; it would be quite an interesting exercise to give Joe and Jane Average a list of five words to rank according to the evilness 'index' of the West. For example; take the words Apartheid, Gowon, Mengisthu, Hutu, and Kim IL Sung, and then give them a number, 1 – 5, on a scale of the evil they signify. Try it.
It would not be surprising if your ranking closely resembles the original order of the words I listed. The last four words will most probably be vaguely familiar and have some negative connotations, whereas the first word, Apartheid, is guaranteed to conjure up images of the most evil kind. The question now obviously is whether evil is evil most foul simply because you know about it, especially in view of the fact that the above four words that you are not really familiar with denote genocides of a million and more.
Did you know that fewer than 2000 people were deliberately killed by security forces in South Africa during the 42 years of Apartheid? And did you know that 90% of all the politically motivated deaths during Apartheid (total 20 000) was due to Black-on-Black (mostly tribal) violence? 20 000 too many of course, but seen against the background of the never-ending vilification of white South Africans, the four million-man genocides mentioned above and innumerable unknown other evils like, for example, Robert Mugabe's Knighthood, awarded by the Queen while he was massacring 21 000 Ndebeles in 1984, surely must illustrate that selective (media-borne) knowledge of evil can never be the ultimate criteria when putting together an 'index' of universal evil.
Lest I stand accused of quantifying evil, let us examine the reason why Apartheid's 2000 dead in 42 years is judged as being more evil than, amongst others, Pol Pot's 2 million dead in 4 years and Rwanda's 1 million dead in 3 months. Apartheid South Africa was ruled by whites, and whites (the West) demand that their kin, wherever they may find themselves on this lonely planet, act according to the moral standards they have set themselves, be it those inherent in human rights, democracy or capitalism. Whenever a white nation transgresses, it is punished till it conforms….and rightly so.
Noble and honourable indeed the West's moral hegemony is, especially given the fact that none of the other races bother to do so at all. Japan can't be bothered (except financially) by China's human rights abuses, neither can black South Africa by Mugabe's horror regime, or Saudi Arabia by the Taliban's madness. Different moral strokes for different coloured folks, it would seem.
But then, the West has always been on a mission…..to make existence as livable as possible, for all humanity. A quest not easily undertaken or brought to fruition, especially when living in the moral outskirts of progressive human existence. ..like in Africa. Did you know that the life expectancy of black South Africans nearly equaled that of Europeans during the last decade of Apartheid? Did you know that the black population nearly trebled during Apartheid? Did you know that black South Africans had the highest per capita income and education levels in Africa during Apartheid? No, of course you didn't….because your view of evil has already been defined.
Imagine being on a mission…to rid your surrounding world of primitive ignorance, and then you stumble across the last hurdle (the final acknowledgement of universal human rights, democracy, etc) – not because you wanted to….but because your fellow runners simply refuse to acknowledge its existence.