Friday, February 20, 2004

Racial Attitudes of Afrikaners and White English-Speakers in 1984

The following table is courtesy of the May 1986 issue of New Internationalist:



White opinion survey 198412

A - Afrikaans speaking


E - English speaking

For
Against
Group Areas Act
People can only live in areas allotted to their own racial category.
A
E
76.8
42.4
16.1
38.4
Separate Education
children go to schools designated for their own racial grouping.

A
E

90.2
55.4

5.1
28.3

Separate Amenities
Public transport, places of entertainment etc. segregated. This is now not universally applied and depends upon decisions made by local authorities.
A
E
84.9
50.5
8.1
30.1
African Homelands
All Africans are allotted a tribal homeland, which the Government then considers to be their only real home - even if they have never visited it. They are then only in ‘white South Africa’ to work.
A
E
89.6
60.3
4.2
19.7
Separate Voters’ Rolls
Black people vote only for people of their own racial category, for authorities which only have very limited powers. Africans still have no vote at all in national elections.
A
E
92.1
64.3
2.5
17.7
Mixed Marriages Act
Forbade marriage between people from different racial groups until it was repealed in 1985.
A
E
78.9
41.3
16.6
41.3
Immorality Act
Forbade sex between people from different racial groups until it was repealed in 1985.
A
E
81.3
37.8
13.4
41.0

There are two things worth noting here:

  1. Negative attitudes towards black equality were common amongst English-speakers as well as Afrikaners. This was especially so where political rights were concerned. Matter of physical intimacy were another story - nearly as many English-speakers were against the Group Areas Act as supported it, at least as many came out against the Mixed Marriages Act as did for it, while more actually opposed the Immorality Act than supported it.
  2. Nevertheless, Afrikaners were much more strongly opposed to measures that would permit physical proximity of the races. This was especially the case when the prospect of interracial sex was at issue, with an Afrikaner-English support gap of 34.8% for the Group Areas Act, 34.8% for Separate Education, 34.4% for Separate Amenities, 37.6% for the Mixed Marriages Act, and a massive 43.5% for the Immorality Act. In not a single category did Afrikaners show less than overwhelming support for racial exclusion.

Now that we are 20 years from the era in which this poll was carried out, one expects, or at least hopes, that attitudes have dramatically altered for the better since then, even amongst Afrikaners. Matters will likely have been helped along by the emigration of many of those least willing to tolerate an integrated South Africa, while even those remaining behind who dislike the new dispensation will probably be too discrete with their opinions to honestly share them with poll interviewers.*

In any case, what is at issue here isn't attitudes today, but the accuracy of my assertion that overwhelming Afrikaner support was the pillar on which apartheid rested, and that "anti-communism" had little to do with white opposition to its demise even in the 1980s. This polling data bears out precisely that claim.

*Embarrasment at admitting to racist views is known to occur in most surveys of public opinion, and it is an issue that perennially comes up in France, where support for Jean-Marie Le Pen is repeatedly underestimated by pre-election polls.