Wednesday, February 11, 2004

White South African Attitudes towards the Apartheid Past

A very interesting interesting paper that gives some hard numbers about the attitudes of white South Africans with regards to their country's recent past. What is worth noting here is that these numbers almost certainly understated the real level of ambivalence towards the changes occurring in that country when the surveys referenced in it were carried out.

As an unrelated aside, it is also worth pointing out, for those who like to parrot rubbish about how black rule has lead to "skyrocketing" crime rates, that violent crime was already raging uncontrollably during the apartheid era, due in large part to the active encouragement of the government at the time. "Black on black" crime was a useful tool in dividing the black population and discrediting the ANC in the eyes of a Reagan administration all too willing to see what was going on in South Africa as a manichean struggle between brown bolshevik hordes and valiant white defenders of "civilization." The only thing that has changed since the demise of apartheid is that with the passing of the Group Areas Act and the abolition of the black "Homelands", the crime epidemic that had once blighted only the lives of black Africans could no longer be contained away from the eyes of South Africa's white population. The apartheid-era police, which allocated only 6 percent* of its staff to dealing with real crimes as opposed to violations of the apartheid regulations, and then mostly those committed against whites, had never learnt the art of effective policing, so when the new dispensation came to be, the inevitable impression from the white perspective was that crime suddenly "exploded"; as the saying goes, those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind.

*See Page. 151 of A Concise History of South Africa, Robert Ross, 1999, Cambridge University Press.