Friday, December 6, 2013

Continuing Racism, and the Common Thread
of Conservatism and the Religious Right
in Apartheid and Segregation

South African Apartheid, above
United States Segregation, below

Both Jim Crow laws and Apartheid laws are approximately contemporaneous, with Jim Crow ending earlier; but there are some surprising similarities and overlaps.

In both South Africa and the U.S., racism does persist. We can look to the leadership of Nelson Mandela and reconciliation policies for an example of how to solve the problem. We still need to improve, so long as we have problems of unequal treatment like this video, below.

It is unclear to me why it is that these teens were arrested,why law enforcement thought that OTHER people had a greater right to use this sidewalk than agroup of black teens, lawfully awaiting the arrival of their school bus. The origins of believing one group of individuals 'belongs' or is entitled or privileged or superior over others is the essence of racial intolerance and bigotry, which is why I include it here.

Under apartheid, there was no pretense of separate but equal; they went all out for just plain separate and overtly, grossly unequal after WW II.

Both Jim Crow and Apartheid (translation - apartness) were instituted to replace and replicate 18th and 19th century slavery, creating second class citizens, or in some cases, no recognition of any right of citizenship at all. Both produced a subordinate unpaid or underpaid and highly restricted labor force for exploitation by a dominant white class. In both cases, the black population was larger than the white population.

In both cases, those who were the most responsible for this development were conservatives. In the case of Jim Crow, the conservatives were conservatives in both the Democratic and Republican parties, with the worst offenders being ultra-conservative Democrats. Both major U.S. parties were far from homogenous, with factions on the right and left. During the period of reconstruction, there were, for example, a couple of extremely liberal factions within the GOP, the Radical Republicans who were liberal Republicans, and the slightly less liberal party called literally the Liberal Republican Party. The GOP did not become exclusively conservative until the conservative Democrats fled the Democratic party post-civil rights legislation, and began purging the moderates and liberals from their ranks.

Equally a problem of conservatism in South Africa, apartheid and the preceding legislation which for all intents and purposes enslaved blacks, dated back to the Dutch colonists of South Africa and their laws prior to the Boer War which made South Africa a British territory. In the 1808, the Articles of Capitulation recognized Dutch slavery laws, but then overturned them under the anti-slavery legislation of 1833. The response of the Dutch controlled government of South Africa was to pass legislation that made native Africans indentured servants, effectively still slaves under a different name. This process of disenfranchisement and effective enslavement continued in the early 1900s, when South Africa became a separate dominion within the British Empire, in some respects even more extreme than Jim Crow, but similar in the enforcement of a separate and unequal class of citizens. This to a lesser degree was also true of people from Asia, which paralleled American anti-Asian legislation on the west coast, but at no time treated people of Asian descent or origin as badly as native Africans.

World War II resulted in desegregation in the U.S. military, and in South Africa briefly led to a move away from segregation as well. And in both cases, there was a back-lash reinforcing segregation out of fears of white people being assimilated into the black population, along with 'white culture'. We still see these fears today, in seminars and presentations at the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) and in the exultation of 'european culture' as a necessity for the continuation of American exceptionalism promoted by far right conservatives.

While Jim Crow was formally, if not entirely ended by the civil rights legislation of the mid-1960s, conservatives in South Africa continued to dominate in government, and to embrace apartheid, in various permutations of coalition governments comprised of the Afrikaner Party and the Reunited National Party forming simply the 'NP' or National Party. Prominent in the NP were Prime Minister and proestant clergy Daniel F. Malan, and later, Andries Treunicht, a Dutch Reformed Church pastor, led conservatives in maintaining and even expanding apartheid, in spite of the policy effectively making South Africa a pariah nation in the world. Treunicht started out his political career as part of the NP/National Party, but eventually left to form the not-very-originally-named Conservative party, comprised of those who didn't think the National Party was extreme enough or 'pure' enough. (Sounds a lot like the 21st century GOP and Tea Party, doesn't it?)

On the left in SA were religious lefties like Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu, and in the U.S. black Baptist pastors like Martin Luther King, Jr. On the right in the U.S., in addition to the long period where the Mormons discriminated against blacks, were prominent white Baptist ministers, like Wallie Amos Criswell. For an excellent examination of the religious right conservative support of segregation, I recommend this source.

 Both Jim Crow and Apartheid require not only separation and subjugation of black people, but both had the similarity of enacting anti-miscegenation laws, making it a crime to engage in an interracial marriage. The South Africans went further, making it a serious crime to have inter-racial sex of any kind. Both denied black people the right to vote as well, and restricted education by providing poor versions of it.

 And, not surprising, in South Africa, as occurred in the U.S., it was the combining of white progressives and liberals, with black protest movement, that ended both Jim Crow and Apartheid. In the U.S. it was with more liberal and moderate Republicans, an apparently now extinct political group, cooperating with liberal Democrats who passed the civil rights legislation that ended Jim Crow. In the case of South Africa, which was also going through an evolution from membership in the British empire as a Dominion to an entirely separate nation, simultaneously, it took until the mid-1990s to end apartheid. That also occurred because of white liberals, under various party names and factional coalitions, including the Democratic Party, the Progressive Party, the Progressive Reform Party, and the Progressive Federal Party. On the one hand, you almost need a program to follow the players, because of the factions and name changes; but the bottom line was that conservatives instituted and continued apartheid, and liberals and progressives ended it, with the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, when the NP and their conservative position were soundly rejected by a liberal white majority.

 Ironically, in 2008, another National Party emerged, not to be confused with the New National Party, one of the latter 1990's conservative pro-apartheid parties. (At least they didn't name it the NEW NEW National Party.) There appears to be a certain lack of originality in the political party naming in South Africa, but there is a very clear division between conservative racists and liberal lovers of liberty for everyone.

Conservatives appear to be significantly the same in the U.S. and South Africa in more ways than shared racism and exploitive economics; as noted by wikipedia:
"Alongside apartheid the NP government implemented a programme of social conservatism. Pornography, gambling and other such "vices" were banned. Cinemas, shops selling alcohol and most other businesses were forbidden from operating on Sundays. Abortion, homosexuality and sex education were also restricted; abortion was legal only in cases of rape or if the mother's life was threatened."
Although not on the list above, I'd add the distinctive quality of a very unique hyper-patriotism and pseudo-revisionist-history hyper-nationalism to the list as well, as a conservative trait common to both nations.

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