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 Gowon, Mengisthu, Hutu, Kim IL Sung and Apartheid, 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 first four words will most probably be vaguely familiar and have some negative connotations, whereas the last 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 refused to acknowledge its existence.
Rooi Gevaar was a propoganda phrase used by the Nationalist Party to instill fear amongst the white population - basically translates as The Red Menace - i.e. the Commies where going to come and take over the country.
Meid Naai refers to Afrikaners using the argument that if one didn't support their apartheid policies and felt that people should be judged by their ability rather then their skin tone then the only reason you were doing so was to be able to shag black women - Meid = Black Woman (derogatory) and naai = screw or ****. Afrikaners were HUGELY obessed with the evils of shagging black woman and were brainwashed from an early age about how terrible it would be for the "Volk"
Basically the Afrikaners who were the white majority - about 60/40 English speaking and Afrikaans speaking wanted to protect their low paying though stable positions as Gov employees which the National Party guaranteed.
Apartheid dehumanised Black South Africans and allowed a minority a lifestyle that they would never have been able to achieve without it.
Hmmm. It seems a little arbitrary to argue relative 'evilness'. If you're the one restricted to a squatter camp, with no opportunities to speak of and a government determined to treat you like a second class citizen, you'd probably also have a sense of injustice. You would probably also attempt to get international support.
If, for no particular reason mentioned in the article, you choose to measure evil by number of deaths (since this is an article from a philosphy site, what is evil?), then you are taking a very simplistic view of evil. For example if we were to argue that evil could be defined as resulting in 'harm to others' then apartheid, with it's millions of victims, is probably right up there. Nevertheless, it seems unnecessary to rank it's evilness unless one was looking to further the argument that apartheid wasn't that bad after all and that blacks were better off when they were ruled by whites. Hmm... oh, yes, thats exactly what the article says. It would be very hard to convince 45 million or so blacks in South Africa that they were better off under apartheid.
Also, it would be naive to believe the numbers and apparent statistics given in the article, given a complete lack of sources.
my opinion isn't worth much, but in terms of lawlessness and criminal society, South Africa seemed better off before as oppose to now.
I think its swings and roundabouts. During apartheid about 30 to 40 million people were not allowed to vote in general elections. They were barely able to travel. They had seperate, and mostly completely underfinanced and undersupported schools, hospitals and other facilities and no opportunities to be anything more than a nurse or school teacher. The list is quite thorough. Crime has always been endemic in South Africa, its just that now that the police are actually mandated to look after everyone, not just whites, they're spread very thin. Crime is definitely worse than during apartheid, but I really doubt thats a good argument for apartheid!
I agree with you that creating a negative connotation around interracial relationship to discredit a civil right argument, is not really substantiated by logic and treating part of the population as a second class citizen is equally unjustifiable.
My only objection, is about your argument of the government using "The Red Menace" just as a propaganda tool to achieve their goals.
Communism's desire to take over Southern Africa wasn't just simple propaganda. Look at the military presence of the Cubans/Russians in Angola, their training and support of different guerrilla movement that were forcing violent "revolutionary" changes in South African's neighbors. It wasn't just military support that they gave to these guerrilla moments, the Marxist ideology came hand to hand with the military one, many were send to Cuba, East Germany and Russia for deeper ideological training on the Marxist doctrine. So I respectfully disagree that the degree of the communist threat was exaggerated. If the ANC had beat the SADF in the battle field, you would had had a totally different South Africa right now.
Evil? That's a strong word, that should only ever be used with full understanding of its subjectivity. Giving it objective overtones is incorrect, as it implies we all have the same notions of what's good for us (and therefore Good) and what's bad for us (and therefore Evil). We can then perhaps, by some measure, say that Apartheid wasn't 'evil'. It was, however, objectively unjust. And that's more than enough to relegate it to the dustbin of modern history.
If the ANC had beat the SADF in the battle field, you would had had a totally different South Africa right now.
South Africa has had an ANC government with the power to amend the constitution for the last 14 years, so in effect, it has had the powers to turn SA into a communist state. And in fact, the trade unions COSATU and the Communist Party probably still have this agenda. Luckily, they will most probably be seduced my capitalist greed and fail due to their own incompetence before this happens.