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Christians have so many times ignored the teachings of Jesus and become racists instead. It happened during the crusades. It happened in Nazi Germany. It happened in apartheid South Africa. Christians argued for racism, xenophobia and inequality, claiming that white Europeans were elected by God to rule over and even kill other ethnicities. There arguments however, have been extremely weak, since the Bible does not support white pride. Come on, Europeans are hardly even present in the Bible, and the Saviour of the world is a middle eastern Jew!
Yesterday, the xenophobic Swedish party known as the Sweden Democrats forced re-elections after refusing to let the government’s budget go through, and they also threatened that they will do so with every budget that doesn’t accept their demands of cutting non-white immigration. Since neither the left coalition nor the right have majority, this means trouble. Needless to say, this has produced a lot of debate in our little country, and while most Christians emphasize that we need to push back against the rise of racism and neo-fascism, more and more Christians are either joining the Sweden Democrats, or lobbying for the conservative coalition, where the Christian Democrats is a member, should listen to and cooperate with the racists.
As we’re experiencing a racist revival among Christians in all of Europe, the old bad arguments that were used by Nazi Lutherans and Apartheid Presbyterians pop up again. I will deal with these in depth when I have time, but for now let me just give some quick comments to the most common ones:
“Acts 17:26 says ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.'”
Desmond Tutu, formerly archbishop of the Anglican Church in South Africa and a well-known anti-apartheid activist, is one of those people that accuse the state of Israel of practicing the crime of apartheid when it comes to how Palestinians are being treated. This is a quite controversial accusation though, even if it is supported by several human rights advocates and academics, it has also received a lot of criticism, since the situation in Israel and Palestine is noticably different from the South African case.
Mitchell G Bard from Jewish Virtual Library points at the fact that around 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs that have equal rights compared to Jews and other people groups in Israel. Arabs and Muslims are represented in Knesset, in the courts and at the universities. FW De Klerk, former South African President who together with Nelson Mandela ended apartheid, also says that because of this reason it is unfair to call Israel an apartheid state. “You have Palestinians living in Israel with full political rights. They are represented in the Knesset. You don’t have discriminatory laws against them, for example that they may not swim at certain beaches or anything like that.”
However, people who use the apartheid analogy to describe Israeli policy usually discusses how Palestinians are treated by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza rather than how Arabs are treated within Israel. The thing is that race actually can equal nationality according to international law. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Israel along with most other countries has signed, defines racial discrimination as “any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life” (emphasis mine).
As Nelson “Madiba” Mandela went home to the Lord, basically all of my activist friends have mourned his departure, and of course my South African friends as well. When I was in SA this summer many prayed for his healing, not because they thought he was immortal but because they felt that they weren’t ready to live in a South Africa without him.
He stood not only for justice and equality but also for unity and reconciliation, and even though I personally think he treated the whites a bit too kindly through letting them keep large parts of their wealth, and thus not overcoming SA’s enormous economic inequality, the fact that he wasn’t as hostile towards whites as for example Robert Mugabe created an atmosphere of much more tolerance and acceptance.
However, many South African whites are very disappointed with him and the ANC, some for racist reasons and some for facing the fact that they’re not as privileged as before, and thus there is still a hostility towards Mandela. This is appearant in that some whites still call him a “terrorist” just as the racist minority government, as well as the United States, once did. And even today some Americans join their white South African cousins in calling Mandela “terrorist”. Needless to say, this is severely problematic.
One should recognize that “terrorist” is a pejorative term. It is used by states that kill civilians to describe small armed groups that oppose their interests. Yes, states that kill civilians. I know of no state that accuse others of killing civilians that do not do it themselves. And I don’t just mean through collateral damage, but intentional killing of civilians.
I knew SA would be unequal, but this is ridiculous. White River is a 100% Western town, with supermarkets, KFC:s, cinemas and luxurious houses with large fences. 15 minutes from it you will find Backdoor, an informal township where thousands live in favelas without running water, where there is 80 % unemployment and where so many are suffering from HIV.
The contrast is so painful. It’s obvious to all that the poor aren’t poor because of lack of resources, but because they have been oppressed and neglected for decades.
However, it would be wrong to say that apartheid created Backdoor’s poverty. The swati people living there were probably just as poor before they immigrated to Backdoor, or even poorer. What apartheid does is that it ignores people and denies them their rights. And even though there has been some progress during the later years, the spirit of apartheid is still alive here, separating people based on their colour.