April  2018
USEFUL IDIOT ?
In the late 1960's I became involved with the anti-apartheid movement in New Zealand, fronting for the local branch of HART (Halt All Racist Tours organisation). It was a cause that started with churches, trades unions, the NZ labour Party -and students-which I brought back to my rural home town after graduating- to a hostile reception by rugby-loving locals. South Africa's apartheid Officially "separate development" but in practice, white minority rule) was a big issue here in NZ because of our sporting and cultural ties. Their refusal to host Maori players in touring NZ All Blacks Rugby teams particularly incensed many New Zealanders and acceptance of this condition by the NZ Rugby Union, and the NZ government's refusal to intervene, inflamed the situation further. In 1981, escalating civil disorder in NZ caused 2 matches of a tour by South Africa's Springboks rugby team to be cancelled, and sporting ties then largely ceased until after the fall of the minority regime there in 1994.

I recall being pessimistic about the future of Nelson Mandela's new 'Rainbow Nation', while certain that white minority rule should not and could not continue. I felt strongly that Black Africans, need to run their own countries, even if their path to eventual good government was slow and painful. I doubt I expected it to go as badly wrong as it has though; in Zimbabwe, and now in South Africa itself. But I still think that people should rule themselves, even if they're not very good at it to begin with, otherwise they forever dwell on grievances and blame others for their problems- like my Irish ancestors are famous for doing.

And I was personally affronted by South Africa's racism- which in my view (then and now) is treating someone as inferior because of their race, even against evidence to the contrary. Most people in the anti-apartheid movement back then wanted a world which nobody is excluded from participating fully in because of their race.

But not everyone: By the '80s it had become clear to me that some players here had other agendas:

At a 1970's closed 'leaders' meeting in Wellington, trade unionist Pat Kelly exhorted us all to cause as much civil disorder as possible; 'to break down this rotten capitalist society and replace it with worker control'. Which shocked me- considering the butchers bill for the USSR's and China's socialist experiments. And some Maori activists quite openly used the movement to claim preference for their race above others, not even paying lip service to 'everyone should have an equal chance' which I had naively thought was our founding principle. This was even more of a shock. And, in 2018, the NZ Labour Party (which fits somewhere between Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders) has refused to condemn uncompensated expropriation of land owned by white South Africans, showing that opposing racism was ever just a flag of convenience. Imagine if whites were doing the expropriating! I had been, in Lenin's maybe apocryphal words, one of those "useful idiots": 50 years ago, our goal was to overturn race-based laws and by the 1990's racial equality in law had been largely achieved throughout the West (America's seminal Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964). But this didn't correct inequalities quickly enough for most campaigners, so there was then a surge of 'affirmative action' in many Western countries; temporary racial preferences to give an immediate lift to those previously excluded. Which seemed only fair, except they tended to become entrenched, like Maori seats in the NZ parliament (though these date from 1867). So much for our 'no race-based laws' placards! And disparities remained stubbornly large, but by then, the idea that 'race is a social construct with no scientific validity' began to gain currency. This theory suggested that remaining inequalities could therefore only be the result of residual discrimination, at least to the extent they're not cultural, or that changes needed more time to take effect. Unfortunately, it's not true- though it's taken decades for this to become clear: Race is NOT just a social construct; there are genetic differences which corelate closely with what we generally identify as different racial identities that, for example, are now indispensable in the identification and treatment of a multitude of diseases and conditions. Even the New York Times, a news source that can be depended on to toe the party line on racism, has recently acknowledged that race is a useful proxy for genetic differences, and not just a social construct. But while the 'social construct' theory held (and it's still widely believed by many who want it to be true), years of 'believing' every claim of discrimination- including 'unconscious bias'- has made people so scared of being accused of racism, that discrimination has reversed: Hollywood disproportionately casts African Americans in status roles, news media underreport offending by racial minorities, and police shy away from investigating criminal activity by migrant communities (Pakistani-origin sex abuse gangs in many towns in the UK for example). And, the standard test for 'unconscious bias' may itself be an artefact of bias by its researchers and promoters: But the crusade continues, and has taken a particularly pernicious turn: 'Only whites can be racist', 'evil white people and their toxic white culture'. Enough! We'll never be perfect, but in my experience, Europeans are now generally less racist in their attitudes than other ethnicities. Remaining disparities in wealth, status and income are therefore likely to be because wealth and good government take many generations to build, because of differences in culture (who can argue culture has no effect on these things!), or because of actual inherent differences- which if they exist, we can't do much about anyway, except to stop pretending they don't- and can't (a religious-level belief of some on the Left). This crusade has gone too far, and is now causing racial disharmony rather than reducing it, using ever more implausible theories to avoid facing reality ; when beliefs and facts collide, facts must give way. Identity politics cuts both ways; sooner or later those being denigrated hit back.
Pieces like: Which calls for "White DNA to be obliterated" are extremist rubbish, but not unusual in the current climate, and a propaganda gift to White Supremacists. And supressing discussion is having the opposite effect to what's intended. There is no surer way to energise a cause than persecuting followers- as is currently unfolding in the UK and Sweden: Stop the crusade now or the future is not one I want to be around for, nor what this idiot, useful or not, signed up for back in 1969.


PETER LYNN, ASHBURTON, NEW ZEALAND, 1 April 2018