Monday, August 28, 2006

History lesson for David Cameron: the ANC were terrorists

So Margaret Thatcher was wrong about Nelson Mandela, was she, Dave?

When will this madness end? In this bid to show that the Tories have 'changed', David Cameron has been acting like a madman. And the most dangerous sort of madman; one who really should know better.

Forget (if you can) all the sound Tory principles that have been jettisoned (or at best compromised) on this 'journey'. Not content with that, David Cameron is now determined to rewrite history.

In his view, Margaret Thatcher was wrong to describe Nelson Mandela and the ANC as terrorists. Really? So what exactly were they, then? He doesn't tell us. Perhaps they are now to be known as freedom fighters - the very term that causes so much outrage today when used to justify the actions of terrorists in the Middle East.

Today Nelson Mandela is a globally respected statesman. That does not deny the bloody history that took him to that place. Yes, the ANC were fighting for a worthy cause. Apartheid was an evil policy, and it is a good thing for humanity that it was abolished. However, the fact remains that the ANC used terrorism in pursuit of their ends.

By making those comments, David Cameron has shown himself to have no respect for history. Rather like the current occupant of Downing Street. He is looking at past events with the eyes of the present, and allowing that to cloud his perception.

The truth is, the ANC were terrorists. The only difference between them and other terrorists plying their 'trade' in those days, was one of degree. They did not inflict as much damage because they were spectacularly bad at executing their plans.

Let us make a comparison. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have been trying for years to paint themselves as statesmen. To some extent, they are succeeding. But consider how ridiculous it would be if, a few years from now, a politician denounced someone who, at the height of the Troubles, had referred to them as 'terrorists'.

Cameron has been playing fast and loose with Tory policy. That is one thing. Playing with history is an altogether dangerous matter. In these days of moral relativism, compromise and triangulation, if there is one thing that should be sacred, it is history. We should have respect for historical fact. If we have a leader who does not recognise that, we are all in big trouble.

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12 Comments:

Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I assume it is because like the vast majority of us, Nelson Mandela is regarded as a hero who was incarcarated for most of his life.

12:52 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

This is true, Ellee. But that does not change the fact that the ANC was a terrorist organisation.

There is perhaps a case for saying that maybe the ANC felt that that was the best way to carry out their resistance. If someone made that case, then that is one thing.

It is however a different matter to attempt to rewrite history to sanitise the ANC, which is what David Cameron has done.

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Matthew said...

The comparisson with Gerry Adams/ IRA is poor. They are and always have represented a minority in Northern Ireland (and Ireland as a whole) and were prepared to use violence to ride roughshod over democracy. The ANC on the other hand enjoyed mass popular support if not majority support amongst all South Africans. They were the advocates of democracy against an oligarchic government.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Bel said...

We do not judge whether someone is or is not a terrorist by the amount of support they enjoy in their homebase.

On that logic, Osama bin Laden, Hamas and Hezbollah would not be terrorists, as they enjoy support among their people.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous matthew said...

Again a false comparisson. If Osama bin Laden, Hamas and Hezbollah were attacking their own authoritarian regimes in the name of bringing about one adult one vote democracy then I would say 'good on them'. But that is not what they are about. Instead of working to democratise their own countries, they want to spread a fascist ideology by killing citizens in sovereign democratic states.

1:46 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

Hello Matthew, thanks for your comment.

I see the merit in your argument, but one point:

Do you judge terrorist acts according to the objectives of the terrorists? So, if their aim is a worthy one, then that's fine. But if their aim is unworthy, then they should be condemned?

The act is the main thing. If you blow up a building, it matters not that you did it for a worthy cause.

2:38 PM  
Anonymous Matthew said...

Bel

I think the worthiness of the cause is relevent. There are some situations where a group of people can legitimately turn to terrorism, and I think denial of the vote according to race fits that description.

The best reason to be wary of the ANC in the 80s and before were not beacuse of its methods, but its links to communism. It could be argued that a transition from from apartheid oligarchy to communism would be no real improvement. Once communism collapsed in Europe, there were enough level headed people in white South Africa to realise that apartheid was untenable.

3:00 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

I think the worthiness of the cause is relevent. There are some situations where a group of people can legitimately turn to terrorism, and I think denial of the vote according to race fits that description.

I see with you here. If you see my first post above, I made the point that there was an argument for explaining the ANC's terrrorist actions. That is what David Cameron should have done. Something like, 'yes, they were terrorists, but that was the situation in which they found themselves.'

Such a position would be more in keeping with the historical record than blatantly claiming that they were not terrorists.

I agree that the worthiness of the cause is relevant. But for reasons of excuse, rather than justification. We can excuse them, but not justify them. And certainly not rewrite history to paint them as a lot better than they were.

I agree wholeheartedly with you about the communism point. In no sense could a move to communism ever be viewed as progress. That was actually the main problem with the ANC in those days. Very significant that the dying days of apartheid coincided with the long-drawn out period of communism's collapse. I hadn't actually thought about that. Interesting.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous John Moss said...

I hate to use this word, but can a "terrorist" action be defined as one which is disproportionate to the moral standards of the state/nation it seeks to overthrow?

Thus the ANC were justified as the apartheid regime was both morally wrong and evil in the way it went about imposing its rules, yet the IRA was not as they were using bombs against a state with a democratic government, free press, rule of law etc.

Osama Bin Laden and fellow travellers are therefore also not justified - except in their own twisted thinking - as their enemy is not a state or a tyrant, but a way of life freely chosen by millions.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Bel said...

Hi John Moss,

I like this point of view. However, I have one query. Who determines the 'moral standards' of the terrorists' target?

In the case of the ANC, it is easy to work out. Apartheid was morally wrong, and every right thinking person would have opposed it.

But what about a situation where the moral position is nowhere near as clear?

We should be able to look at a group and its actions and know immediately if it is a terrorist group.

Perhaps another 'test' would be to look at the targets. If innocent people are targeted, then shouldn't that be enough to class the group as a terrorist organisation?

8:51 PM  
Anonymous Old Hack said...

Bel - I concur with your views. Moreover, the ANC is not nearky as cuddly as Nelson might be and there are signs that South Africa will decline over time much as Zimbabwe has done.

What the star struck Cameron may have neglected to appreciate was that the ANC needed to change to be able to govern - and there was a long evolutionary process that led to non-racial elections. The same evolutionary process was trod by the National Party.

Margaret Thatcher was right to adopt the stance that she did. Remember, the South Africans were battling Cubans in Angola and Mozambique, the Soviets were sponsoring the ANC. Many Mandela's jailmates were dyed in the wool commies.

What should she have done? Supporting the ANC in ARMED STRUGGLE - for that is what she would have been doing - was akin to unilateral nuclear disarmament and every other bit of loony left crap that was spouted in the '80s.

David Cameron had no need to drag Baroness Thatcher's name into his meeting with Mandela. Not only is he just plain wrong, he's being bloody thick.

7:37 AM  
Blogger Bel said...

Thanks Old Hack.

You are right. People forget the evolutionary process that the ANC underwent.

You raise a very valid point about the communism angle. David Cameron made his comments in utter ignorance of the prevailing situation at the time. It is this sort of thing that concerns me. Either he has no understanding of the situation, or he dismisses such facts as irrelevant. I don't know which scares me more. Either way, his attitude to history is worrying. What sort of leader is he going to be?

11:57 PM  

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