[OPE-L:3140] Re: RE:race and justification in Zimbabwe

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Thu May 11 2000 - 20:16:23 EDT

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Dear Rakesh, on the issue of race in Zimbabwe you wrote (OPE-L:3032):

>And I find your recent analogizing of the conditions of Weimar Jews to
>Zimbabwean whites (the former, you may remember, did not use state power to
>expropriate the best lands of the Aryans and then subject them to racial
>terror for more than one hundred years) and implicitly of the war veterans
>to Germany's will executioners to be absurd.

Well, I find your comment extremely offensive. Indeed, you could not be
more offensive if you tried! I in NO WAY "analogized the *conditions* of
the Weimar Jews to Zimbabwean whites". I did draw attention to the racist
JUSTIFICATIONS - the "rhetoric" - used by three *dictators* (Mugabe, Hitler
and Amin) in three particular contexts. I wrote:

>>Why does Mugabe consistently justify his use of force with 'racist'
rhetoric? Hitler used exactly this sort of rhetoric to justify seizing
property from a racial minority in Germany (then, the argument was that
Jews owned a disproportionately large percentage of Germany's wealth). BTW
it is not a coincidence that the leader of the war veterans has adopted the
nickname 'Hitler' - Idi Amin was another admirer who used racial
legislation to dispossess Ugandans of Indian origin.

I object strongly to your attempt to misrepresent my argument. I have in
several statements made it clear that I consider ANY JUSTIFICATION for
political action that is based on RACE to be utterly objectionable
(including yours). You are, of course, correct that Europeans subjected
black Africans, Australian aboriginals, and the indigenous peoples of North
America, Latin America and Asia, to 'racial terror' - all backed, I might
remind you, by racist justifications. You are incorrect if you believe
that these historical precedents now make it OK for a ruling party to use
race to attack a minority of white Africans - or ANYBODY else! In the
first place, the question of "rightful ownership" confronts a history of
inter-tribal conquest, oppression and land appropriation predating European
occupation. Secondly, white Africans and black Africans stood up TOGETHER
to racist regimes in the past, and are willing to stand up TOGETHER to
racist regimes in the present. Thirdly, racially motivated attacks on
people are never OK.

I stand by my original statement:

>>(2) that land should not be seized purely on the basis of the racial,
tribal or party membership of its 'owner'. I.E the land reform issue is
NOT about the 700f fertile land that is owned by 'whites' who make up 2%
of the population; it IS about the 700f fertile land that is owned by 2%
percent of the population. The removal of the racial element in the
reformulation is not a semantic issue. Racial legislation has played far
too big a part in Southern African history for the wording of statements to
be considered irrelevant.

Land redistribution (whether it is carried out in the United States, Latin
America, Africa - or even Europe) does NOT have to be justified in racial
or tribal language. Frankly, I find it extraordinary that anyone should
even want to justify land redistribution in these terms. [Btw, my
objections to your message do not extend to your more helpful comments
about the details of the particular petition I posted to this list, with
which I agree].

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