Sim­plis­tic crit­ics have no right to as­sume moral su­pe­ri­or­ity

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - COMMENT -

SEV­ERAL re­spon­dents to my ar­ti­cle ac­cused me of ne­glect­ing re­search re­gard­ing the ECC. Per­haps I need re­it­er­ate that I spent 1985 to 1989 as a full-time UCT stu­dent, dur­ing which I stud­ied his­tory to hon­ours level, as well as lan­guages and bib­li­cal stud­ies.

I was able to dis­cuss con­tem­po­rary pol­i­tics with many fel­low stu­dents, in­clud­ing those in­volved in the ECC. And I served in the SADF as a con­script, an im­por­tant ex­tra ref­er­ence.

My rec­ol­lec­tions of the at­ti­tudes and opin­ions of those who em­braced the ECC’s ideals are en­tirely le­git­i­mate sources for a news­pa­per ar­ti­cle, ap­pro­pri­ately dur­ing the civil con­flict.

Re­gard­ing “re­search”, I point Dr Gavin Evans to ver­i­fi­able sources where he will read that dur­ing the 1994 elec­tion, ci­ti­zen force sol­diers (ex-con­scripts) formed the back­bone of the SADF pres­ence. His ar­ti­cle in­cluded a sur­pris­ingly large his­tor­i­cal er­ror con­sid­er­ing he is a doc­toral grad­u­ate and ex­pe­ri­enced jour­nal­ist.

I can­not see how any ex-ECC mem­bers can deny that they at­trib­uted the vi­o­lence sweep­ing the coun­try to the state se­cu­rity agen­cies alone and never pub­licly im­pli­cated the ANC or crim­i­nal “com­rades”.

Ex­citable, il­log­i­cal Steven Sch­midt im­plies I shot at chil­dren (ev­i­dence?). I moaned like most troop­ies about army de­mands, but shoot any­one? No.

I re­call vir­tu­ally no fric­tion be­tween the army and town­ship com­mu­ni­ties, but there was clearly a poor re­la­tion­ship with po­lice riot com­po­nents. Sol­diers’ pres­ence of­ten re­strained po­lice.

Dr Steele says he was placed in de­ten­tion bar­racks for re­fus­ing to do mil­i­tary ser­vice and I have the deep­est re­spect for his courage. But he does not have the right to as­sume moral su­pe­ri­or­ity above white men who com­plied with the law.

My ar­ti­cle pointed to­wards how com­plex the vi­o­lence was dur­ing the 1980s and how once this pe­riod is his- tori­cised, it can show the ne­ces­sity for the SADF’s pres­ence in the town­ships. My crit­ics were si­lent on this point.

Whites, blacks and coloureds formed the old SADF, pushed by forces be­yond in­di­vid­ual hu­man agency. How sim­plis­tic and un­rea­son­able De Gruchy, Steele, Evans and Sch­midt are to as­cribe such judge­men­tal de­mands upon their fel­low cit­i­zens. Dr Rod­ney War­wick


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