Jesus of Nazareth
Politics of Religion
NOBILITY IN HYPOCRISY?Mahatma Gandhi was a man of God and a man of peace, a man who never killed anybody and never espoused terrorism or violence. It is strange that Gandhi never received the Nobel peace prize, but stranger yet that Yasser Arafat of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu, both of the African National Congress [ANC], did. The PLO and the ANC were both terrorist organizations. This article explores the hypocrisy surrounding one of those Nobel laureates: Desmond Tutu.
While we examine Tutu's past and present it is important to remember that our imperfections, errors and flaws are part of what makes us human; they are part of the game of life.
and not do as I say?"
In addition, a man or woman's spirituality is a very personal issue that quite properly remains between that individual and God. At the same time, when the same person's actions are sanctified by the purple cloth of the Anglican Communion [a mainline church that tacitly approved and rewarded Tutu's involvement in the ANC] those actions are clearly in the public realm and thus demand full accountability.
The impact that a person makes in the political arena [here I include the politics of religion] and the direct consequences of that person's deeds and opinions upon other people are the very essence of this debate. It is possible to overcome the atrocities that occur in our lives, and also to make amends. Please let me elaborate by utilizing the well-known story of Oskar Schindler: Schindler supported Hitler and the Nazi party, as did many others [including Josef Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI] in the days leading to WWII. Schindler's actions were opportune, and he saw the possibilities that the war brought in its wake, so he followed on the heels of the SS when the Germans invaded Poland. Oscar Schindler quickly got on good terms with the local Gestapo chiefs. Bribes in the shape of money and illegal black market goods flowed copiously from Schindler and gave him control of a Jewish-owned enameled-goods factory, Deutsch Emailwaren Fabrik, close to the Jewish ghetto, where he principally employed Jewish workers. At this time presumably because they were the cheapest labour, but slowly as the brutality of the Nazis accelerated with murder, violence and terror, the seeds of their plan for the total extermination of the Jews dawned on Schindler in all its horror. At this juncture, he came to see the Jews not only as cheap labour, but also as mothers, fathers, and children, exposed to ruthless slaughter. Oscar Schindler rose to the highest level of humanity, walked through the bloody mud of the Holocaust without soiling his soul, his compassion, his respect for human life, and gave his Jews a second chance at life. He miraculously managed to do it and pulled it off by using the very same talents that made him a war profiteer: his flair for presentation, bribery, and grand gestures. Oskar Schindler played the game of life and history shows that he won.
How do we determine responsibility, and is the killing of innocent people ever acceptable in order to further political goals? As we mark the sixtieth anniversary of the Nuremberg trials it is germane to note that none of the defendants were involved in the actual slayings that comprised mass death or genocide, but rather they functioned in management roles that approved or facilitated that crime. Some like Speer even spoke out against the more extreme actions of the third Reich. Therefore it follows that distance from the actual crime is irrelevant in the determination of guilt. Finally, are there any circumstances when it is actually OK to plant car bombs [in modern military parlance IEDs]; bring down passenger aircraft; strap on explosives and board a crowded commuter bus or train and, in fact, rain down death and destruction on whomsoever your political faction chooses to designate as an enemy? How do we define just the exact amount of terrorism that is publicly acceptable? The answer is simple of course, we don't. Terrorism can never publicly acceptable, period.
History will show that the retired Archbishop of Cape Town Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner [received for his work against apartheid in South African] and former Secretary General of the South African Council of Churches stands condemned of terrorism by his own actions and words. In 1986, during an interview reported by the Commonwealth Club of California Desmond Tutu, then Bishop of Johannesburg replied to a question about the use of force to obtain political power, Tutu stated flatly: "Well, it's no use saying that I haven't said that it's [terrorism] a viable alternative when the moral tone falls . . . I have said - and this is a position of the Church: the position of the Church is that oppression is an evil, war is an evil, but that there comes a time when it would be justifiable to go to war." Desmond Tutu's position adheres to the Old Testament principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth; not Jesus of Nazareth's teaching which left war to the warmongers and terror to the terrorists, and alternatively preached love and peace.
The postmodern "peace" movement's dogma can often be defined as moral equivalence. A leading proponent of this view is Desmond Tutu: for Tutu the collateral, unintended killing of civilians during any military campaign is the moral equivalent of the September 11th 2001 mass murders in New York, commuter train bombings in Spain, suicide and other bombings in Israel or Iraq; in fact, the acts of any terrorist group anywhere, including those of South Africa's African National Congress. With regard to the latter, it must be stated that Tutu's Nobel Prize co-winner Nelson Mandela led the terrorist wing of the ANC and that Tutu's close connections with, and support for, the Mandela family are beyond dispute.
When the African National Congress communists were trying to overthrow the South African government, Desmond Tutu supported them. He stated, "[Nelson] Mandela is my leader, and I am not going to be dictated to as to who should be my leader" [The Star, August 16, 1985]. At the time when Tutu made this statement, Nelson Mandela was the leading African National Congress terrorist in prison for attempting to overthrow the South African government with violence. When the South African government offered to release him from prison if he would renounce violence, Mandela refused and chose rather to stay in prison. The African National Congress murdered thousands of South Africans in its push to destroy the old government.
It is Tutu's position that any response from sovereign nations under terrorist attack becomes by extension, unwarranted "vengeance" that merely perpetuates "the cycle of violence." "Might is not right," says Tutu in a remarkable about-face. "If it is utterly reprehensible that innocent civilians were targeted in New York and Washington, how could we possibly say it doesn't apply elsewhere in the world?" Recently he lamented how "sad" it was "to see a powerful country like the US use its power frequently unilaterally to bully the rest of the world."
Please let me be quite clear: American domestic and foreign policy, or that of Israel, Spain or any other nation is not the point of this article: here one's views are tempered by one's experience at best, or by the rhetoric of politicians and other interested parties at worst. Rather, my intention is to explore the motives of Archbishop Tutu and to attempt to understand his position, a position that appears to embrace such blatant hypocrisy given his involvement with the ANC while an influential Christian leader during the Apartheid era in South Africa. Why is this important? I believe that it is critically important because today, as indeed he was twenty years ago, functioning as a representative of mainline Christianity [in this case the Anglican Communion] Tutu's hypocrisy and his posturing works against the very cause that he now purports to champion: namely pan-African poverty.
The sphere of operations of all terrorists is political even though their business is death and destruction, and it is politics, combined with greed, that muddies the waters thus allowing the major issues to continue to be swept under the table. For the record, six million children either starved to death, or died of malnutrition related diseases in 2005; millions more died of AIDS. Most of the victims were African. Also for the record when the hate and filth of terrorism metamorphoses into the pseudo-respectability of statesmanship and politics, its leaders promptly forget the rank and file and assume the palaces and luxuries of their vanquished 'foes'. Corrupt and inhumane politics, driven by people like Desmond Tutu, is the major reason why the citizens of planet Earth continue to shirk their global responsibilities and the poor of the third world continue to suffer.
Desmond Tutu characterizes the current war on terrorism as an exercise in "vengeance" rather than defense or justice. Subtly underlying this assertion is the unspoken axiom that the terrorists are not animated by premeditated evil, but were responding to original injustice. While acknowledging that al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization, Tutu maintains that many of its followers are "not lunatic fringe [but rather] are quite intelligent," and that we need to ask ourselves why such people "should be willing to pilot a plane, or strap on explosives and go to their deaths" to strike a blow against their perceived enemies.
To that question, archbishop Tutu himself provides a ready answer. These attacks, he says, are caused by the "poverty, hunger, and disease" plaguing the Third World, which he blamed, by implication, on the First World. He has even gone so far as to say that if a visitor from outer space were to survey the international scene on Earth, such a creature would recoil in horror at the manner in which the wealthy spends so much money on its war-making capabilities and so little on humanitarian causes. "A minute fraction of the first world budget would ensure that God's children everywhere would have clean water, enough to eat, a decent home, a proper education, and accessible and affordable health care," says Tutu. In short, if only the first world would give up its selfishness, the have-nots of the world could live better. Here, Tutu is on track, but his ambassadorial credentials do not measure up and his antagonistic rhetoric is counter productive.
Eager though he may be to pass judgment, this same Desmond Tutu has openly proclaimed not only compassionate understanding - but also unabashed admiration - for Winnie Mandela, South Africa's so-called "Mother of the Nation." Prominent in the Soviet-sponsored African National Congress, which was closely aligned with the South African Communist Party, Ms. Mandela used her notorious bodyguards in a protracted reign of terror, torture, and murder. The ANC committed innumerable atrocities in the name of liberation, prompting a 1988 Pentagon Report to list it as one of the world's "more notorious terrorist groups."
Many ANC victims were physically pummeled and brutalized until death - some of them on direct orders issued by Ms. Mandela. One such victim was a 14-year-old South African boy, Moketsie Stompie Seipei, whom Mandela suspected of being a police informer. Similar cruelty was meted out for such transgressions as one's failure to participate in illegal strikes sponsored by the ANC, or not obeying orders to boycott white-owned business establishments. Among Ms. Mandela's and the ANC's preferred methods of torturing suspected political opponents was "necklacing" - a practice in which automobile tires were tied around the necks of victims, filled with gasoline and lit on fire. It is estimated that some 1,000 people were set ablaze in this manner, with nearly 600 of them dying. "With tires and matches we will liberate this country," said the celebrated "Mother of the Nation." Notwithstanding Ms. Mandela's role in such atrocities [which Tutu did, in fact, criticize on several occasions], the Nobel Prize winner spoke thusly to her during the recent hearings of South Africa's Truth & Reconciliation Commission [TRC], a government panel [chaired by Tutu] investigating apartheid-era crimes: "I speak to you as someone who loves you very, very deeply, who loves your family very deeply. There are people who want to embrace you. There are many who want to do so. I beg you, I beg you, I beg you, please. I have not made any particular finding about what happened. You are a great person, and you don't know how your greatness would be enhanced if you were to say, sorry, things went wrong, forgive me. I beg you." At that point Ms. Mandela reluctantly admitted, "it is true things went horribly wrong," and issued apologies to the families of just two of her murdered victims.
It is also noteworthy that Tutu and the TRC classified an infamous 1983 ANC-sponsored bombing, in which a car packed with explosives was detonated during peak-hour traffic on Pretoria's crowded Church Street, as an "act of war" and part of a "justified struggle." The same man who now condemns the war on terror as unjustified and "vengeful" issued that remarkable pronouncement; the same man who deems the "targeting" of innocent civilians "utterly reprehensible."
Archbishop Tutu's curious standards of justice are similarly evident in his statements regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After a 300 people strong pro-Palestinian rally in Boston, a demonstration that called for an end to US military aid to Israel and an immediate pullout of Israeli forces from the West Bank he spoke at a conference on violence in the Middle East at Boston's Old South Church. "What is not so understandable [and] not justified," he said, "is what [Israel] did to another people to guarantee its existence." Claiming that his visits to Israel reminded him of the manner in which blacks were once treated in South Africa, he said, "I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about." Notably, he said nothing about the epidemic of would-be suicide bombers that make such measures an unpleasant necessity.
The Wiesenthal Center noted that Tutu's comparison of Israel with white-ruled South Africa was "both disingenuous and a distortion of the truth." The center's spokesperson added, "If there is no peace in the territories it is because Palestinian President Yasser Arafat rejected former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's offer of a Palestinian state and deployed terror as a deliberate means to bring Israel to her knees."
Tutu further claimed that Americans are sometimes afraid to criticize Israel. "The Jewish lobby is powerful, very powerful," he said. "You know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal [in the US], and to criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic. I am not even anti-white, despite the madness of that group." Asserting, "Israel is like Hitler and apartheid," Tutu urged his Boston listeners to oppose Israeli "injustices" as fervently as they once opposed Nazism and South Africa's system of racial separation. "We live in a moral universe," pontificates Tutu. "The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust."
It is quite remarkable that Tutu chose to compare Israel's government to the regimes of such monsters yet had no words of condemnation for his fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient Yasser Arafat - the man single-handedly responsible for the murder of more Jews than anyone since Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party; it also obvious that Tutu supports Iranian leader [and wannabe nuclear psychopath] Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in his jihad campaign to expunge Israel from the face of the Earth.
As a tangible expression of his view that Israeli policies stand in the way of peace in the Middle East, Tutu now endorses the burgeoning Israeli Divestment Campaign. "The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century," he claims, "but we [the ANC] would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure - in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. A similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation. Ordinary people at the grassroots fought divestment from apartheid South Africa. Faith-based leaders informed their followers, union members pressured their companies' stockholders, and consumers questioned their storeowners. Students played an especially important role by compelling universities to change their portfolios. Eventually, institutions pulled the financial plug, and the South African government thought twice about its policies. Similar moral and financial pressures on Israel are [now] being mustered one person at a time."
Notably, Tutu makes no call for divestment from any other Middle Eastern nation, though the political oppression, human rights abuses, and barbaric atrocities characterizing life throughout much of that region dwarf anything that the Palestinians have ever suffered in Israel, which Tutu dubs America's "client state." This double standard is reminiscent, of course, of the equally curious double standard that characterized the anti-apartheid crusade in the 1980s. In those days, there was nary a whisper about possible divestment from any of the myriad African nations where campaigns of ethnic cleansing, wholesale torture and mutilation, and the genocide of millions were simply a way of life.
Clearly, an unprejudiced vision of the world is not a prerequisite for winning a Nobel Peace Prize.
Understanding archbishop Desmond Tutu is not an easy task. As stated earlier, his negative impact on the overwhelming need to accelerate effective action right now in order to provide relief to the devastated people of the African continent is easier to document.
Perhaps the following statement by Tutu is the most revealing:
"When the Missionaries came, they brought the Bible.
We closed our eyes, received the Bible,
We opened our eyes... we had the Bible, they had the Land!"
The extent of Desmond Tutu's involvement with the Mandelas and the African National congress may never be fully known, but at best there was certainly strong support and more recently blatant cover-up and attempts to legitimize what happened. Tutu's current international grandstanding would appear to stem directly from his own guilt about what happened back then. His passive aggressive rhetoric, his continued support of terrorism and his pathetic attempts to justify his own past actions in the mirror of recent events are evidence of a tortured soul. Psychologically, we can bury the past in the deep dark places within us, but when a narcissistic ego controls our everyday world, our thoughts and actions will forever give us away to the impartial observer. Tutu's closet is a racial one, evident by the identity of those who he sees as today's problem, and expressed in stark clarity years ago in that verse condemning the missionaries and ironically the Holy Bible, which for Archbishop Tutu as a Christian ought to far surpass in value the political struggle for power and control in South Africa!
The Anglican Communion, which has provided Archbishop Desmond Tutu with the fine trappings and good living it sees as due to a prince of the church has, like its archbishop, done precious little to relieve the day-to-day ills of poor Africans. The horrendous death toll among the babies and infants of the African Continent speaks to that far more eloquently than Tutu's jaded rhetoric or his church's self centered and exclusively internal use of charitable funds. In fact, it is very obvious that Tutu's rhetoric only serves to erect barriers and to make first world observers [whom the media has by and large desensitized] turn their backs at a time when the focus of all humanity ought to be upon the suffering of Africa and the need to implement a permanent, compassionate and loving solution to the miserable existence of so many of our African brothers and sisters.
Mahatma Gandhi lived his earthly life mirroring the exquisite example of Jesus of Nazareth. This is the benchmark that we must all apply to our lives as Christians. Most of us will stumble and fall; to err is human, but we must stagger to our feet, admit our mistakes and like Oskar Schindler, strive to make amends for the past.
The writer acknowledges numerous sources on the worldwide web to which all credit is due and thanks is most gratefully extended.
Author: Rev. Malachy Egan
Article Date: 9 December 2005
and love your neighbour as yourself."