guilt by association

By 1990 the apartheid regime of South Africa, which had institutionalized racism, neared collapse. Internal strife, together with international economic and political pressure, forced the government's hand. F.

By 1990 the apartheid regime of South Africa, which had institutionalized racism, neared collapse. Internal strife, together with international economic and political pressure, forced the government’s hand. F.W. de Klerk, then president, began the negotiations to end the ruinous racial policies that had crippled his land.

The country released Nelson Mandela, head of the leading opposition body, the African National Congress, from prison after more than 27 years of incarceration on February 11th that year as a sign of intent.

The international solidarity movement responded to the call from partners in South Africa to maintain pressure on the de Klerk regime as a way to ensure that the course towards fundamental reform maintained its momentum. Father Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest from New Zealand who had dedicated his missionary service to this liberation struggle in South Africa travelled across Canada in March of that year as part of that effort. My family hosted him during his visit to Prince Albert, Sask.

There, as in other Canadian communities, opposition to the anti-apartheid movement and the need for change in South Africa, voiced its concern. They often framed their argument not on unpopular racist grounds but rather chose a ‘guilt by association’ line of attack. Communists and others of their ilk, they charged, held positions of authority in the African National Congress, therefore the whole liberation struggle and all its proponents, including people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu or Father Lapsley, could not and should not be trusted.

Three weeks later, after Michael Lapsley, an African National Congress member, left our home and returned to Harare, Zimbabwe where he lived in exile, opponents of the struggle for freedom in South Africa used terrorist tactics in an attempt to silence him in a supposed defence of their distorted idea of democracy. Father Lapsley opened a packet of religious material which contained a hidden letter bomb. He lost both his hands and an eye in the blast but lived.

On a recent trip from Capetown, South Africa to Canada, Lapsley, who now heads the Institute for Healing of Memories, which “seeks to contribute to the healing journey of individuals, communities and nations”, spoke to a meeting of the national Anglican House of Bishops. A recent Anglican Journal edition quotes Lapsley on his struggle “from victim to survivor to victor,”: “Journeys of forgiveness are costly, painful and difficult. At the same time, they often involve grace. Journeys of forgiveness require generosity of spirit, and this to me, is what is often meant by grace.”

That same generosity of spirit certainly is not evident in the latest version of the National Defence Authorization Act signed by President Obama Dec. 31. Embedded in the act is a section on the ‘Authorization for Use of Military Force’. As Chris Hedges, author and war correspondent, wrote in his Truthdig column last Monday: “With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism.” Guilt by association can turn protestors into terrorists in Syria or concerned citizens into radical environmentalists here, as one federal minister would have us believe.

Hedges sees this as underpinned by fear which is “the psychological weapon of choice for totalitarian systems of power. Make the people afraid. Get them to surrender their rights in the name of national security. Enemies supposedly lurk in every organization that does not chant the patriotic mantras provided to it by the state. And this bill feeds a mounting state paranoia. It expands our permanent war to every spot on the globe. It erases fundamental constitutional liberties.”

We should never be afraid to speak out. We may risk being labeled as guilty by association with proponents of uncomfortable causes but I certainly don’t mind being associated however briefly with the likes of Michael Lapsley.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

Local poet Joanna Lilley is photographed at the Beringia Centre in Whitehorse on Jan. 20, where she will be hosting a poetry workshop on Jan. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Poetry for the ages

Workshop set for the Yukon Beringia Centre

President Joe Biden signs executive orders after speaking about the coronavirus, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris in the State Dinning Room of the White House on Jan. 21, in Washington, D.C. The administration announced plans Jan. 20 for a temporary moratorium on oil and gas leasing in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after the Trump administration issued leases in a part of the refuge considered sacred by the Gwich’in. (Alex Brandon/AP)
U.S. President Joe Biden halts oil and gas lease sales in ANWR

“Its great to have an ally in the White House”

asdf
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Jan. 22, 2021

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Most Read