Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 15. 1972
"An Affront to Human Dignity"
"An Affront [unclear: to] Human Dignity"
Peter Hein, I'd first like to ask you of all why you are against sporting contact with South Africa?
In the first instance because the tours by racialist white South African sporting teams represent an affront to human dignity and represent an outrage as far as any kind of reasonable sporting relationships are concerned. That's the first point to get clear. Secondly, and perhaps more important from a campaigning point of view, white South Africa sees her international sporting contacts, particularly in Britain, Australia and New Zealand in terms of giving her compensation for her exclusion from the rest of the world in cultural, economic and political spheres Sports participation, on equal terms with a world which rejects her, at least theoretically in other fields, is very much desired and very much craved for by White South Africans as a whole. And one's got to realise that sport is very much a national religion in South Africa to the extent which would make the average All Black fan look like a novice, and I do realise the implications of that statement.
Sport is very much in terms of what one intellectual Afrikaaner discribed in terms of vindicating apartheid, in term of projecting white supremacy. One can see very the use of sport as a Aryan supremacy. So you have that together with years of bridge building with white South Africa and I stress white South Africa because we have never played South Africa at sport. We have never had cultural link South Africa. We have never had trade or political links with South Africa. Our only contact is with the white minority. Years of bridge building with white South Africa have produced absolutely nothing whatsoever in terms of positive change for the better. In fact the reverse has occured. We have seen, during these wonderful years of bridge-building, the situation steadily worsening, become more racialist, the whole system tightening up. It's only in the last decade and more particularly in the last few years, when the campaign against racialist sport in South Africa has gathered momentum, that we have seen quite unprecedented changes. And that, I think, is the major argument for the advocates of cutting off links with white South Africa. Not merely that it is the correct thing to do in theory, to reject racialism, to refuse to compromise with racialism, but also because, in practice, cutting off links is the only thing which has been seen to produce the results which we are at last beginning to see emerge in a very tentative fashion inside South Africa at the moment.
Those in New Zealand who are in favour of sporting contact with South Africa bring up a series of propositions and ask us to consider those propositions, and I imagine they are propositions which must have been brought up here in Britain during the Stop the Seventy Tour Movement by those who are in favour of the Rugby Tour, and by those who are in favour of the Cricket Tour. The general scenario runs something like this, and the first point that is generally made is 'That it's all very well to say 'Boycott South Africa' but why don't you boycott Russia as well. Russia has policies which presumably you and I would disagree with. If you disagree with South Africa's policies you boycott its sports schemes. If you disagree with Russia's policies why don't you boycott it's sports teams as well?".
This is a very common charge and it is one which we ought to be very clear in our answer to. First of all white South Africa is in a unique position as far as sport is concerned throughout the world. She is the only country which introduces discrimination, racialism, into her sports system. Russia doesn't. Any of the other totalitarian states which we could mention, whether those are in Eastern Europe or whether those are in Portugal, Spain, Greece or whatever, do lot introduce political discrimination or racial discrimination into the very heart of their sports system. South Africa is the only country which does this. South Africa is the only country which allows her politics to intrude directly into her sports system, that makes her sports system a direct tool of her whole social and political system. I think its very clear that we establish that point first. If we decided that, because we objected to a country's politics, that we simply took a stand against her sports teams, then we would be in a position of being able to play very few people at international sport. I think that this is a point that is too often ignored, that what we have got to object to in taking the political fight into the sporting sphere, is not simply that we abhor the political systems which that sports team might represent, of which there are many in the world, but that completely reject the reflection in that sports teams of the political structure from the country which it is representing. I think, too, that we have got to make the point that white South Africa openly and quite clearly uses her sports teams to project her racialism. And that no other country does this. It's for all these reasons that the charge about why don't you boycott Russian teams?' is simply a red-herring, that the charge about 'why don't you boycott every other team?' serves equally only to confuse the issue and I come back to the point that those articulate exponents of this view, that we should boycott Russian teams for example, are the very people who apologise for apartheid in sport; who apologise for sporting tours. And I get very suspicious about the kind of areas that this charge comes from.
"[if] you disagree with non-violent direct action that should not stop you from working together with us in trying to stop the tour because what we ought to do is provide the opportunity to everyone to express his opposition in whatever way he feels fit and able"
One of the most enduring defences of sporting contacts with South Africa which we have in New Zealand is the cry that sport and politics should'nt mix. And I know from my reading of the campaign in Britain that this was indeed a cry that was heard in Britain quite frequently. What do you say to those people who cry sport and politics shouldn't mix? Do you feel they shouldn't mix or do you feel that perhaps, as we would claim in New Zealand, they shouldn't mix but that in the world today it is impossible to separate them?
I think it is impossible in the first instance to separate any form of human activity from the Political system that it springs from. But that is a general point. Specifically, on this point, I would like to see the situation where sport and politics did not mix. I would like to see the situation, for example in South Africa, where her racialist politics did not mix in her sport, and this is the critical thing because South Africa has brought politics into sport. She has introduced racialism She has introduced political discrimination. She has introduced inferior facilities and opportunities for her non white sportmen heart of her sports structure. She in that has brought politics into sport. And I think, if anything, we are trying take politics out of sport. We are saying "Remove the political discrimination, remove the racilism from your sports system and then we will be more than happy to have free and easy interplay of sporting tours between South Africa as a whole, on the basis of sports teams selected on the basis of merit and not on race." So I think that the charge of bringing politics into sport merely represents a failure to advance any other articulate argument against our case. When one looks at it it is quite clear that it is the white supremicists in South Africa who have politicised their sports system and what we're trying to do is to strip it of its discriminatory characteristics, to get the situation where all South Africans, black, white, coloured or indifferent, can play together in the sports stadiums, in the swimming baths, on the fields, and in the squash courts of their country on an equal basis, on a non-political basis, in that sense.
We select our teams our way, and the South Africans select their teams their way. Despite everything you have said, do you really feel that we have the right to tell another separate sovereign state how they should select their teams?
First of all, we're not telling another separate sovereign state how to select its teams. We're telling the white minority there that it cannot contrive to maintain its position in international sport and also bring racialism into the sports arena of the world. So I think it's very clear that we are directing our charges not at South Africa, but at white South Africa. And when we look too, at the fact that black South Africans have repeatedly demanded such action from international opinion, have repeatedly called for a sports boycott, then I think that the case becomes unanswerable. We have got to ask ourselves regardless of questions allegedly infringing on sovereignty of other states, are we prepared to continue to tolerate racialism in international sport? Can we live with our consciences in appeasing racialism in international sport? Can we indeed live without consciences in effectively condoning and appeasing apartheid? The terms are not disconnected in South Africa. They are intricately bound up in the projection of those sporting tours. And I think the answer to all these questions must be... We have got to take a stand. We have got to say that we are determinad to stop compromising with apartheid, to stop compromising with racialism in sport.
After all this has been said and done the defenders of sporting contact with South Africa generally came out with their final cry and that is "Have you been there, do you really know what it is like? Peter Hain, Have you been to South Africa?
Yes I lived most of my life there. My parents were both active in the opposition to apartheid as members of the non-racial Liberal party of South Africa. They were both barred for completely non-violent, legal activities. My mother and father were both imprisoned for 12 days without trial, never charged, never told why. They suffered repeated intimidation. They know what apartheid is all about. I know what apartheid is all about, having lived there between 1951 (I was in fact born in Kenya) and 1966, and my experiences of apartheid and my experiences of apartheid in sport, because I am a keen sports fan and I followed the racialist sports system in South Africa, experiences of all of this have led me to the belief that unless the world takes a positive, a committed, and an uncompromising stand against apartheid, then we will find the virus of racialism emerging elsewhere, and we will be seen to be compromising with racialism as a whole. I have felt the burden of apartheid, and I have seen the tyranny of apartheid in action, and I think that anybody who has seen it will support us in our stand.
"..... / have seen the tyranny of apartheid in action"
You speak very strongly against sporting contacts with the white minority regime in South Africa, but under what conditions are you prepared to accept sporting contacts with South Africa? Would you say that there must be no sporting contact with South Africa until the complete apartheid system in South Africa is overthrown, and are you prepared to accept, for example, sporting contact with the non-racial sporting bodies in South Africa, sporting bodies which by their very nature and very constitution are in themselves fighting against institutionalised apartheid in that country? With regard to sporting contacts with South Africa what are you prepared to accept?
First of all I think it is important to retrace the fact that it is only through a policy of isolating white South Africa from international sport that we have won any concessions. It is only, tor example, since the cancellation of the 1970 cricket tour to England that we got Springbok cricketers coming out for the first time, followed very quickly by their Sport's Officials, calling for non-racials or some kind of tentative moves towards integration in sport. So it is important to grasp very surely that it is only through positiva moves that changes have been brought about. I Having made that point, I would only be willing to stop campaigning for isolation if South Africa started practising her internal sport on a non-violent basis. If she started sending tours overseas on a non-racial basis, and no compromises can be won or can be conceded in the pursuit of that objective. What I mean by that statement is this, we are not prepared to accept one or two uncle Toms to give it a gloss of non-racialisn when in fact that would be an attempt to [unclear: appear] world opinion, because the realities of sports apartheid will remain very definitely for black South African sportsmen inside South Africa. We are only prepared to accept non-racial teams But we are prepared to accept teams from the non-racial sports bodies in South Africa. I think that flows logically from the argument. That means, those bodies who have set themselves up on a non-racial basis, who have non-racial constitutions such as the South African Cricket Board of Control, who want to practise non-racialism in sport, but because whites refuse to join then they are reduced to the situation where they can only have non-racialism within the nonwhite community, that is between Africans, Asians, and Coloureds. And so I would like to see links set up with those organisations. But we return to the situation which we are likely to face, and towards your question about whether we will see true non-racialism in sport before apartheid is broken down. I think it is ver difficult if not impossible to visualise the situation where we could have true non-racialism in sport. That doesn't just apply to the composition of teams. It means inopportunities, [unclear: facilities] throughout education etc. I don't believe we could get true, thriving non-racialism in sport until we had the complete downfall of apartheid but I would be the first to argue that we ought to welcome, and accommodate any genuine moves towards that goal. I think the most positive thing we can aim for is to give international sports opportunities to the non-racial albeit no white, sports bodies that exist there at the moment.
".... it is important to realise that NZ [unclear: rema] the last major battleground on which the paign for non-racialism and against [unclear: aparth] in sport has to be fought"
In the context of the Stop the Tour movement in Britain in 1969-70, what was "non-violent disruption?".
Non-violent action and disruption meant running on, climbing over the fence and sitting down without actually helping arrest either. When it came to being dragged off the field we just went in dead weight fashion on them. That really is the main tactic that was used. It meant those who were not willing or able to go onto I the field, keeping up a constant barrage of chant ensuring that the atmosphere deteriorated completely at the match. It was very evident that I even those die-hard rugby supporters during the Springboks tour here 1969-70 had only one eye on the game and the other on the demonstrators and for them the match was not the normal sporting spectacle to which they were accustom Nonviolent direct action also meant maintaining a constant presence at the teams hotels, at their coach journeys, at their functions, dogging their every movement, showing them that they were not welcome in our country, as I hope you will show them they're not welcome in New Zealand It meant in short covering every area of their activity. We began with the simple strategy of direct action at the fields themselves. This is the point around which the success of the campaign will hinge, if we are effective in stopping the matches. But as it became gradually more difficult, as it got to the stage where there was an endless army of blue uniforms between us and the ground, then we turned on a move-committed fashion to investigating methods of non-violently harassing them at their hotels and wherever they went. That, I think, is what non-violent direct action means. It doesn't mean openly attacking the players. It doesn't mean using one of the many classic forms of non-violent almost Ghandian-type, civil disobedience [unclear: tactics.]
I think people generally, with the exception of the extreme right, would be prepared to accept that you have the right to say that the Springboks should not come but they would then say [unclear: given] this. page 9 You do not have the right to [unclear: ge] upon the liberties of people who want [unclear: atch] a game of rugby. People will say you [unclear: concerned] about the lot of non-whites in [unclear: h] Africa. You are concerned that a minor [unclear: an] dictate to a majority. Why than don't [unclear: consistently] follow that through and let the [unclear: of] the majority prevail in say Britain or [unclear: Zeeland,] given that the majority in New [unclear: nd] at the present tima support the Sprin[unclear: tour] as is claimed. What right do you have [unclear: disrupt] a match that you stop people [unclear: go] the match, something which they [unclear: con] is their perfect democratic right.
[unclear: let] me say that I was identified very [unclear: strong th] non-violent direct action tactics and [unclear: in] ways the movement and I personally [unclear: ered] those tactics on this issue. I don't [unclear: ver] think that it is an easy argument and [unclear: I] that everyone discussing it would do [unclear: well] consider the whole question seriously [unclear: and] undogmatic basis. Secondly every[unclear: is] happy about protest unless its successful, [unclear: then] they get worried and upset. And you [unclear: all] the usual cries which we heard with such [unclear: tonous] regularity in England and Australia [unclear: t] long-haired wierdo's infringing on [unclear: the] of others to switch their rugby matches [unclear: ll] the rest. The [unclear: question] have to [unclear: nd] these of you who are worried [unclear: about] [unclear: nplications] of [unclear: directaction] have got [unclear: swer], is what alternative is there? What [unclear: alter] was there for is in 1969-70 and what alternative is there for you 1973 to take further [unclear: compaign] but to extend decade, years of [unclear: ing], of peaceful petitioning, of letter, of [unclear: ations] all of which have fallen on deaf ears one of which have met with any positive [unclear: nse] at all - from either the rugby [unclear: authori] the world and in particular in Britain, [unclear: alia] and New Zealand. It was only [unclear: wha] to take positive action that they had [unclear: up] and take notice. It was only when we positive action that the Cricket authorities [unclear: tain,] and later Australia took a positive [unclear: against] racialism in sport. Really we have [unclear: w] the justification for direct action against [unclear: tremendous] history, this backlog of [unclear: constinal] lobbying, of polite protest, of peaceful [unclear: oning,] which met with absolutely no [unclear: res] And you cannot continue this for ever, [unclear: cannot] remain impotent forever faced with [unclear: ind] of reactionary and mostly. I'm afraid, [unclear: tted] attitudes which seem to characterize [unclear: redominant] themes of sports attitudes in [unclear: international] sporting world. The whole [unclear: question as] to be viewed against that background.
".... we must commit ourselves to militant [unclear: non-violent] action...."
[unclear: k] then we've got to say, having accepted [unclear: there] is very little alternative open to us, [unclear: t] is absolutely essential to take a stand [unclear: st] racialism, that it is absolutely essential [unclear: ce] a stand against apartheid and therefore [unclear: heid] in sport. And therefore we must be red to go the full hog and to commit [unclear: our-] to militant non-violent action in order to [unclear: ve] those aims. We have seen in Britain and [unclear: stralia] how that action has met with [unclear: phenal] success. Again this is something I would [unclear: back] to those who are concerned about direction tactics. We have achieved this [unclear: tremen-] success. I'm not saying the ends justify [unclear: beans] but I am saying that we had no [unclear: alter]e. Nobody commits himself to making the [unclear: endous] sacrifices which are needed in a [unclear: cam-] [unclear: endous] of this nature - to risking arrest, to risking beaten up by rugby thugs or whoever [unclear: hap-] to wish to attack us. Nobody does this kind [unclear: ing] without a deep moral commitment. It [unclear: is] an expression of that deep moral [unclear: commnt]. That I think is essential and is why direction is justified.
[unclear: said] earlier that those who disagree with [unclear: violent] disruption should ask themselves other methods there are of stopping [unclear: these] There are a group of people in New [unclear: Zea] I don't know whether you experienced [unclear: ame] thing in Britain or not - who argue that [unclear: correct] way of opposing sporting contact [unclear: is] South Africa is to build a series of mass [unclear: lisations]. And its only by this method-by [unclear: ng] a lot of people on to the streets on a [unclear: fic] day and by indicating to the government [unclear: he] Rugby Football Union in this way show [unclear: you] have widespread support-that you will [unclear: lly] be able to bring about an end to sport-contact with South Africa. Given that the situation in New Zealand is similar to that in Britain, in regard to the balance of forces, how do you feel about this? Did you feel, for example, that a policy of building mass mobilisations against the tour in Britain in 1969-70 would have resulted in the cancellation of the cricket tour?
I would like to clarify what we mean by mass mobilisations and how this expressed itself in Britain in 1969-70. There were those groups who felt that by organising a mass demonstration out side a ground or in some city 8rea or some similar area and by confronting the police, who were all too ready to respond to such a policy of confrontation, they were able somehow to expose the violent nature of the state and, therefore, in some weird and wonderful way actually getting around to stopping the tour. In fact the paucity of the strategy was demonstrated quite clearly as the campaign progressed in Britain, when there was less and less support for it when it was shown up to be a sterile and completely irrelevant form of action in terms of actually stopping the 1970 cricket tour, which we achieved, and we achieved using the main strategy of non-violent direct action. So the first area of opinion believes in mass mobilisation as being a means of convincing the authorities that you are stronger. There is then a second argument and second area which I think merits much more consideration much deeper thought by all of us involved in the campaign. I think that what is very important in a campaign of this nature and why we were so successful during the 1970 campaign was because we gave attention to this, is that we should, even if we are not unified in our approach to strategy and our approach to tactics, maintain the unity of our opposition to the tour. That is the thing which holds us together, that is the thing for which we are campaigning and that is the aim which we are pursuing, and, therefore, I think that everyone who is opposed to the tour ought to work together, in however loose a form, however vague the co-operation is. It should be there, and the unity of the opposition to the tour should be maintained. We got to the situation where we had what I would regard as three main groups working in opposition to the tour. We had the militant 1970 Stop The Tour Movement of which I was chairman. We had the more conventional symbolic demonstrations largely organised by the anti-apartheid movement of Britain, and with considerable support throughout the country. And we had the constitutional lobbying of David Sheppard and the Fair Cricket Campaign, and the 'establishment' support that it mustered. These groups, while pursuing diverse and divergent strategies managed to co-operate in a very effective way. I think that it is important to do that and having argued for close co-operation and against any kind of factionalism in the movement, which really will be the death of any coherent opposition to any tours of this nature in which really will be the death of any coherent opposition to any tours of this nature in which the 'left' and those concerned with the morality in politics always seem to degenerate to in these situations, but which we avoided in Britain and Australia, I would still say that people take my basic argument, which is that in the final analysis what will be the dominating force in the stopping of the '73 tour as it was in Britain and Australia, is non-violent direct action, and that any other action must be seen in terms of providing an extra force, and extra depth, and an extra perspective to that direct action. The final point is that I can see and I can understand the view of those that feel in all conscience they cannot try to get onto that rugby field and sit down. I would merely say that while you disagree with non-violent direct action that should not stop you from working together with us in trying to stop the tour, because what we ought to do is to provide the opportunity to everyone to express his opposition in whatever way he feels fit and able.
"South Africa is the only country which allows her politics to intrude directly into her sports system".
"Sport is very much a national religion in South Africa to an extent which would make the average All Black fan look like a novice."
"..... everyone is happy about protest unless it is successful..."
There is one point which I would like to comment on because I feel it is of particular value and that is, it's been said in New Zealand that non-violent direct action is a self defeating tactic in so far that it puts people's backs up, it causes them not to respond to the issue of racialism in sport, but to the tactics of non-violent disruption, and that in this climate, in this atmosphere you have got slightly more or slightly less than no chance of changing anyone's mind. Did you find in Britain, for example that your campaign to Stop the '70 Tour movement with its emphasis very much on non-violent direct action that people were continually responding, not to racialism in sport, but simply to your tactics. Did you feel that the policy you adopted, although it had the effect of stopping the tour, also, had the effect of stopping people thinking about racialism in sport.
Certainly much of the debate around the tour did revolve on and around the tactics of direct action and whether or not they were justified. But, really, looking back on the campaign and this I think was reflected too in Australia, I am amazed at the amount of support we got for our strategy. I am amazed at the fact that we did not alienate more people, because although you have charged that you, at the present time, do not have a majority backing, we had exactly this charge levelled at us early on in the campaign. Yet by the end of the campaign, the Guardian newspaper showed in a very accurate social science poll, that 60% supported the cancellation. And we had this massive swing towards us, as the action was escalating, as the tension was mounting. You will recall that the cricket tour was only called off 2 weeks before it was due to arrive, and as this tension was mounting, we were finding more and more people swinging to our position. More and more people were discussing the issue, more and more people, in short were forced to discuss the issue and this I think is something which should not be underestimated What direct action does, is that it presents people in a very clear and in a very forceful fashion with having to take sides, with having to confront their own consciences on this question, because they are left with no alternative but to, because the action is being taken not of a symbolic nature which they can ignore and we got thrown up around the campaign an enormous amount of education, an enormous number of television programmes, for example, documentaries on South Africa which had never appeared in such quantity before, we got thrown up by the interest and the new imaginations sparked off by the direct action strategy, a whole new consciousness on apartheid. It was out of that consciousness that I think our support sprang. I'm not saying, indeed, that we did not alienate some people through those tactics. I'm not saying, indeed, that we did not alienate some who might have sprung to our side had we not mounted that strategy. What I would say is that there were some individuals and some sections of society which it seems impossible to communicate with, and frankly that is an occupational hazard, for those of us involved in this kind of campaign and it doesn't worry me particularly much, because although I would like to convince a 100% of mankind, we don't have the time at this stage to do that while the situation is deteriorating in South Africa and so having, in a sense, written off a section of society, I think we have to come back to those who might be dissuaded from joining us beacuse of the direct action tactics, and really the question we have got to level at them is this are you views on aparthied and racialism so weak and so watery that you might be put off opposing the tour, simply because you so not agree with the strategy and the tactics that the main movement in opposition is using? I think it that charge is put on a very committed and determined basis to people then they will see that our case is justified and will see that the opposition to the tour is is justified. But really I can go not merely on instinct but on the actual physical experience we had in Britain and that is, far from alienating people, it alienated some admittedly, but far from alienating the mass of people, we actually got a perceptible and quite definite swing toward us, and the whole enthusiasm thrown up by the strategy and the belief, which was quite justified, that we could actually achieve something positive, rare indeed for those of concerned with the morality in politics, achieve something positive through this campaign throughout the whole new area of opinion which responded and which rallied to our core and I think you will find this in New Zealand because this seems to me the logical outcome of the kind of mass campaign which you are embarking upon.
"......we are not prepared to accept one or two Uncle Toms..."
Finally Peter Hain, turning to the 1973 tour itself. How do you see the significance of the tour? You were involved very intimately in the 1969-70 campaign against the rugby tour, against the cricket tour. You were involved in a less intimate, but nonetheless significant way in the Australian campaign. Looking at the 1973 rugby tour of New Zealand, what significance do you attach to that in terms of whether or not it is cancelled?
I think it is of absolutely crucial importance and that your success will be of absolutely crucial importance as well, because we have seen since the cancellation of the '70 tour and of course spurred on by the Australian victory, a tremendous confusion set in, in in white South African sport and unprecedented moves towards desegregating and weakening the discrimination within the sport. A lot of them are very dubious moves, and they do not spring from any great principled reasons, but rather expedient reasons, but nevertheless they are there and they're beginning to flower. But what we are also seeing, and this is very worrying, is an attempt by white South Africa to get through the backdoor of international sport now that she has been very largly thrown out. And if the tour goes through in New Zealand although I really believe that you are going to stop it, but if it goes through then you are going to be faced with a situation where White South Africa could well see it as a signal for a renewed attempt to get back into international sport. The second major point is this, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, the White Commonwealth Club, have been the strongest allies of apartheid in international sport. It is Britain, Australian and New Zealand who consistently vote for racialism when the issue comes up of South Africa's participation in the international sport organisation. When we realise that the major break through has been made in Britain and this has been followed up the signification of the New Zealand campaign campaign because if we conquer New Zealand and if nonracialism is asserted in its national sport, in New Zealand then we really have achieved a 3 point victory over the 'White Commonwealth Club'. So, I think that it is important to realise that New Zealand remains the last major battleground on which the campaign for non-racialism and against apartheid in sport has to be fought. For all these reasons I think that those of you campaigning in New Zealand will be doing so knowing that you are playing an absolutely vital role in maintaining the campaign momentum against apartheid in sport developed over the last few years, in ensuring that apartheid is removed from international sport finally and forever, and in telling white South Africans quite uncompromisingly that they had better change their sporting system, had better organise it on a non-racialist basis, open to all regardless of colour, or they're not going to be allowed back in. I think as a signpost for the future success of the international campaign. New Zealand will be very important and that is why those of us in Britain and elsewhere will be watching your campaign with great interest.