Open Letter to F.W. de Clerk


Dear Freddy,

We read your recent letter, begging Oxford to retain the Rhodes statue. We thought it was cute: apartheid’s last president defending one of its architects. It was retro, like the Force Awakens, but with white supremacy. No wonder just two years ago you said you condemned apartheid ‘only in a qualified way’.

Freddy, Freddy, Freddy, we think you should be ashamed of yourself. In a qualified way, of course. For starters, it’s hilarious that you think the National Party – one of the most evil institutions of the 20th century – is a model for how to deal with colonial symbols. What’s next, the FW de Klerk School for Black Consciousness? And as for playing the victims of colonial oppression off against each other by whitewashing history, that was very slick, Freddy. Don’t get it twisted: the only reason you didn’t remove statues of Rhodes in South Africa was because you were committed to white domination, not because you cared about black people.

Freddy, we know why you wrote to a British newspaper: no one in South Africa takes you seriously anymore. We have a theory: the more your bald patch grows, the more your moral conscience recedes. You’re nearly out of hair, Freddy. In a qualified way.

You and Tony Abbott should get coffee sometime. It would be like the apartheid apologists’ Olympics. You two soldiers for racial justice are really onto something by lecturing black students, who are cleaning up your mess, about how ‘misguided’ they are.

Freddy, thank you. Thank you for exhibiting white arrogance in a way that we could never have done ourselves. Your letter, begging for the Rhodes to stay, says everything about why he needs to fall. Good luck in your retirement as the man who ‘freed’ Mandela. And enjoy all the speaking fees from your self-indulgent ‘I ended apartheid’ tours. We’ll send you a postcard once Rhodes has fallen.

All our love,

Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford