Daily Archives: April 10, 2010

Gideon Rachman

The radio headline this morning that the president of Poland had been killed in a plane crash was shocking enough. It was doubly chilling to hear that it had happened over Russia. But almost nobody is suggesting foul play. It simply seems that the pilot of President Kaczynski’s plance tried to land (several times) in desperately dangerous circumstances, with tragic results.

Still, there is a horrible irony in the fact that so many members of the Polish governing elite, in particular, the armed forces, were killed en route to a commemoration service for the Katyn massacre of 1940, in which over 20,000 members of the Polish armed forces, as well as leading intellectuals and civil servants, were killed – probably on the direct orders of Stalin. Read more

Gideon Rachman

As one South African bogeyman is buried, another is born. The funeral of Eugene Terre’Blanche, the white supremacist, took place yesterday against the background of growing controversy about the views and future role of Julius Malema, the leader of the ruling ANC’s Youth Wing.

In some people’s minds, there is a direct connection between the two events, since the rather unyouthful looking Malema has become a rabble-rouser, indulging in open race-baiting of the sort that the ANC leaders have scrupulously avoided since the end of apartheid. Malema has even been indirectly blamed for Terre’Blanche’s death, since he has taken to singing the revolutionary ditty – “Kill the Boer” in public. This has been denounced as grossly irresponsible – although, on the face of it, is not obviously worse than President Jacob Zuma’s fondness for the song, “Bring me my machine gun.”

Terre’Blanche was an appalling man – part buffoon, part racist thug. But his death has crystallised the fears of rural Afrikaners, and focussed attention on the fact that 3,000 white farmers have been killed in a rural crime wave. Read more