There are certain people in this world off-limits to criticism, because they’re icons of the international Left, which has often scraped the bottom of the PR barrel raising them to saint-like status. Gandhi and Che Guevara were two and another who readily springs to mind is Desmond Tutu.
I won’t decry the first pair – others have done that before me (recommended reading: Arthur Koestler’s expose of the Machiavellian mahatma in his book, The Yogi and the Commissar) – but I’m happy to join the growing clamour of critics, who allege the former archbishop of Cape Town is an outrageous hypocrite.
It’s easy to be entranced by the smiley, giggly, wide-eyed little chatterbox and his reputation as an outspoken crusader for human rights, not least as a champion of South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement.
But let me borrow the words of Tutu’s fellow CofE clergyman, the Rev Dr Peter Mullen, former Rector of St. Michael, Cornhill and St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, in the City of London, who asks:-
What, for instance, was his [Tutu’s] part in the anti-apartheid struggle? He opposed Ronald Reagan’s policy of ‘constructive engagement’ with the Pretoria government and advocated that all nations should refuse to invest in South Africa. He knew that the direst consequences of this would fall on the black poor. He said at the time that this would be ‘suffering with a purpose’ – for them, of course, not for him.
A long time ago, there were people courageous enough to criticise Tutu. He was castigated for ‘selective indignation’ because of his passive attitude to the coup regime in Lesotho (1970-86). He had been a teacher there and later a bishop. But he made a run for it when civil war broke out: a decision to be contrasted with that of the Lesotho Evangelical Church leaders who stayed at their posts. Many were murdered for their courage and for sticking to their principles.
Tutu is also a trenchant flag-waver for Hamas, the terrorist lynch mob controlling Gaza with the iron first of Islamic extremism, who throw members of the opposition Fatah movement off tall buildings for fun, use kids as human shields, subjugate women to the level of pack animals, want to execute homosexuals and, naturally, are hell-bent on murdering all Jews, whether they reside in Israel or not.
The retired archbishop’s dear wish is to walk in a march on Jerusalem, travelling in the same footsteps Ahmad Abo Halabiya, one of Hamas’s thugs-in-chief, who recently railed in a sermon broadcast live on Palestinian TV, ‘Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them…and those Americans who are like them, and those who stand by them.’
Any hint of approbation from the venerable, old cleric over this viciously anti-Semitic rant? Not a tut – or even a tutu, you might say.
That, though, is understandable given that Tutu never misses an opportunity to slag off the Middle East’s only fully-functioning democracy, comparing it with apartheid-era South Africa and memorably stating once that Zionism had ‘very many parallels with racism’.
Maybe Tutu ought to widen his big eyes a little wider and have a confab with Ghaleb Majadlah, an Arab-Israeli government minister. Or Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab-Israeli journalist, who once reminded him, ‘Arab citizens can go to the same beaches, restaurants and shopping malls as Jews in this ‘apartheid’ state.’
Tutu might also like to have a gander at the fate of his fellow Christians being persecuted in many Muslim countries and the brutal handiwork of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe.
But the saintly, little Nobel Laureate seems to see only what he chooses.
Last week, however, Tutu’s headline-grabbing hyperbole reached new heights when he refused to attend an international leadership summit in Johannesburg with Tony Blair, because, as his office said, ‘Mr. Blair’s decision to support the United States’ military invasion of Iraq…was morally indefensible…it would be inappropriate and untenable for the Archbishop to share a platform with Mr. Blair.’
Funny, I can’t remember His Grace murmuring much about Saddam Hussein murdering millions – many of them Iraqis – or invading Kuwait and causing mayhem in a region akin to a tinderbox.
Moreover, the statement from his office appears to contradict a patronizing lecture he gave the Israelis some years ago, when he visited the Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem and said blithely, ‘Our Lord would say that in the end the positive thing that can come [from the Holocaust] is the spirit of forgiving.’
Clearly his ‘forgiveness’ doesn’t extend to Tony Blair, a fellow Christian.
However, like the rest of the bleeding-heart Left who idolise him, the holy, smiley cleric maybe not be all he appears and Blair’s a lucky man to have escaped sharing a platform with an archbishop who, in the opinion of a growing number, is an arch-hypocrite.