I should start this article by pointing out that I have never voted for the DA nor do I plan to do so in the foreseeable future. The notion that I would one day defend Helen Zille was foreign to me until I dissected the recent storm.
There seem to be general consensus that Helen Zille was completely wrong with her recent “colonialist tweet”. The prevailing argument is that nothing good can possibly come from something as evil as colonialism, and any attempt to connect good to something this evil is inherently aimed at excusing or even vindicating a terrible and cruel act.
Please allow me to present an alternative narrative in the form of the following two examples.
A woman is violently raped and a child is born as a result of this rape. We can all agree that nothing about the rape is good and no person can in any way excuse the criminal or his deeds. The scars on and in the victim is deep and may never heal.
Yet the child is not bad simply because it is a result of a rape. The baby can be nurtured and treated as good despite the situation that gave rise to it. If not for the rape, there would be no child. Just imagine the outcry if someone were to condemn the child simply because it is the result of something terrible. There is no link between the terrible act and the outcome of the act.
I cannot think of anything worse in the history of the modern world than the holocaust. What happened to the Jews during the war is beyond reprehensible and should never be repeated in human history. In many countries it is illegal to even question the amount of Jews murdered in the gas chambers and in the death camps, and quite rightly so.
Yet, this war and the holocaust was direct contributors to the establishment of the Jewish State. If not for this terrible history, there would be no state the Jews can call their own. Most Jews, if not all, will argue that this is in itself a good thing, even if it came from something unspeakable.
I conclude that the value of consequences can be judged independently from the acts that gave rise to them.
I therefore hold that Helen Zille was totally correct with her tweet and was in no way offensive. She did not defend colonialism, she pointed out that the legacy of colonialism, as with the baby and Jewish state above, may contain good elements. Any attempt to reprimand her is therefore politically motivated.