Archbishop Desmond Tutu Was Not a Saint

 

Many people have sung the praises over the last few days for Desmond Tutu, who passed away at the age of 90. As CNN described him:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Anglican cleric whose good humor, inspiring message and conscientious work for civil and human rights made him a revered leader during the struggle to end apartheid in his native South Africa, has died. He was 90. In a statement confirming his death on Sunday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his condolences to Tutu’s family and friends, calling him ‘a patriot without equal.’ ‘A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world,’ Ramaphosa said.

He received many awards and commendations for his efforts in South Africa and around the world. But he also had a distinction that is not praiseworthy: Tutu was also a blatant anti-Semite.

Desmond Tutu is one of many people whose reputation was tainted by his anti-Semitism, although that information has been largely ignored. Alan Dershowitz wrote a recent article that described the virulence Tutu had not only for Israel, but for the Jewish people themselves. Here are some of the anti-Semitic accusations that Tutu made:

He was among the world’s most respected figures. His recognizable face—with its ever-present grin—has become a symbol of reconciliation and goodness. But it masks a long history of ugly hatred toward the Jewish people, the Jewish religion and the Jewish state. He not only believed in anti-Semitism, he actively promoted and legitimated Jew-hatred among his many followers and admirers around the world.

Tutu was no mere anti-Zionist (though Martin Luther King long ago recognized that anti- Zionism often serves as a cover for deeper anti-Jewish bigotry). He has minimized the suffering of those killed in the Holocaust. He has attacked the ‘Jewish’ – not Israeli – ‘lobby’ as too ‘powerful’ and ‘scary.’ He has invoked classic anti-Semitic stereotypes and tropes about Jewish ‘arrogance’ ‘power’ and ‘money.’ He has characterized Jews a ‘peculiar people,’ and has accused ‘the Jews’ of causing many of the world’s problems. He once even accused the Jewish state of acting in an ‘unChristian’ manner.

Tutu’s attacks did not end there:

He accused the Jews of Israel of doing ‘things that even Apartheid South Africa had not done.’ He said that ‘the Jews thought they had a monopoly of God: Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.’ He said that Jews have been ‘fighting against’ and being ‘opposed to’ his God. He has ‘compared the features of the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the features of the apartheid system in South Africa.’ He complained that ‘the Jewish people with their traditions, religion and long history of persecution sometimes appear to have caused a refugee problem among others.” He implied that Israel might someday consider as an option ‘to perpetrate genocide and exterminate all Palestinians.’

I am not trying to persuade anyone that you should hate or reject Desmond Tutu. But to accept the laundered picture of him without being knowledgeable about the broader scope of his life is disingenuous. Many people have words and actions which they regret and apologize for when they become public; Tutu had no such inclination. When he was accused of being anti-Semitic, this was his response: “Tough luck,” and, “my dentist’s name is Dr. Cohen.”

I will leave it to each person who now has this broader understanding of Desmond Tutu to decide what it means to you, if anything.

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  1. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Never was very impressed with him. I usually bit my tongue when others were praising him.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Never was very impressed with him. I usually bit my tongue when others were praising him.

    I only knew of him by reputation. Well, a limited description of his reputation. I wonder if some would call me a racist for calling him out?

    • #2
  3. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Never was very impressed with him. I usually bit my tongue when others were praising him.

    I only knew of him by reputation. Well, a limited description of his reputation. I wonder if some would call me a racist for calling him out?

    Probably, but anyone of a leftist persuasion automatically calls you a racist if you disagree with them.

    • #3
  4. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    @susanquinn, thank you for that information about Bishop Tutu. I only knew him as, unfortunately, a Marxist; but more importantly in my thinking, as a leader who brought stability and reconciliation instead of recrimination to South Africa.

    • #4
  5. JennaStocker Member
    JennaStocker
    @JennaStocker

    Great point, @susanquinn. Hero worship or praise has taken an interesting turn in recent years. Maybe Tutu gets somewhat of a pass being he just…passed, but it all seems to depend on what team claims ownership or vilification. The Founding Fathers, for the immeasurable goodness they bestowed on the world through freedom, are readily and constantly attacked in the most vicious ways because some were slaveowners, and are looking at the past through a modern prism. But someone like George Floyd, who has shrines and monuments built in his honor, despite being a common criminal. Here in Minnesota, there was a big to-do high-school basketball tournament named in his honor. The inaugural teams were between a North Minneapolis one and one from the Texas town where Floyd was from. All the local news outlets bestowed their highest praise on such an event.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, as always, Susan.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JennaStocker (View Comment):

    Great point, @ susanquinn. Hero worship or praise has taken an interesting turn in recent years. Maybe Tutu gets somewhat of a pass being he just…passed, but it all seems to depend on what team claims ownership or vilification. The Founding Fathers, for the immeasurable goodness they bestowed on the world through freedom, are readily and constantly attacked in the most vicious ways because some were slaveowners, and are looking at the past through a modern prism. But someone like George Floyd, who has shrines and monuments built in his honor, despite being a common criminal. Here in Minnesota, there was a big to-do high-school basketball tournament named in his honor. The inaugural teams were between a North Minneapolis one and one from the Texas town where Floyd was from. All the local news outlets bestowed their highest praise on such an event.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post, as always, Susan.

    I thought about my timing for this post, but I couldn’t figure out how much time should pass before I posted on him. Besides, I’m not sure, given his actions, that he had earned that consideration.

    The activities regarding George Floyd were deplorable. Given his history, it was difficult to believe. I can appreciate the good that Tutu did and still hold him accountable for his beliefs. But I have no interest in celebrating George Floyd for anything. 

    Thanks, Jenna.

    • #6
  7. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Mandela wasn’t worth praise either . . .

    • #7
  8. Mark Camp Member
    Mark Camp
    @MarkCamp

    Susan Quinn:

    I will leave it to each person who now has this broader understanding of Desmond Tutu to decide what it means to you, if anything.

    You have studied the question of whether he was anti-Semitic and know the context around each of these particulars, and much more.

    No doubt you are right.

    I had never heard of the claim till now. I’ll need to read the Dershowitz article to understand why he made the claims that he did.

    Based on the extracts themselves, I don’t see any evidence either way: that he was, or was not anti-Semitic. 

    For example, ‘my dentist is Jewish’ sounds as though it could have been a humorous satirical response to an unfounded accusation of anti-Semitism, as far as one can tell without more context.

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    On those particular comments, I understand your thinking. But I think there are several others that I think are clearly anti-Semitic. Especially the specific criticisms of Jews. Typical tropes. 

    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Stad (View Comment):

    Mandela wasn’t worth praise either . . .

    I think he was worthy of some praise.  There may have been some aspects of his life that biographers try to sanitize, but it’s worth something that he resisted calls for scorched-earth vengeance when others wanted exactly that.

    His wife, on the other hand…

    • #10
  11. Kevin Schulte Member
    Kevin Schulte
    @KevinSchulte

    The whole south African issue for me going way back.  Winnie and her “Necklaces” . 

    Two thumbs down on Tutu. 

    • #11
  12. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    This brings up a broader point.  Leftists have elevated Black people to an unimpeachable status.  Negros can never be seen as ever doing wrong.  News stories go to laughable contortions to conceal Black crimes and the racial identity of Black criminals.  It is so predictable that you can pretty much assume that if the racial identity of a criminal is not mentioned in a news article – then the perpetrator is almost assuredly Black or Arab.  The same way that if a criminal’s political affiliation is not mentioned – he is a Democrat. 

    It used to bemuse me that in the 1970’s and 80’s many Western and European countries boycotted South Africa for their racially discriminatory policies.  At the same time, Communist countries were murdering hundreds or thousands of times more people than the government of South Africa ever did, and few countries ever boycotted them.  Their athletes were freely allowed to participate in Olympic Games to show off communist propaganda, while South African athletes were barred.  It always struck me as a weakling’s “virtue signalling” against a benign foe that will never strike back at the boycotters, while being afraid to boycott the real bullies, who were China, Russia, East Germany, Romania, Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea, etc…

    • #12
  13. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Never was a fan.  Mainly because he was a fan of the ANC, which fit every definition of a terrorist organization I’ve ever read.  And which introduced blatantly racist land expropriation policies once in power.  Uncriticized by Tutu.

    He was peculiarly (or deliberately) blind to that evil.

    • #13
  14. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Once an individual is crowned by the media the only entity that can knock off that crown is…the media.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    It’s interesting that we have such a knowledgeable bunch here at Ricochet, who know the other questionable actions that Tutu was involved in. Your information helps clarify that this was not the most admirable man. 

    • #15
  16. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Israel’s ex-envoy to SA in JPost:

    “Tutu’s legacy is a South African one. Our issues in Israel are not even secondary to his legacy, and that’s an important thing for us to understand. His life wasn’t about Israel and Palestine, it was about democracy and human rights in South Africa,” said Lenk… “He wasn’t a friend of Israel, but that said, he was a man of great achievement, heroism and bravery. And anyone who celebrates democracy knows that he’s at the top of the list of people who should be honored, even if he didn’t see our issue the way we would have liked him to.”

     

    • #16
  17. Malkadavis Inactive
    Malkadavis
    @Malkadavis

    The Catholic church has sainted its share of anti-Semitic/anti-Jewish individuals–John Chrysostom, most notably. One of the “fathers” of the church, his sermons against the Jews laid the foundation for much of Christianity’s antipathy toward the Jewish people. It doesn’t stop Christians or Catholics from venerating him. So, why should we be surprised when clergy like Bishop Tutu say such anti-Jewish things? It’s kind of baked into the cake, starting with the New Testament.

    • #17
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I accept that people are flawed and I can celebrate the good they do and condemn the evil. 

    Hard to find heroes living up to Western ideals in a non-Western culture, and one that was a product of some of the worst aspects of Western colonialism laid on top of tribalism. 

    • #18
  19. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    This has “you bite the hand that feeds you” written all over it. South African Jews were at the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.  It was Jews who funded the NAACP in its early years and many rabbis marched with Martin Luther King. Yet black Americans, and especially their leaders, often harbor anti-Semitic views, from Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, and Al Sharpton, on down. Not to forget Obama, who sat in the pews of a church for many years where the pastor regularly spouted anti-Semitic rhetoric.

    • #19
  20. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I accept that people are flawed and I can celebrate the good they do and condemn the evil. 

    Right.  Few people are “good” or “bad”.  It’s rarely that simple.  Great men are often not good men – they often have great flaws.

    Tutu clearly did some very good things, under very difficult circumstances.  But the whole picture, as usual, is more complex than that…

    • #20
  21. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch
    Dr. Bastiat 

    @drbastiat

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):
    I accept that people are flawed and I can celebrate the good they do and condemn the evil.

    Right.  Few people are “good” or “bad”.  It’s rarely that simple.  Great men are often not good men – they often have great flaws.

    Tutu clearly did some very good things, under very difficult circumstances.  But the whole picture, as usual, is more complex than that…

    But as my father, may he rest in peace, once said, “You can tell the true character of a person by how they feel about Jews.”

    • #21
  22. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    Mandela wasn’t worth praise either . . .

    I think he was worthy of some praise. There may have been some aspects of his life that biographers try to sanitize, but it’s worth something that he resisted calls for scorched-earth vengeance when others wanted exactly that.

    His wife, on the other hand…

    Yossel Mashel Slovo aka Joe Slovo – a doctrinaire and committed Communist and ANC leader was the primary ideological driver behind the ANC’s moderation after winning the election of 1994. He stated very clearly for Mandela and the ANC that the collapse of the Soviet Union destroyed the bi-polar world they needed to survive as a Communist dictatorship. Socialist/Communist Single party states in Africa could only survive on the patronage of the Soviets and the International Left.   They missed the dynamic period of the Cold War and needed to court the West.  Mandela was always bitter about this.  If they had won their cause in 1980 it would have been a blood bath.   They still looted the country but murdered fewer than anticipated .

    • #22
  23. dukenaltum Coolidge
    dukenaltum
    @dukenaltum

    Tutu was a amoral and self aggrandizing fraud down to the core of his being who embraced every modern depravity and cause  without hesitation or reflection as long as he was guaranteed a prominent role and substantial fee.  He died worth 10 million USD and lived a lavish lifestyle inconsistent with his vocation and station in life.    Facing his final Judge, he is beyond our judgement at this point, but he wasn’t the man the Left created and portrayed.

    Rest in peace.

    • #23
  24. JoshuaFinch Coolidge
    JoshuaFinch
    @JoshuaFinch

    The so-called human rights movement is built on resentment and its advocates are would-be tyrants. That’s why they hate Jews, a true minority that has achieved much, survived the worst tyrants, and never needed handouts. The human rightsters fear that Israel (i.e. the Jews), would never bow to them. 

     

    • #24
  25. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    The so-called human rights movement is built on resentment and its advocates are would-be tyrants. That’s why they hate Jews, a true minority that has achieved much, survived the worst tyrants, and never needed handouts. The human rightsters fear that Israel (i.e. the Jews), would never bow to them.

    An interesting observation, Joshua. Thanks.

    • #25
  26. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    The so-called human rights movement is built on resentment and its advocates are would-be tyrants. That’s why they hate Jews, a true minority that has achieved much, survived the worst tyrants, and never needed handouts. The human rightsters fear that Israel (i.e. the Jews), would never bow to them.

    I’ve never thought of it that way before, but Jews do contradict the narrative of oppressed people constantly needing hand-outs and guidance from their progressive superiors.

     

    • #26
  27. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    The so-called human rights movement is built on resentment and its advocates are would-be tyrants. That’s why they hate Jews, a true minority that has achieved much, survived the worst tyrants, and never needed handouts. The human rightsters fear that Israel (i.e. the Jews), would never bow to them.

    An interesting observation, Joshua. Thanks.

    I believe it is more than that. 

    The Chosen people of God are those he reveled himself too. The enemy seems to hate them the most. His stirring of resentments seems most pitted against the Chosen. 

     

    • #27
  28. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    JoshuaFinch (View Comment):

    The so-called human rights movement is built on resentment and its advocates are would-be tyrants. That’s why they hate Jews, a true minority that has achieved much, survived the worst tyrants, and never needed handouts. The human rightsters fear that Israel (i.e. the Jews), would never bow to them.

     

    A common problem with all forms of socialism.  It feeds on greed, sloth, and envy of the successful.

    • #28