SOUTH AFRICA: Sharp Dissection by Christiaan N. Barnard

SOUTH AFRICA: Sharp Dissection

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Here's an odd little document to add to the annals of apartheid, the protest of a piqued celebrity. In a nutshell, Dr. Barnard finds himself feted as a heart surgeon and scorned as a South African. President and Mrs. Marcos were kindness itself in the Philippines, and brushed off an invitation for a return visit; Indira Gandhi listened to him explain ""the problems of a White African,"" but wouldn't acknowledge her agreement; Julius Nyerere extended an invitation to Tanzania, then didn't make it official. They're all hypocrites, and the press is the worst--condemning South Africa for wrongs that ""pale into insignificance when compared with the atrocious and horrific actions"" of Third World governments. To say nothing of discrimination in India, repression in Russia, racialism in the US and Britain. So pervasive is the bias, Barnard contends, that had the first heart transplant operation been performed elsewhere, fewer legal and moral issues would have been raised: ""if something from South Africa seems to be good on the surface, then [the feeling is] there must be an ulterior motive."" He also resents the criticism of his hospital's treatment (abandonment?) of non-White patients and its use (overuse?) of non-White hearts. There's no arguing with the doctor: he first, disarmingly, proposes the abandonment of petty apartheid (separate facilities, unequal pay), then sets up such a barrage of defenses against majority rule and for Afrikaaner nationhood (including the now-discredited claim that the land was unoccupied) that it would take pages to dismantle them. One sample of his mindset is his comparison of detention without trial to quarantine; another, the suggestion that governments be run not by uncertified politicians but by computer-assisted specialists. He'll be talking up these ideas on television, apparently, later this spring.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1978
Publisher: Books in Focus--dist. by Hippocrene Books