When it comes to the Boers War, the mark of a True Believing Defender of the Myth is the inability to look objectively at what actually happened, and to cling to the comfort of Apartheid-regime propaganda. This failing, typically combined with a pretty low IQ and a determination never to actually read a book on the subject, makes for some ‘interesting’ debates.
One of the most remarkable of these occurred last night, when a fellow contacted me to call me a ‘fool’, and assure me that ‘the Boers were winning, until the Brits started murdering our women and children’. He went on to claim that the British ‘could not face the Boers, who were real men’. He did not take a moment to define what a ‘real man’ is, and opposed to what, exactly.
Nevertheless, and with little else to keep me occupied, I replied to his little rant, pointing out that he was completely mistaken:
After making the ill-advised decision to pick a fight with the British Empire, the Boers were beaten in the opening battles of the war: Talana Hill, Elandslaagte, Belmont, Graspan and Modder River. They proved completely incapable of taking Kimberley, Mafeking or Ladysmith, and their invasions of Natal and the Cape both ended in abject failure, with none of their objectives (ie, Durban and the Cape ports) captured.
Though they certainly had a bit of success in Black Week (three defensive victories), the British army then smashed the Boers at the Battle of Paardeberg (capturing well over 4,000 men) and relieved Kimberley. Ladysmith was also relieved after Buller defeated Botha at the Battle of the Tugela Heights. More defeats followed as both Boer capitals (Bloemfontein and Pretoria) were captured, as was Johannesburg. Another 4,000 Boers were captured at the Battle of the Brandwater Basin.
So if that is what you think ‘winning’ a war looks like, I suggest you need to look up the meaning of the word.
The British did not ‘start killing Boer women and children’. That is Apartheid-era propaganda, and it is truly embarrassing that any still repeat it today. People died of disease – in the same way that twice as many British troops died of disease as in action.
Of course the British could ‘face’ the Boers: they defeated them militarily. During the Guerrilla War, the British were capturing an average of 1,500 Boers a month. The average Guerrilla War of the 20th Century lasted 9 years. The Guerrilla phase of the Boer war lasted less than 2.
None of this historical reality cut any ice with this chap, however, and he replied, stating that, of course the Boers were winning, because ‘the British Empire killed 1.8 billion Indians in a famine’.
Yup. Really. 1.8 billion. With a ‘b’.
Quite how a famine in India in any way equates to the Boers ‘winning’ a war which they were patently losing is anyone’s guess. One should also note that, when British rule ended in India in 1947, there were only about 2.2 billion people on the entire planet – up from about 0.7 billion when British rule in India began, some 200 years earlier.
This is the standard of intelligence, and the level of discussion, one can expect from Defenders of the Myth, as they desperately cling to the last shreds of Apartheid-regime propaganda.