Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Remembering when Ronald Reagan embraced Apartheid South Africa

By Marc McDonald 

After many years of struggle, the evil system of apartheid in South Africa came to an end in the early 1990s, thanks to the brave efforts of Nelson Mandela.

But apartheid's end arrived with absolutely no thanks to Ronald Reagan, a man who embraced the racist apartheid regime.

In 1986, during the growing struggle against apartheid, Reagan used the words "immoral" and "utterly repugnant." 

Unfortunately, Reagan wasn't talking about apartheid. Instead, he was using those words to describe his views on the Anti-Apartheid Act, a proposed law that called for imposing sanctions against South Africa.

Reagan's position was too extreme, even for his fellow Republicans. Reagan's veto of the Anti-Apartheid Act was overridden by the GOP-controlled Senate in October 1986.

The Gipper's position really shouldn't have been surprising. After all, throughout the 1980s, the Reagan administration maintained close ties to the South African government. Reagan even demonized foes of apartheid, such as the African National Congress, as "dangerous and pro-communist."

It's no wonder that 1984 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Desmond Tutu called Reagan's policy "immoral, evil and totally un-Christian" during a visit to the United States.

If Reagan's stance on apartheid seems surprising, it shouldn't be. After all (like many Republicans today) Reagan was a master of using subtle racist messaging techniques to rally support on the campaign trail. Recall how in 1980, Reagan gave his first major campaign speech, babbling on about "states' rights" in Philadelphia, Mississippi (where three civil rights workers were murdered in 1964).

Reagan's subtle racist techniques, of course, continue today. We continue to see it in the ongoing GOP attacks on President Obama. As The New York Times put it last year: "There has been a racist undertone to many of the Republican attacks leveled against President Obama." 

So Rest in Peace, Nelson Mandela. You were a true giant and a fighter for a noble cause: the end of the evil apartheid system. It's sad that your brave fight against apartheid in the 1980s didn't draw support from the likes of Reagan. 


Update: Already, the wingnuts are trying to smear and tarnish the great man's legacy (a trend I expect we'll see quite a bit more of in the coming weeks).

One article at right-wing sewer hole PJ Media is titled, "Communist Icon Nelson Mandela Dead at 95." The piece calls the African National Congress's armed struggle against apartheid as "terror attacks."

You've gotta love these wingnuts and their twisted "logic." Where was their outrage against "terror attacks" when their hero, George W. Bush, ordered the bombing of Baghdad and other cities during his invasion of Iraq? Those bombings slaughtered thousands of Iraqi civilians. And for what? So that corporate America could get its filthy hands on Iraq's oil?

Say what you want about the ANC's attacks, but at least the cause (the struggle to end apartheid) was worthwhile. 

(Cross-posted at Beggars Can Be Choosers.)

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