Thursday, July 18, 2013

Remembering the anti-anti--apartheid campaign

Hypocrites laud heroes once the fighting is over
The Republican Party's descent to Hades began with the southern strategy - the idea that the "sun belt" and its white voters would bring  it a new, stable. conservative majority.  
Sam Kleiner in Foreign Policy reminds us that the conventional wisdom among Republicans was the paternalistic view that divestment and boycott campaigns were "elite" PC snobbbery, and that ordinary (black) South African citizens would be hurt by anti-apartheid sanctions.  Speaker John Boehner's pose on Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday is typical of the politically necessary  celebration today of what was resisted or ignored yesterday (when Mandela was shunned for his Communist ties).    Kleiner explains:
On Nelson Mandela's 95th birthday, the world is celebrating the former South African president and cheering for his recovery. The U.S. Congress even managed a rare display of bipartisanship for the occasion, with members of both parties taking turns to laud Mandela as they stood in front of the Statue of Freedom in Emancipation Hall. "At times it can almost feel like we are talking about an old friend," said Rep. John Boehner (R-OH.) "He never lost faith in the strength of the human spirit," added Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).Today, Nelson Mandela is a celebrated elder statesman that both Democrats and Republicans heap praise on.
This wasn't always the case. When Mandela was imprisoned and struggling to end apartheid, the Republican Party -- through the policies of the Reagan administration and the work of party activists -- opposed U.S. sanctions against the white supremacist regime. Though they didn't support apartheid by any means, they turned a blind eye towards the cruelty of the system and failed to support Mandela in his time of greatest need. Today, Republicans will cheer on Mandela, but the Republican Party's historical relationship with South Africa, and Mandela in particular, exposes a sad chapter in the history of the American right.

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