So, Nelson Mandela is a rotting corpse and Dick Cheney isn't. God, apparently, has kicked the bucket, too.
The world is now mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, who died
yesterday at 95. In our grief as a species, we mourn someone who was
indisputably a more effective spiritual and human rights leader than he
was South Africa's first black president. Mandela, through his tiny
prison cell, and his countless millions of supporters, had shed a harsh,
pitiless light on the apartheid South African government, surely one of
the most brutal, repressive and fascist in the late 20th century.
What Republicans both then and now have forgotten is that South Africa
was like a social time machine that brought us face-to-face with our own
recent past. It was a classic case of, "We have met the enemy and it is
Witness Dick Cheney, who would go on to become one of
the worst secretaries of defense, chiefs of staff and indisputably the
worst vice president this nation ever suffered, voting against freeing
Mandela. As recently as 2000, when Cheney and his brain-damaged running
mate were on the campaign trail, Cheney remained unrepentant
about keeping Mandela in jail, saying on ABC's This Week
"The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago."
In 1986, the year the vote for the Comprehensive Anti Apartheid Act
took place overriding Ronald's Reagan's veto to sanction the South
African government unless apartheid ended and all political prisoners,
including Mandela, were released, Big Dick stood tall like the massive,
throbbing right wing hardon he's been his whole life, and voted to keep
Mandela in prison. By the time of the vote, he'd been in prison for 23
years. By the time Cheney had made this incredibly stupid statement that
should've cost Bush the presidency, Mandela had just wrapped up the
year before a five-year term as South Africa's first black president
And Reagan's administration was so racist, Congress, with little help
from Republicans, took the extraordinary measure of overturning Reagan's
Mandela's legacy for human rights for all people,
starting with his oppressed brothers and sisters, should stand in stark
contrast to that of Reagan, a man whose administration was every bit as
racist as that of Mandela's predecessor de Klerk. Reagan's legacy was in
smashing unions like the one he'd belonged to while still a Democrat in
Hollywood, ignoring AIDS to the point that he'd publicly mentioned it
only once during his ruinous presidency, seized on one of history's
inevitabilities, the fall of Communism and tried to take credit for it.
And, of course, he'd kicked off his first presidential campaign in
Philadelphia, Mississippi, the place where three civil rights workers
were brutally murdered in 1964, in a classic dog whistle speech that
spoke about "states' rights."
Dick Cheney, while not as
overtly racist as Reagan, nonetheless will always been seen as one of
the more successful members of the WASPish Old White Men's Club that's
been running the Capitol since Washington's time.
think it would be indisputable that Mandela wasn't a terrorist at all
but a fearless man who'd been imprisoned for over a quarter of a century
(27, to be exact) calling for the end of apartheid for a nation and a
continent that rightfully should've belonged to his people or at the
very least, one in which the indigenous people should've been given a
seat at the big table.
But Cheney and others labeled Mr.
Mandela as a terrorist because it was easier to simply believe he was or
pretend to believe he was just as today when anyone who challenges the
white, corporate status quo is also labelled a "terrorist" (especially
since the post-9/11 definition of the word in both the media and in our
courts has been expanded to cartoonish proportions).
Cheney, like Reagan, stood with other middle-aged and elderly white men
who believed that white people should be able to go to Africa, set up an
oligarchy and rule over the indigenous people and that one of the
oppressed should never have the temerity to pull an Oliver Twist and
ask, "Please, sir, may I have another?"
So it was a lot
easier to claim Mandela, a man who'd devoted his long life to peaceful,
nonviolent protest, was a "terrorist" because our capricious government
thought the African National Congress was full of terrorists.
Dick Cheney came into power in the early-mid 70's a time when Jim Crow, many of its laws
just stricken from the books, was still more of a raw wound than a
memory. Cheney, while he may not have have worn his racism on his sleeve
as had Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond,, represented the Old Guard that
was not spiritually, intellectually or emotionally agile enough to
accept necessary change.
The Old Guard that Cheney has so
ably defended, especially in the corporate sector, lived on in perhaps
the most shameful episode in the history of the US Senate when Jesse
Helms stood up and fiercely filibustered against making the Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr's birthday a national holiday.
President Mandela will be remembered for trying to restore some basic
human dignity to not only his own people but all oppressed people. In
his golden years, he remained an ardent activist to those same ends and
was a philanthropist.
Cheney will be remembered as the guy
who used his connections to get a heart transplant then made the, well,
incredibly heartless statement while pimping his new book about his
transplant that, "it’s my new heart, not someone else’s old heart."
Cheney will be remembered as the guy who personally OK'd Halliburton war
profiteering contracts from his very office and ordered that
post-Katrina electrical plants divert power away from five hospitals
that needed it and to the Gulf coast refineries. Cheney is a great
philanthropist in his own right, if a man's philanthropy can
legitimately be limited to himself.
Paris lit up the Eiffel Tower last night in the colors of the South African flag to honor the late Mandela.
When Cheney's long-delayed time comes, a glowing, smoking fissure will
open up in Death Valley and suck in his ragged, tattered soul to the
demented supernatural chorus of the millions of lives he'd ruined and