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Monday, July 24, 2006

Race to the Bottom of the Agenda

Paul Krugman follows up on today's column, "Black and Blue." Here's the last part of his response to reader's comments:

Like Oil and Vinegar, by Paul Krugman, Money Talks: ...I don't usually write about what motivates my columns, but I thought it might be worth saying a bit more in this case.

You see, my wife is African-American, which gives me at least a bit of a personal connection to race issues. (Wait until the right-winger who just sent me a fax that begins "Leftist Jew Slime Paul Krugman," then goes downhill from there, hears about that!) Last week we had my mother-in-law's pastor, a black South African woman who grew up under apartheid, over for dinner. And afterwards, I decided I really needed to say something about race and politics.

Let me mention in particular one thing that didn't make it into the column. In 1986 Dick Cheney, then a congressman, voted against a resolution calling on the apartheid regime to release Nelson Mandela from prison. At the time he had, alas, plenty of company - and the Reagan administration blocked all efforts to impose sanctions on the regime. But what's truly amazing is that in 2000 Cheney was still defending his vote, on the grounds that the African National Congress was "then viewed as a terrorist organization." The truth is that even in the mid-'80s most of the world viewed the A.N.C. as a group legitimately fighting for its people's freedom.

It's things like that which make me doubt the sincerity of the Bush-Cheney administration when they claim to be crusaders for democracy and human rights. In practice, they always end up defending privilege. And even before 9/11, they were both promiscuous and selective about whom to call terrorists: to Cheney, the A.N.C. - which did pursue violent resistance, in which some innocent people were killed, but was remarkably restrained considering the situation - was a terrorist organization, while the apartheid regime, which relied on brutal repression to stay in power, somehow escaped the label.

    Posted by on Monday, July 24, 2006 at 04:41 PM in Economics, Income Distribution, Politics | Permalink  TrackBack (1)  Comments (35)

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