A reminder of what Republicans thought of Mandela
by David Atkins
The world is rightly eulogizing Nelson Mandela, who is unquestionably one of the greatest human beings to have graced this planet.
But let's not forget that Mandela didn't just meet with opposition from racist conservatives in South Africa. He was met with prejudice by the highest ranks of Republican leadership in America as well. Dick Cheney considered him a terrorist, and Ronald Reagan vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act.
Let history not forget this:
In the U.S. Congress, lawmakers were ready to show their opposition to the South African regime with the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act, a bill that imposed tough sanctions and travel restrictions on the nation and its leaders, and called for the repeal of apartheid laws and release of political prisoners like Mandela, then leader of the African National Congress (ANC).It's a constant theme of conservatism to falsely take credit for the progressive causes of yesteryear while attempting to destroy contemporary ones. It bears repeating: in 1776, a conservative was a Tory. In 1860, a centrist advocated more compromises and a conservative was a Confederate or Confederate sympathizer. In 1880, a conservative was a friend of the robber barons. In 1935, conservatives advocated that the elderly die in the streets rather than receive Social Security. In 1955, a conservative was a McCarthyite red-baiter. In 1965, a conservative was a Beatles-hating, MLK-hating opponent of Medicare, civil rights and birth control. In 1986 conservatives were calling Mandela a terrorist while clandestinely selling arms to Iran to funding fascist Central American death squads. In 1996 conservatives were led by Newt Gingrich and impeached Bill Clinton over sex acts. In 2006 they were committing war crimes in Iraq while trying to private Social Security and subvert the justice department.
The measure passed with bipartisan support, despite strong and largely Republican opposition. President Ronald Reagan was among those most opposed to the bill, and when he finally vetoed the measure over its support of the ANC, which he maintained was a "terrorist organization," it took another vote by Congress to override it. Among the Republicans who repeatedly voted against the measure was future Vice President Dick Cheney, then a Republican congressman from Wyoming.
Cheney's staunch resistance to the Anti-Apartheid Act arose as an issue during his future campaigns on the presidential ticket, but the Wyoming Republican has never said he regretted voting the way he did. In fact, in 2000, he maintained that he'd made the right decision.
“The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization," Cheney said on ABC's "This Week." "I don't have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.'"
It's not any different in 2013. The issues change, but the heart and soul of conservatism remains the same.