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The liberal idealists have been strangely silent now that Zimbabwe is ruled by a black despot.
Isn't it strange how back when Zimbabwe was called Rhodesia and ruled by a repressive white oligarchy, there were protestors aplenty outside of that colony's consular offices around the world. However, now that Zimbabwe is ruled by a just-as-repressive (and perhaps more tyrannical) black despot, Robert Mugabe, the vocal mobs of idealists protesting against systemic tyranny seem to have gone AWOL.
Not that life for black Rhodesians was exactly a picnic under the white-supremacy regime of Ian Smith, but at least there was still something to eat occasionally; and the nation's most lucrative employment opportunity hadn't yet become government-employed bully-boy or torturer.
Just how bad is life in Zimbabwe these days? Long-time liberal rights activist Nat Hentoff painted a pretty depressing picture in a recent syndicated column entitled, "A True Police State". Here's how Mr. Hentoff describes life under the savage and incompetent Mugabe regime:
If there were a contest naming which nation's government is the most vicious at
crushing human rights and the human spirit, many countries would be leading contenders. I would vote for Zimbabwe, ruled by Robert Mugabe -- once its liberator, now its tyrant.
The United Nations' World Food program reported on Nov. 30 that food shortages in Zimbabwe are so severe that half the population -- more than 6 million people -- will be in acute need of food by March. But Andrew Natsios, the administrator for the United States Agency for International Development, testified before Congress in August:
"We now have confirmed reports in a number of areas in the most severely affected region of the country, which is the south, that food is being distributed to people who are members of Mugabe's political party and is not being distributed based on need. The children of opposition party members have been driven away from school supplementary feeding programs in rural areas."
In September, Adotei Akwei, Africa Advocacy director of Amnesty International U.S.A., told The New York Times that "people have been detained and tortured. In (Zimbabwe) now, literally, no one's safety and security is guaranteed if there is even the slightest doubt of support for President Mugabe."
Yet, despite the pages on pages of retributive post-colonial "critical thought" still been churned out by left-wing academics about the repression, exploitation and injustices of Western colonialism, rarely do we hear a howl of protest from these same sources about the repression, exploitation and injustices occurring in Zimbabwe and other African dictatorships today.
One has to wonder what happened to all those impassioned defenders of the interests and well-being of ordinary black Africans? Where have the career opponents (on paper anyways) of tyranny and injustice disappeared on the left? And to paraphrase a much-loved 60's peacenik ditty, where have all the protesters gone?
Here's how Nat Hentoff paints the depressing picture of world-wide leftist acquiescence in the current Zimbabwe tragedy:
Yet, in November, The New York Times reported that "the South African foreign
minister, Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, said it was time for Western nations to consider ending penalties they imposed on Zimbabwe. South Africa hailed Zimbabwe's presidential election in March as legitimate, even though officials eliminated polling stations in opposition strongholds, and the police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of people who were waiting to vote."
Where is Nelson Mandela, who fought so long and courageously for democracy in South Africa? Where, in this country, are women's groups; the black and white clergy that organized against slavery and gang rapes by government militia in Sudan; editorial writers; and the clamorous commentators on cable television? Where is Jesse Jackson?
Well, actually we all know where Jesse Jackson probably is -- in a luxury hotel room somewhere getting it on with his latest female protege, or busy shaking down some guilt- ridden white corporation or other. But that still leaves hundreds of thousands of other professional voices of conscience in the West who don't seem to have a word to say in defense of the starving masses of Zimbabwe or anti-Mugabe political opponents rotting in Mr. Mugabe's many prisons.
Perhaps it's time for folksinger Pete Seger to revise the lyrics to his classic folksong as follows:
Where have all the
Where have all
the young idealists gone?
Where have all the
young activists gone?
Where have all the
social utopias gone?
Or maybe we all should get back to protesting against President George W. Bush’s recent judicial appointees – regardless of their sterling qualifications. It makes one feel so much better to make such a hypocritical and libelous big fuss; and it’s a lot easier to do too, isn’t it?