You know, when the Germans brought down the Berlin Wall, America’s determination helped wield the sledgehammers. When that lone, young Chinese man stood in front of those tanks in Tiananmen Square, America’s hopes stood with him. And when Nelson Mandela smiled in election victory after all those years in prison, America celebrated, too.
Well, someone didn’t celebrate:
When Rep. Dick Cheney voted against a 1986 resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and recognition of the African National Congress, Americans did know this man had been waiting decades for his freedom. In a larger sense, so had all black South Africans. The tenets of American democracy — one man, one vote — were denied to the majority of citizens, along with the most basic economic and educational needs.
Yet Republican vice presidential candidate Cheney still defends his vote, saying on ABC’s “This Week” that “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.” What, then, does this tell us about what information Cheney considers before he takes a decision? And what the long-term consequences are likely to be, and on whom?
By no means were Mandela or the ANC universally viewed as “terrorists,” evidenced by the fact that the vote on the resolution was 245-177 in favor, but still shy of the two-thirds needed to override President Ronald Reagan’s veto.