AOH :: BADBR-03.TXT|
BAD BROADSIDE no. 3: Anarchist rant about Winnie Mandela and her i
WINNIE MANDELA, QUEERBASHING, AND THE LEFT
BAD Broadside #3
Several months ago a trial took place in South Africa that might have been
expected to be of great interest to the progressive lesbian/gay movement.
Winnie Mandela was charged with and convicted of various charges connected
with the kidnapping and beating of several young men, one of whom was later
killed by her associates. What makes this trial relevant to the gay/lesbian
movement is that at least part of the reason for this attack was that these
men were believed to be engaging in sex with other men, an activity that
Mandela apparently finds worthy of punishment by beatings and even death.
Over two years ago, when this incident occurred, Mandela was severely
criticized by anti-apartheid activists in South Africa. However, with the
notable exception of the article, "Has Winnie Lost It?" in the May 1991 BLK,
we have yet to see any criticism of Mandela by progressive lesbian/gay
activists or publications in the United States, including radicals like
Queer Nation or Gay Community News. A number of local lesbians even
participated in the organization of a women's event in Boston in her honour
last June. Apparently many radical lesbians and gay men feel that
queer-bashing is okay, as long as it is perpetrated by other progressives
We concede that it is hard to know all the facts about what happened in
this incident, but we have read nothing which leads us to doubt that
anti-homosexual bias played an important role in the beatings and murder.
Mandela herself admits that the presumed homosexual contact between her
victims and a minister at a hostel in which they lived was the motivation
for their abduction and beating. She claims, however that she was only
trying to "protect" them from "sexual abuse", despite the fact the "victims"
have never claimed that any abuse occurred.
Like many parents who try to beat homosexual feelings out of their
children, Mandela feels it is legitimate to torture those who prefer
homosexual sex. If she were truly interested in protecting these men
against alleged sexual abuse, why not deal with the supposed "abuser"
instead of further abusing the "victims"? The only abuse suffered by these
young men was that inflicted by Mandela and her friends.
Such actions on the part of Mandela against her opponents should come
as no surprise given her commitment to violence and bloodshed as the
preferred method of dealing with problems. Mandela has been tied to three
other kidnappings and assaults, as well as a disappearance, that took place
within a few months of the events she was being tried for. She also has
been quoted as saying, "With our matches and our necklaces, we will liberate
South Africa," referring to the practice of placing gasoline-soaked tires
around the necks of those some anti-apartheid activists consider "traitors"
and lighting them on fire. Interestingly, just like Mandela's bullying of
young queers, necklacing is used only against black people.
Unlike most of their counterparts in the United States, the progressive
movement in South Africa refused to keep silent in the face of Mandela's
brutality. In fact, the first reports of the assaults and killing were
published by an anti-apartheid newspaper, not the press controlled by or
supportive of the government. Anti-apartheid organizations in South Africa,
such as the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the United
Democratic Front (UDF) were quick to condemn such violence on the part of
Mandela. The UDF/COSATU statement read, in part, "We are outraged at Mrs.
Mandela's obvious complicity in the recent abductions and assault of Stompie
... We are outraged by the reign of terror that the team [Mandela's body
guards, also known as the Mandela United Soccer Club or the Mandela Football
Club] has been associated with. Not only is Mrs. Mandela associated with
the team, in fact, the team is her own creation. We are of the view that
Mrs. Mandela has abused the trust and confidence which she has enjoyed over
the years ... The Mass Democratic Movement hereby distances itself from Mrs
Mandela and her actions."
This rebuke from her former allies in the anti-apartheid movement came
only five months after another challenge to her image as a well-liked
opposition leader. In September 1988, Mandela's home in Soweto was burned
down by local "comrades", apparently in retaliation for a sexual assault
against a student leader by members of the "football club." (Apparently,
real sexual abuse is acceptable to Mandela and her friends, as long as it is
heterosexual.) The attack on Mandela's home appears to have been prompted
as well by ill-feeling generated by Mandela's rather comfortable lifestyle,
which includes ownership of a Mercedes, in the midst of the widespread
poverty in Soweto.
According to a source in the anti-apartheid labour movement, the public
condemnation of Mandela by COSATU and UDF was prompted by pressure on the
part of Soweto residents fed up with the activities of Mandela and her
associates. Prior to the killing of Stompie Seipei, opposition among other
anti-apartheid activists to Mandela's thugs had led both Oliver Tambo and
Nelson Mandela to call on her to disband the club.
The left in the United States, hetero or homo, has never been very
principled in its defense of individuals against the tyranny of progressive
governments or movements. For instance, some gay/lesbian activists still
defend the Cuban politicians who imprisoned queers in the past and
quarantine HIV-positive people today, practices these activists would find
intolerable if engaged in by the United States government or its allies.
Apparently, for many leftists, political leaders like Mandela and Castro who
mouth the slogans of liberation do not need to live up to the same standards
of behaviour as mere mortals.
In a column entitled "Leftist cheerleaders are often wrong, but never
in doubt," Thomas Sowell discussed the mindset of Mandela's supporters:
"Long before the present ugly episode, Winnie Mandela was justifying the
hideous practice of burning political enemies alive. How could anyone have
romanticized such a person? Like too many other issues, South Africa is not
approached as a serious question about the fate of millions of flesh-and-
blood human beings, but as a symbolic issue providing yet another backdrop
for our own moral preening. Those who are preoccupied with showing that
they are on the side of the angels are quick to find angels to side with.
Winnie Mandela was just one of those angels."
Just as many American leftists once ignored credible evidence that
progressive leaders like Lenin and Castro were brutalizing and killing
dissidents, most leftists today, including many lesbian/gay activists,
continue to fawn over Mandela despite the fact that even many of her former
allies have seen her for the bully she is and have spoken out against her.
People who are serious about liberation, sexual and otherwise, need to
have a consistent commitment to personal freedom and be willing to speak out
whenever people are unjustly attacked, whoever the attacker may be.
Hypocritically covering-up and apologizing for the excesses of progressives
puts into serious doubt the left's stated commitment to a free society.
A slightly different version of this broadside appeared in GAY
COMMUNITY NEWS, July 7-13, 1991
Please send two copies of any review or reprint
of all or part of this to:
Boston Anarchist Drinking Brigade
PO Box 1323
Cambridge, MA 02238
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