Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Department of I Don't Care What Anyone Says, This Man Sides With Evil

Democratic NYC councilman Charles Barron has announced he's running for mayor of New York in 2005. Personally, I can't stomach the man, and I'll tell you why.

I don't mind his calls for slave reparations, or for portraits of black dignitaries to be hung in City Hall; I don't care if he calls Mayor Bloomberg a racist; I don't have much to say about his tax proposals; nor do I take issue with his statement that "too few white men have too much power right now."

What I object to is Barron's sickening embrace of Robert Mugabe, the president of Zimbabwe. To read what a murderous man Mugabe is, visit the Web sites of Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or the homegrown Zimbabwe Human Rights Association and Zimbabwe Research Initiative for more grisly details than a person could ever hope to digest.

Read tales of beatings, rapes, and burning homes, courtesy of government—i.e., Mugabe-controlled—soldiers. Read about how Mugabe's regime uses food as a political weapon.

If you subscribe to the Economist, then you must surely have read its coverage of this monster, including this article, from February 2002—"Hell, no, I won't go"—which offers ample evidence to support its claim that "the 78-year-old autocrat would rather wreck his country than surrender control of it."

A more recent article, from last September, recounts Mugabe's ongoing suppression of any attempt by the Zimbabwean media to criticize his reign, as well as documenting the collapse of Zimbabwe's economy with facts such as these: "[the country's] GDP has shrunk by a third in the past three years; inflation has now surged over 420%; and 70% of the population live in poverty."

(BTW: the Economist is the only major news source to have a correspondent in Zimbabwe—or at least it was, until he was jailed and then thrown out, last year.)

But my point is this: In September 2002, Charles Barron brought Robert Mugabe to New York City Hall—"the first time since Nelson Mandela was received by Mayor David Dinkins that an African Head of State had a reception held in his honor at City Hall." It must have turned Nelson Mandela's stomach to see his name mentioned next to Mugabe's.

The Global Black News account of the event continues: "Upon their arrival at City Hall, President and Mrs. Mugabe were greeted by a large group of people welcoming them with their signs and banners carrying such messages as 'Mugabe Is Right' and 'Free the Land.' They then entered the Red Room where Council Members, community activists and members of the clergy were able to greet them personally and hear Mugabe's informal statement.

"Mugabe began by thanking the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus for inviting him. 'I felt overjoyed, delighted indeed that we would have this get-together,' he said.

"He went on to explain that although Zimbabwe got its political freedom 22 years ago, 'Economic freedom had not come to the people yet, mainly because the resources remained in the hands of the very people from whom we snatched ownership of our political freedom.' He said that the sovereignty of a people is not expressed merely by being able to vote leaders into power, but by owning one's own resources. That's the struggle they have now waged and won.

"Mugabe ended his informal remarks by extending once more the invitation he made in Harlem when his country first gained its liberty, 'Zimbabwe is free. Zimbabwe is home. Come home.' "

If you're interested, you should read the rest yourself. Also, here is Nat Hentoff's take on the episode, as well as that of the Gay City News.

But again: I don't care what anyone says, Charles Barron sides with evil, and I hope that those who support him now will soon enough come to their senses.