Thursday, May 01, 2008

Nelson Mandela, You Terrorist Bastard! We're On To You!

According to this USA Today article, Nobel Peace prize laureate Nelson Mandela, along with several other member of the African National Conference, the South African organization that put an end to apartheid, have been flagged on United States watch lists as being terrorists. This means that they can't fly into the United States without special permission from the State Department. Condoleezza Rice called this "embarrassing." I'll say, particularly since South Africa's foreign relations minister, Rice's South African counterpart, is a long-standing member of the ANC, can't get a visa to enter the United States without intensive questioning first.

Representative Howard Berman (D-CA) (who's on my Congressional shit list right now for an entirely unrelated reason) called it "an indignity," while Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) called it a "bureaucratic snafu."

But, was it? A snafu, I mean. The reason that ANC members, both past and present, are even on the list in the first place is that back in the 70s and 80s, when South Africans thought apartheid was just a fine and dandy thing, the ruling white minority labeled the ANC a "terrorist group." But the watch lists didn't start being used to cull out prospective terrorists until after 2001, long after apartheit had been abolished and well after Nelson Mandela's installation as the first post-apartheid, black president of South Africa. So why has the ANC been flagged at all? I'll tell you why. Because a bunch of fat, white guys called them terrorists. And this country loves nothing better than to listen to a bunch of fat, white guys in charge of stuff.

This isn't new. The former South African ambassador to the United States, Barbara Masekela, who began serving in her post in 2002, was denied an emergency visa to visit her dying her cousin, and couldn't get permission to fly until after the cousin's death. This was in 2002.

Considering that the United States of America was created by "terrorists" (at least if you look at it from King George III's perspective), I would think that the US would be a little more careful about just who does and doesn't get flagged. I think the thing that bothers me about Homeland Security isn't that HSD is hard-core. It's that they're hard-core, lazy and pretty damn stupid, too. And when you put that all together, it's a pretty potent cocktail for a grand cock-up.

But I am glad they finally nabbed that terrorist Nelson Mandela, though. He is one scary dude.


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