1977.04.01: The Cheap Shots at Idi Amin (Socialist Worker #1)

Socialist Worker #1
April 1977

In Black and White
The Cheap Shots at Idi Amin
There’s More Than One “Wild Man” In This World
By Michael Long [Michael Letwin]

Uganda is now in the news almost everyday, and Amin has become the favorite tyrant of the American press. Time Magazine called him “the wild man of Africa” and did a feature of racist diatribes and caricatures. Why all the special attention? The answer is easy enough.

A good horror story from Uganda is a great way to cover up the atrocities of the white rulers in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia). Or the slaughter of the students in Soweto.

RACIST

It is also a calculated attempt to discredit the struggle for black power and national liberation in southern Africa. It is racist to the core.

Amin has been president of Uganda since 1971, when he overthrew the mildly left-wing Milton Obote in a military coup — and became a hero in CIA circles. He is in fact a petty tyrant, who will stop at nothing to maintain his power. He is known for murder, torture, you name it.

However, is he more brutal than Ian Smith of Rhodesia? Or Vorster in South Africa? Hardly.

These white-ruled regimes are among the most murderous that the world has known. And they are backed by American military and business. They are the focal point for the struggle for liberation today. In Zimbabwe, the guerrilla war has numbered the days of white rule.

UPRISINGS

In South Africa, the uprisings in the working class centers of Soweto and the shanty towns of Capetown have involved hundreds of thousands of black South Africans.

So why not some nice Time Magazine articles on “Vorster — the Nazi of South Africa,” or “Ian Smith — Africa’s Number One Racist”? Obviously, a racist double standard. The same is true of the whole “human rights campaign” farce. It’s a political ploy to convince people that blacks are not fit to rule, and to defend the outposts of US imperialism. This hypocricy is not limited to Southern Africa. Nor to Russia and Eastern Europe, where everyone knows there is no freedom.

Here are some examples:

*SPAIN —  The US supported the fascist dictatorship in Spain with money and arms, beginning with the victory of the fascist Franco in 1939. The Spanish regime is responsible for murdering thousands of political oppositionists, and only very recently, under mass presure, have any political rights existed.

*PHILIPPINES — Martial law has existed in this country for years now. It allows completely arbitrary action by the government. The President, Marcos, is backed and supported by the US, which also has many military bases in the Philippines.

*CHILE — The US government, through the CIA and IT&T, anced the opponents of former President Allende. In 1973, his government was overthrown by the right-wing military, also with US support. This resulted in the immediate deaths of 40,000 to 50,000 trade unionists and socialists, and the imprisonment of countless others, who face unspeakable tortures. There are no politìèal rights in Chile today. Trade unions are not allowed. However, the US is a major hacker of Chìle’s ruler, General Pìncohet.

*IRAN — This is one of the US government’s best friends in the Middle East, along with Israel. Iran is best known for extreme anti-communism, as well as its total repression of individual freedom and political rights. It is also one of the best armed countries in the world, despite the fact that most of its people live in terrible poverty. These arms are provided by the US. The Iranian secret police (SAVAK) is allowed to function in this country (the US) to identify and mark for punishment Iranian students who oppose the regime.

The point is that there’s more than one “wild man” in this world. There are many, and they are necessary, at least as long as capitalism and US imperialism exist.

Sure, Idi Amin will have to be overthrown. But remember, it does no good to go after the pushers on the street if you don’t go after their bosses.

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