To the Editor:
Bill O’Reilly called Nelson Mandela a communist after hearing of his death. With one slap of a single word, O’Reilly meant to derail all of the praise and sorrow that was pouring in from all over the world.
And Dick Cheney stigmatized Mandela as a terrorist during a 2000 interview. Yet Cheney did not think that Menachem Begin, prime minister of Israel from 1977 to 1983, was a terrorist, though Begin had been involved in the July 22, 1946 bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem that killed 91 people, including children.
And before his murder in 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King had been viewed as a communist agitator by J. Edgar Hoover for his activities in the civil rights movement. Even after King’s death, Hoover kept believing that King was a party member, though years of FBI surveillance hadn’t proven it.
It is very common to hear these beliefs from those on the right. It is not that these men have strong evidence, it is that they have generalizations that have outlasted the time that they were first voiced over 60 years ago when blacks in this country and South Africa began protesting against legally sanctioned racism.