September 01, 2003

Schwarzie and South Africa:...

Schwarzie and South Africa: At the risk of incurring Kevin Drum's reasonable wrath, I thought I'd point out this section about Rick Wayne in an interesting San Jose Mercury News profile of Arnold:

Schwarzenegger didn't shy away from controversial views. He often got into heated battles with Rick Wayne -- a black bodybuilder from St. Lucia, a Caribbean island -- about one of the most emotional international issues of the 1970s: racial segregation in South Africa.

Wayne said Schwarzenegger defended the apartheid system and argued that white South Africans could not turn power over to black South Africans without ruining the nation.

"At the time, I just thought he was an out-and-out racist," Wayne said in a recent interview. [...]

"Today I don't necessarily think he's a racist," he said. "How are you a racist and have a black guy as your friend?"

Does any of this matter? Quite possibly not. Wayne could be grinding an ax, or remembering wrong, or exaggerating. Arnold, who seems to like messing with people's heads, could have been trying to get a rise out of an opponent, or simply playing controversialist. Lord knows if every devil's advocate position I argued in private decades ago became subject to intense public scrutiny, my electability would take a nosedive. Still, it's worth a single question at a press conference or radio interview: Did you ever support the apartheid system, and if so, when and why did you change your mind?

Speaking of South Africa, here's a bit of trivia: When Congress imposed sanctions in 1986, and then overrode Ronald Reagan's veto, the minority who stood on the losing side with the president included Dick Cheney, Vice President George Bush, James Baker, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Posted by at September 1, 2003 05:34 PM
Comments

I would say that Drum is right. Who cares what he might have said thirty years ago, when there are reputable political figures in Washington who appeased South Africa in the 1980's (btw, didn't John McCain and Trent Lott both opposed sanctions?) A.S. has far more trouble right now with his ties to U.S. English than any a-holish remarks he might have made to a pal back in the 70's.

Posted by: Steve Smith at September 1, 2003 09:02 PM

Steve -- I'm not so sure I agree with the agreeable Mr. Drum. First, I am a craven consumer of pointless & entertaining gossip. Second, if someone actually favored apartheid at some point in his life, that's a bit of relevant character information for me, especially (as is the case with Arnold) I neither knew nor cared anything about him until roughly five weeks ago. That said, I'm still not going to get too excited by one recollection of private conversations from 25 years ago. It's worth a follow-up or two from reporters, probably not more, but I am eager to read them.

As for U.S. English, I saw some pre-emptive op-ed a week or two back from a current or former high-ranking official. I don't agree with the *concept* behind U.S. English, but I don't think in general it's a particularly intolerant idea (I wholeheartedly supported the end of bilingual education, even though I agree with Gov. George Bush that taking pains to make English the official language "sends the wrong message").

That link you include is interesting, and I will pick through it when I have time, just as I will with the MEChA stuff. In both cases, however, I will be extremely slow to jump to any conclusions, since A) accusing a person of racism, or proximity to racism, is a gravely serious and searing charge, and one that should never be made lightly, and B) I know squat-all about either U.S. English or MEChA. Selective links to selected outrages are certainly interesting, and I'm glad people are busting ass doing it, but they don't paint anything like a picture complete enough for me to pass judgment. Today, at least....

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 1, 2003 09:21 PM

And you were electable to begin with?

Posted by: Howard Owens at September 1, 2003 10:41 PM

I guess the difference we have is there is no substance to A.S.' alleged "pro-apartheid" position. Back in the day, he (allegedly) argued politics with a friend, and he took what is now a politically incorrect position; he did not publicly advocate apartheid, or move to South Africa (or Rhodesia), or take a stance, one way or the other, with whether South Africa should be sanctioned. In short, it is less relevant than the fact that eons ago, Senator Byrd belonged to the K.K.K.; it's an interesting detail in the biography, but it has nothing to do with his positions (or lack thereof) on issues affecting the voters today. While gossip is always interesting, and gossip about A.S. is especially so, gossip that preceeds the appropriate statute of limitations(which in this case should be 1978) just doesn't provide relevant information about his mature political conduct.

Posted by: Steve Smith at September 1, 2003 10:54 PM

Howard -- Dude, I'm *so* electable. Fiscally conservative, socially liberal, pay way more state income taxes than Arianna Huffington, lived a far tamer life than Arnold Schwarzenegger, don't have those crazy McClintock eyes ... I've even got a complete California platform written up before I even moved here!

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 1, 2003 10:56 PM

Sorry. I meant to BOLD the word "today", not that entire last sentence.

Posted by: Steve Smith at September 1, 2003 10:59 PM

Steve -- I was totally gonna bust you on that over-bolding. Seriously, I had it all set up.

Um, didn't you write recently: "Where this [1977]interview is killing him is the manner it shows his utter contempt for women"? Not that that's precisely inconsistent with your statue of limitation idea .... Still, I'm far more interested in whether a candidate once believed that black South Africans could be trusted to vote, than whether he bragged to a porn-mag reporter about shagging groupies.

I know people (many Czechs, for example) who at some point in their lives thought Mandela was a Communist terrorist, and that if the blacks ran the joint all unholy hell would break loose. There are many reasons for suspecting such a thing, especially if you lived in a propaganda-drenched environment. If Arnold truly believed that while living in the States (which I frankly doubt), and has moved on since, well, that's a progression I'd like to hear more about, personal beliefs being more interesting to me than proximity to alleged racists. I'm asking for one or two questions, out of the next 2,000 asked to him by journalists (not that any of them are getting answered, of course).

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 1, 2003 11:18 PM

After reading Drudge's piece on this issue, I thought: "Wow, it must be something new, since we haven't seen anything on Rick Wayne." Then, after a quick Google News search, I found that very SJ Mercury News article, which made me wonder why Drudge didn't link to it at all, since I'm guessing the spiked TV interview would have revealed pretty much the same thing.

I think that this kind of thing has some relevance. We probably shouldn't be spending as much time on it as on, say, the budget deficit, but it does merit at least a single press conference question.

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at September 1, 2003 11:59 PM

Sorry, Matt! Made the same mistake that Steve did! (Geez, this is what one gets for trying to be formal and italicize a newspaper name....)

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at September 2, 2003 12:00 AM

OK, I have no idea why that previous post came out italicized, too. My apologies once again!

Posted by: Robert Tagorda at September 2, 2003 12:02 AM

Voila! (I hope...)

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 2, 2003 12:23 AM

Rick Wayne has written gossip columns for bodybuilding magazines for many years, and is a very hyperbolic writer. While I'm sure that his comments about Arnold have some basis in truth, I can't have too much confidence in them.

Posted by: Mike at September 2, 2003 10:21 AM

I am no friend of apartheid, nor am I a friend of those who defended apartheid or believed apartheid could possibly be a defensible thing. I also know nothing about Czech propaganda painting Nelson Mandela as a communist terrorist. However, I think it'd be fair to take the comments that Wayne alleges Ahnold said at face value and analyze them:

"Wayne said Schwarzenegger defended the apartheid system and argued that white South Africans could not turn power over to black South Africans without ruining the nation."

Well, he was right, was he not? Once apartheid ended, South Africa went down the tubes. I know quite a few SA expats, and they left not because they fear blacks, but because the new, black African-dominated majority voted out most of the politicians with expertise and systematically ran the economy into the ground with ill-designed socialist-based programs. And have we already forgotten how SA leaders said there is no AIDS crisis, that it's all a conspiracy, etc.? Finally, I'd remark that although Mr. Mandela had the moral highground fighting against apartheid, he was a miserably poor leader in post-apartheid SA, and these days he does little besides welcoming terrorists with open arms and opposing the United States at every turn. Thus, maybe it's not that unfair to label him a "communist terrorist".

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Andrew at September 2, 2003 11:29 AM

I just hate California politics. I think that's really all that's underlying this. My apologies.

However, my real point wasn't so much that blogs should ignore this stuff. Hell, blogs are probably the perfect ghetto for it. Rather, it's that bloggers shouldn't spend quite so much time dissing traditional media if this is the kind of stuff we spend our time on. Not only are we no better than them, we're probably worse.

Posted by: Kevin Drum at September 2, 2003 03:30 PM

Plus I've just been in a really foul mood lately. That probably explains my moody posting of late, and this ridiculous election isn't helping things any....

Posted by: Kevin Drum at September 2, 2003 03:32 PM

Kevin -- Don't apologize! You're probably right, I just disagree with you about the propriety of wallowing in gossip, and I feel less duty to spell out The Important Issues Facing California (as opposed to writing haphazardly here about whatever the hell interests me at the moment, which occasionally might have something to do with an Important California Issue).

But I think blogs are perfectly right in criticizing whatever journalism we see fit, no matter if our personal sites are as far removed from sober journalism as is technically possible. If I disagree strongly with Kevin Drum (which is pretty rare), well, I'm just disagreeing with a particularly smart hobbyist. If I disagree with Pete King (which is every time he sets pen to paper), I'm disagreeing with the guy whose large salary I'm contributing to by subscribing to the one and only major newspaper in my hometown. If I wanted to, I could choose never to read you; I don't quite have that choice with L.A. Times columnists. Which is not to say that one shouldn't argue with fellow bloggers (which we all do), but perhaps it informs the tenor of said discussion. I *expect more* from newspaper journalists....

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 2, 2003 04:03 PM

For what its worth, no matter if Schwarzenegger, the son of an Austrian Nazi, really did say that about if the blacks took over South Africa, then they would run the country into the ground, he was on to something. Think about it. Would the apartheid government in South Africa really deny the existence of the AIDS epidemic as opposed to actively dealing with it?

Posted by: Charles Rector at September 5, 2003 09:47 PM
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ost">Posted by: Kevin Drum at September 2, 2003 03:30 PM

Plus I've just been in a really foul mood lately. That probably explains my moody posting of late, and this ridiculous election isn't helping things any....

Posted by: Kevin Drum at September 2, 2003 03:32 PM

Kevin -- Don't apologize! You're probably right, I just disagree with you about the propriety of wallowing in gossip, and I feel less duty to spell out The Important Issues Facing California (as opposed to writing haphazardly here about whatever the hell interests me at the moment, which occasionally might have something to do with an Important California Issue).

But I think blogs are perfectly right in criticizing whatever journalism we see fit, no matter if our personal sites are as far removed from sober journalism as is technically possible. If I disagree strongly with Kevin Drum (which is pretty rare), well, I'm just disagreeing with a particularly smart hobbyist. If I disagree with Pete King (which is every time he sets pen to paper), I'm disagreeing with the guy whose large salary I'm contributing to by subscribing to the one and only major newspaper in my hometown. If I wanted to, I could choose never to read you; I don't quite have that choice with L.A. Times columnists. Which is not to say that one shouldn't argue with fellow bloggers (which we all do), but perhaps it informs the tenor of said discussion. I *expect more* from newspaper journalists....

Posted by: Matt Welch at September 2, 2003 04:03 PM

For what its worth, no matter if Schwarzenegger, the son of an Austrian Nazi, really did say that about if the blacks took over South Africa, then they would run the country into the ground, he was on to something. Think about it. Would the apartheid government in South Africa really deny the existence of the AIDS epidemic as opposed to actively dealing with it?

Posted by: Charles Rector at September 5, 2003 09:47 PM
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