In the late 1980s, Liz Cheney, current Republican candidate for Senate in Wyoming, channeled her father on the issue of apartheid, according to a recent story in Mother Jones.
The magazine uncovered an op-ed written by Cheney, in which she sternly rebuked anti-apartheid college protesters. “Frankly, nobody’s listening,” the aspiring senator wrote in 1988 for her college newspaper.
According to Mother Jones, when Cheney was attending Colorado College in the 1980s, a liberal student group called Colorado College Community Against Apartheid was urging the school to not do business with companies that had financial interests in South Africa. The group organized a “shanty town” on campus to call attention to conditions in South Africa, and even staged a demonstration during the 1987 commencement ceremony. As it happens, Lynn Cheney, Liz’s mother, was the commencement speaker.
So Cheney’s disdain for the liberal college group may have been rooted in more than ideological differences. In fact, in the same op-ed Cheney offered strong criticism of the South African government.
“South Africa is indeed a moral cesspool and as free and democratic people we have a responsibility to do something,” Cheney wrote. But she went on to argue economic withdrawal from South Africa would do more harm than good: “It is fulfilling to express our moral outrage, but no responsible person would do so at the expense of the thousands of black workers employed in U.S. firms in South Africa.”
Ironically, Cheney — in a newspaper article — accused the group of being “reactionary” by simply making moral statements. “Reactionaries make statements. Conscientious and thoughtful people take action because they know moral statements will never change the world.”
To be sure, divestment — the economic tactic the liberal student group was pushing for — was supported by such anti-apartheid leaders as Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress. On Mandela’s first trip to the United States after his release from prison he visited Berkeley, California, the first U.S. municipality to divest from South Africa.
On the other hand, Cheney’s line of thinking was supported by Republican politicians of the day, including — not surprisingly — her father, Dick Cheney, who believed Nelson Mandela to be a terrorist.
Screenshot: Cheney for Wyoming YouTube channel