Archbishop Desmond Tutu on the Bush, Apartheid South Africa, and America today
These are just his answers to two questions. The entire interview is available on MSNBC
You said George Bush should admit that he made a mistake. Were you surprised at his re-election?
] I still can't believe that it really could have happened. Just look at the facts on the table: He’d gone into a war having misled people—whether deliberately or not—about why he went to war. You would think that would have knocked him out [of the race.] It didn’t. Look at the number of American soldiers who have died since he claimed that the war had ended. And yet it seems this doesn't make most Americans worry too much. I was teaching in Jacksonville, Fla., [during the election campaign] and I was shocked, because I had naively believed all these many years that Americans genuinely believed in freedom of speech. [But I] discovered there that when you made an utterance that was remotely contrary to what the White House was saying, then they attacked you. For a South African the déjà vu was frightening. They behaved exactly the same way that used to happen here [during apartheid]—vilifying those who are putting forward a slightly different view.
Do you see any other parallels with white-ruled South Africa?
Look at the [detentions in] Guantanamo Bay. You say, why do you detain people without trial in the fashion that you have done? And when they give the answer security, you say no, no, no, this can't be America. This is what we used to hear in South Africa. It's unbelievable that a country that many of us have looked to as the bastion of true freedom could now have eroded so many of the liberties we believed were upheld almost religiously. [But] feeling as devastated in many ways as I am, it is wonderful to find that there are [also] Americans who have felt very strongly [about administration policies]—the people who turned out for rallies against the war. One always has to be very careful not to do what we used to do here, where you generalize very facilely, and one has to remember that there are very many Americans who are feeling deeply distressed about what has taken place in their country. We take our hats off to them.
Proud to be an American
Not blind. Not uninformed. We are party to atrocities. But the response of the world after 9/11 is worth noting. Even our most dire enemies offered aid. We should all be so lucky.