"Robert Mugabe was once a hero," a Washington Post editorial sobbed about the tyrant of Zimbabwe last week, and led "his people's struggle for independence."
In fact Robert Mugabe was never anything but a thug and killer, leading a terrorist group that murdered Christian missionaries and their followers.
The Post, of course, thought (or claimed to think) otherwise, and for its editors and those who share their beliefs, the man whom the recent editorial accurately credits with "with transforming his country from Africa's breadbasket into a southern Africa basket case" has turned out to be almost as much of a heartbreaker as most of its other former heroes from Lenin to the Sandinistas.
When Rhodesians in 1980 were about to vote for one of several black candidates, Ian Smith, the country's outgoing white leader, recommended that they vote for Mr. Mugabe's main rival and fellow terrorist, Joshua Nkomo, as the lesser of two evils.
It so happens in what passes for "democracy" in southern Africa that Mr. Mugabe's tribal following is larger than Mr. Nkomo's minority tribe, and black voting followed tribal lines. Mr. Mugabe won. Mr. Nkomo and his tribe then suffered far more brutal persecution from the new democracy Mr. Mugabe constructed than they had ever endured under white rule, and thanks to the adulatory stupidity of Western liberals, the terrorist regime was entrenched in power.
Today, Mr. Mugabe has confiscated white farm lands and started rounding up and imprisoning white farmers who refuse to let armed black mobs drive them off their land. The result is the "basket case" that the Post has rather belatedly discovered and a famine that threatens not only Zimbabwe itself but several other African countries that have already managed to destroy their own agricultural base and depend on food from Zimbabwe to survive.
Future results may well include the outright mass murder of white farmers and whites in general in Zimbabwe, as Mr. Mugabe has openly vowed.
Mr. Mugabe's rationale for seizing the white land is what the Post calls "the colonial legacy that allowed fewer than 5,000 white farmers to hold 70 percent of Zimbabwe's best farmland," a "wrong that needs to be set right," the paper whines.
But as it turns out, the Zimbabweans who support Mr. Mugabe and who seized the land and drove off the whites don't get much of it. Who does get it? Mainly, Mr. Mugabe's cronies - including his wife.
Grace Mugabe, wife of the great liberator himself, showed up last week at a farm from which the two white owners had just been evicted. "I'm taking over this farm" she declared, accompanied by the usual gang of courtiers and armed goons. "We asked her what would happen to us," said a black farm worker who apparently had helped seize the farm. Her ladyship told him to go live by the river. The 78-year-old white man who legally owns the farm was dragged off to jail.
Mrs. Mugabe is not the only one to enjoy the fruits of Zimbabwe's social justice. The Washington Times, which reported the story in this country, also named 35 other cronies of Mr. Mugabe who have received formerly white-owned farmland. The thuggish black "war veterans" whom Mr. Mugabe encouraged to grab the land and push out the whites (14 whites have been murdered in the process) are largely ignored.
But not all. Some "war veterans" (most are too young to have fought in the war against white rule, but that's what they like to call themselves) actually have gotten white land, and black women to go along with it. The London Daily Telegraph reports that "hundreds of girls as young as 12 are being raped or forcibly kept as concubines in rural Zimbabwe by President Robert Mugabe's youth militia."
The paper cites human rights activists who have documented not only the kidnapping and rape of young women but also the torture of political dissidents by Mr. Mugabe's supporters.
What is happening in Zimbabwe is its transformation not only into a "basket case" but also into one of those pure hellholes that were the principal contribution of communism to world civilization.
Mr. Mugabe of course has always styled himself a "Marxist," which is why the Washington Post and its disciples drooled over him so much and for so long regarded him as a "hero" engaged in "liberation." Part of Zimbabwe's trouble today derives precisely from Mr. Mugabe's Marxism, but part also comes simply from the deep racial hatred of whites and lust for racial power that, much more than a passion for "liberation," drove so much of the black revolt against white rule in Africa.
And no little part of those troubles comes also from the sheer blindness and foolishness of the Western liberalism in which newspapers like the Washington Post are immersed.