PERSPECTIVEnLA VIE EN ROUGE by Thomas FlemingnThe sins of South Africa are once again heaT on thenAmerican conscience. The flaws and contradictionsnbuilt into her multiracial social organization are subjectednto the most minute scrutiny and the imperfections in hern”human rights” record are held up as justification fornre-olutionary forces that would cheerfully slaughter thenEuropean population of Africa’s only state with a thrivingneconomy and with something like a democratic constitution.nThe usual cast of characters is headed up again bynCongressman Steve Solarz—the man who assured us thatnRobert Mugabe would bring freedom to Zimbabwe. Solarz’snobsession with South Africa leaves him little time tonspeak out on Mugabe’s forthcoming declaration of a onepartynstate. He and his friends also are curiously reticentnabout the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, although they filled thenhalls of Congress with denunciations of their comparativelynbenevolent predecessor, Mr. Somoza, who was almost asnevil and bloodthirsty—to hear them tell it—as the latenShah of Iran or President Marcos of the Philippines. As fornthe record of the Soviet Union, North Vietnam, Cuba, andnNorth Korea, these gentlemen make a strenuous effort ton4/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnnnaoid the charge of Red-baiting applied so regularly by ThenSation to anyone who criticizes a communist regimenanywhere in the world. (The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia isna possible exception, but they were, after all.’ opposed by thenSoviet-backed North Vietnam.)nSuppose for a moment that all the lies told about Southn.frica, the Shah, Somoza, and Marcos were true. Theirnmisdeeds would not begin to approach the accomplishmentsnof Stalin or Mao or Mr. Castro, who holds the perncapita record for political prisoners, or the Marxist thugsnwho are doing their best to starve the entire population ofnEthiopia. It cannot be simply a question of left and right:ncold war liberals in the early 50’s at least talked a good gamenof anticommunism. It isn’t at all clear .why decent socialistsnshouldn’t hate the U.S.S.R. a great deal more than theynhate South Africa. What exactly is going on?nPerhaps the first thing to obser-e is that what thenAmerican left really hates are the friends of the UnitednStates, especially those that profess some commitment tonfreedom. The form of government does not seem to matternmuch: it can be a monarchy, as in Iran, an authoritariannconstitutional state as in the Philippines, Or a Western-stylendemocracy as in South Africa. All are condemned. On thenOther hand, they adore the violently anti-American Afiricanndictatorships which are usually run by the most amazing setnof hooligans, straight out of Waugh’s Black Mischief. Thenmore familiar varieties of tyranny practiced in EasternnEurope are nowhere near so dear to them. If it were just anquestion of support for Marxist regimes, we would expectnGen. Jeruzelski to receive better treatment in the l^ew YorknTimes than, say, Julius Nyerere or Robert Mugabe.nThere seems to be a simple formula at work in thesencalculations: the closer a regime is to America (politically ornculturally), the more likely it is to be attacked for its failings.nIf I were to hazard a guess at why this should be so, I wouldnsuggest that we have been looking at leftists from the wrongnangle. It is not that their Marxist principles drive them intonthe arms of the enemies of the United States, but that it isnthe liberals’ hatred of their own country which leads themnto embrace any ideology so long as it is the opposite of whatnwe stand for.nHow did the left get to be so anti-American? It is at leastnconceivably possible to imagine a populist form of socialismnspringing up on American soil. Senator Robert LaFollette,nwho began as a conservative Republican, ended up as thenauthor of a great deal of social reform legislation packagednas the Wisconsin Plan. At the same time, the MinnesotanFarmer-Labor Party was as much populist as it was socialist,nalthough the declension from Gov. Floyd B. Olson (ann