Its headline sums up neatly the consternation and perplexity felt by liberals such as the column’s author Jarvis DeBerry when events like this (all too often for them) occur: “We used to sing Zimbabwe's praises, but had to change our tune.” To which an person all of informed, open-minded, and astute at critical thinking would have to respond, for two reasons, “Really?”
Because when the Marxist revolutionary Robert Mugabe successfully helped prosecute, then maneuvered himself into leadership after, a guerilla war that overthrew the white minority government of Rhodesia in 1980, anybody who knew the facts and applied them intellectually could see the disaster that would unfold under his and his political party’s rule. Nobody in that position who thought clearly could possibly conclude otherwise; Mugabe’s long history of articulating Marxism and bloodthirsty actions then made for immediate understanding that Zimbabwe would become a debacle under his rule.
So, who could be the “we” and how ever could they “sing Zimbabwe’s praises?” Well, in his piece Deberry appears to admit having been one of them, and added several names from the entertainment world who showed overt enthusiasm for Mugabe years after he had taken power and started the country down the road of ruin through authoritarian rule. Yet if the author wishes to assign the pronoun that he does to describe the attitude generally about Mugabe when he commenced rule, then DeBerry operates in a rather constricted universe.
More interestingly, how could DeBerry and the fellow travelers he notes so blind themselves to make themselves extraordinarily out of touch with the reality of Mugabe back then that he writes such phrases devastatingly at odds with the obvious, without any hint he ever knew better, that “Mugabe … showed himself to be vastly more interested in power than freedom,” and remorse from “disappointment of one's liberation movement going kaput and one’s liberator turning oppressor.” Again, inability then to see Mugabe off the bat as more interested in power and that the movement would fail from the start seems an exercise in truth avoidance.
Chalk that up to the anti-empiricist, hyper-visceral characteristics of liberalism, which sustains its worldview through emotional appeals disguising its selective use of facts that discards those inconvenient to its argument. As data and experience have accumulated to demonstrate the bankruptcy of its first principles that allege to explain human behavior, the left must turn to a combination of willful ignorance and need to validate viewpoints not on the basis of fact and history, but on how strongly these are asserted, regardless of any evidence backing them up. Only through this strategy may the chimera of liberalism remain believable.
Thus, we have the denial of Mugabe’s Marxist/authoritarian background, sublimated to hopes and dreams that because he ushered out a minority oppressing 95 percent of the population, he therefore promised enlightened rule. To the left, good intentions of a policy always make that preference worthwhile, even if it doesn’t do what it supposedly should or, worse, makes matters worse. Appearing to solve a problem in a way consistent with liberalism’s beliefs is the only concern, and any efforts revealing the king wears no clothes on that issue must draw a vigorous defense, usually through ascribing motives of bad faith. This discrediting of those with the temerity to draw attention to the nakedness must happen because it specifically deflects from the data that corroborates the left’s critics and generally casts doubt on liberalism’s entire edifice.
Clueless to the end, DeBerry’s final statement sums up what he and most others of the left felt at various points over the past 37 years: “Who’d have guessed back in 1980 that the fall from power Zimbabweans would celebrate would be Mugabe’s?” Well, anybody clear-eyed and thinking clearly, including a high school senior from a small town in Texas, who knew it would happen inevitably at some point in the future (even if over the decades it would amaze him how such an obvious tyrant whose mixture of Marxism and nationalism drove his country into the ground could continue to hold onto power). But perhaps the fact that a mea culpa such as DeBerry’s piece even appears provides the greatest indictment of the invalid worldview behind it.