Hitchens and Hentoff Wonder: Why is Mandela Silent on Zimbabwe?


Chris Hitchens’ latest at Slate asks a question that sounded familiar. Like Nat Hentoff, who asked the same question in the Voice last week, Hitch wonders where the hell Nelson Mandela is while butcher Robert Mugabe tears apart South Africa’s neighbor, Zimbabwe.

As the two columnists both point out, a word from the old lion might do wonders to focus world attention on Mugabe’s human rights abuses. Hentoff’s reporting suggested to him that Mandela can’t bring himself to turn against a former freedom fighter who also opposed colonial oppressors. Hitchens, meanwhile, hears that Mandela, depressingly, is just too old to do anything about the bloodbath next door.