Wingnuts and South Africa - Jerry Falwell called Desmond Tutu a “phony” in 1985 (UPDATED)
I mentioned in a comment to LGF Reader Randall Gross’ page on the religious right and Nelson Mandela that the late Jerry Falwell stuck his foot in his mouth big time back in 1985 when he urged Congress to block sanctions against the Apartheid regime and called Bishop Desmond Tutu a “phony.” I couldn’t find video of his comments, but this story from the Los Angeles Times archives sums up what happened very well.
Both Falwell and [Richard] Viguerie—who estimated that their lobbying drives could cost more than $1 million each—asserted that restricting U.S. economic ties to Pretoria would only backfire, hurting black workers most while destabilizing the South African government.
“We see it as a fight between communism and freedom,” Viguerie said in an interview. “The idea that this (sanctions) is about ending segregation is nonsense.”
Meanwhile, Falwell contended that Tutu, a black Anglican bishop at the center of the current South African campaign against apartheid, has been rejected as a spokesman by most blacks. Tutu—who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent opposition to apartheid and white rule—has warned that a continuation of apartheid will lead to escalating violence.
“If Bishop Tutu maintains that he speaks for the black people of South Africa, he is a phony,” Falwell declared. He said that blacks he met during his trip urged more, rather than less, American economic involvement in their country.
Falwell and Jesse Jackson debated apartheid on Nightline on September 4, 1985.