Monday, January 06, 2014

Who remembers Nicaragua?

So, on Face the Nation this weekend, Peggy Noonan called New York mayor Bill De Blasio a "Sandinista" – she tried to walk it back almost immediately, as soon as the host called her on it.

But, you know, it's a funny thing: that idea seems to be the latest right wing talking point. In November, Rush Limbaugh called De Blasio a Sandinista and a communist, as did the pundits on Fox "News."

So let’s be clear what’s going on here: the right wing is assuming (perhaps justifiably, considering how they’ve destroyed education) that nobody knows who the Sandinistas were. But before we get to them, the first thing you should know is that the Somoza family ran Nicaragua for 43 years (either directly or through puppets); they were wonderful guys, who kept power through assassination and torture; their relations with the US finally fell apart finally when the Nicaraguan National Guard was caught on tape gunning down ABC reporter Bill Stewart (and his translator Juan Espinoza) in early 1979.

In 1979, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) overthrew the Somoza regime by force: the only way possible when faced with a tyrant, with a secret police force and a prison full of anyone who spoke out against them. In 1988, Bill De Blasio traveled to Nicaragua, and came away with admiration for what the Sandinistas were accomplishing to help their people.

And, admittedly, the Sandinistas got a little repressive later on - mostly in order to fight the Contras (more on them later), but never, by any stretch of the imagination, did they get as bad as the government they replaced.

But Peggy Noonan was speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, who supported the Somoza regime. This was not surprising, because Reagan had this habit of supporting murderous thugs around the world, like the Taliban, the racist government of South Africa and their policy of apartheid, Augusto Pinochet in Chile, and many others. Essentially, it wouldn't matter how many of his own people a dictator killed or tortured: if they bought their guns from the US instead of the USSR, Reagan liked them. He was friendly that way.

In fact, one of the most memorable acts of the Reagan administration (you might have heard of it) was when they quietly sold arms to Iran (the same country that had just recently taken over their American embassy), and funneled the money to a terrorist organization called the Contras.

Remember the Contras? They opposed the Sandinista government. And they showed their opposition through the gentle, humanitarian tactics of rape, murder, destruction of entire towns, kidnapping, blowing up health care clinics, and targeting doctors for assassination. You know, just good, clean fun; these were the people Reagan supported.

So, let's draw a few lines: Peggy Noonan worked for Reagan, who supported the Contras, who were opposed to the Sandinistas. So I guess it's understandable that Noonan might think badly of the Sandinistas, as well.

Because she, too, apparently loves murderous thugs and hates freedom. At least, that’s the impression I get. Can anybody explain what it is that I might be misunderstanding?

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