The racial slant in Cyril’s Floyd-Biko parallel reveals his true ...

Ideas

The racial slant in Cyril’s Floyd-Biko parallel reveals his true colours

His damning silence on the killing of 11 blacks by SA police and army strips away his ideological camouflage

Columnist

The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A Caro ranks as one of the finest  biographies yet written on leaders and their complexions, compulsions and achievements. In volume four of this epic work, The Passage of Power, Caro writes of the moment when Johnson was thrust into the presidency after the assassination of John F Kennedy in November 1963. He notes:

“But although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said ... is that power always reveals. When a man is climbing, trying to persuade others to give him power, concealment is necessary ... But as a man obtains more power, camouflage becomes less necessary.”

Mass protests across the US and the world right now following the dreadful slow-motion killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin, make this earlier epoch appear of distant interest. It is not: it is worth reflecting on how Johnson used his accidental presidency to immediately ram through Congress the greatest enactment of emancipatory legislation – the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – which had eluded his predecessor. This law did far more than any other to establish legislated equality between black and white since the American Civil War ended in 1865 and with it the curse of slavery. ..

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