From the S&S archives: Jesse Jackson urges world to boycott S. Africa
Stars and Stripes September 14, 1983
AMSTERDAM — The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson used his speech at the Free University Tuesday to launch a plea for a worldwide boycott of South Africa.
Jackson arrived in the Netherlands Tuesday on the second leg of a European tour, which he described as an attempt to explore "alternatives to nuclear war."
After his morning meeting with Queen Beatrix in the Hague, Jackson told an audience of 2,000 the world needs a new foreign policy. "That is why we arc today launching a major new non-violent initiative to focus international attention on the most visible symbol of official government racism in the world today — South African apartheid," he said.
While his aides passed out copies of a petition to be signed, Jackson said, "South Africa must become the litmus test for measuring where people stand on ... racism."
Jackson criticized the Reagan administration for its policies on South Africa and Central America.
Jackson cited as proof that the world needs a new foreign policy the widening gap between the rich and the poor of the world and the increase of nuclear missiles in the East and West.
"The latter," Jackson said, "has brought us within six minutes of a nuclear holocaust and has made the hot line obsolete." He added it should be the prime concern of politicians in the world to eliminate the nuclear threat.
"The deployment of the Pershing missiles (in Western Europe) is neither a deterrent to war nor a stimulus to negotiation and peace." He called it "provocative" and said it would stimulate an automatic escalation of the arms race on the other side.
"Nuclear war as we know it today is much too dangerous, much too costly and, given the margin of human error, much too likely," he said.
Furthermore, he said "preparation for nuclear war is robbing raw materials from Third World nations and robbing their human resources. It deprives them of the essentials — human life, health and housing."
Jackson became the first black American leader to meet Queen Beatrix and stayed more than double the 30 minutes allotted for his meeting at her palace in the Hague.
Later, arriving at Parliament to lunch with members of the foreign affairs commission, Jackson said he "felt good" after the royal meeting.
When he was asked at a late-afternoon news conference if he dreams of becoming president of the United States, Jackson said he has not made any decision. But he said recent polls show Americans have a growing capacity to accept a presidential candidate based on qualities, not ethnic background.
Jackson said he canceled the Moscow end of his trip because of the downed Korean Air Lines passenger jet. "I believe this is now a time for mourning, but I will make the trip at a later date."
Commenting on the Soviet Union's shooting down of the South Korean airliner, Jackson said the best response would have been to "take the moral initiative to challenge the Soviets to a series of meetings and not let this matter rest." Instead, he said, the United States "has taken the option of cold war action and hot war rhetoric."
Jackson was to meet with Dutch church leaders Tuesday night.