He explained for us why the black majority seems on the verge of revolution against a totalitarian government. Communists. If it weren't for outside agitators, people presumably would gratefully accept their beatings.
The president said he liked the idea of leaders of major nations meeting with the South African government "to bring along an end to apartheid earlier." The next day, the State Department said that it wouldn't happen, that the president was working with incomplete information.
Why do we seem inconsistent, placing heavy sanctions against Nicaragua and resisting even the lightest wrist-slap against South Africa? Commies again. Reagan said there is "no comparison between South Africa and Nicaragua." South Africa, he said, is "not seeking to impose their government on other surrounding countries," while Nicaragua talks of exporting revolution.
South Africa does a great deal more than talk. Its army routinely invades the territory of its neighbors. It supports revolutionary terrorists that plague its neighbors and destabilize their governments. It sabotages the rail lines with which they could be more independent of South Africa, and imposes economic sanctions of its own.
In the meantime, the United States, by taking no action at all, gives aid and comfort to these international bullies, giving them the impression they have our quiet support. We even support South Africa's designated revolutionary in Angola, Jonas Savimbi, making evidence of our complicity irrefutable.
Being president means you don't have to think about these things. The American people like confidence in our leaders. The current problem is that the confidence stems from deliberate ignorance.
"The more I study this country," said Andrei Melville, after pizzas and hoagies at a motel in Marcus Hook, "the less I understand it."
Despite his name, Melville is a Russian. He's a member of the Institute of U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow, and was among a delegation of Soviet visitors.
Whether it was the four days in Delaware County that confused Melville is hard to say. Chances are he was just acknowledging what anyone does sooner or later - the more you learn about something, the more you realize you don't know. And when what you're learning about is this paradoxical country of ours, it's no surprise a foreigner finds it mind-boggling.
Demonstrators chanted and waved placards wherever the Russians went in Delaware County. Not very hospitable, true, but that may have taught Melville something about Americans, too. We have a right to speak our minds, and we do.