P. W. Botha, who was prime minister of South Africa as the struggle against apartheid reached its climax, has died at 90. In 1988, I attended a conference organized by South African libertarians in neighboring Swaziland. When I arrived at the conference and approached the registration table, the first thing I saw was a stack of bumper stickers reading “I ♥ PW.” I was appalled — libertarians proclaiming their support for the boss of the apartheid state?
Then I got closer and realized it wasn’t a heart, it was a tomato, as in “I
PW.” Why a tomato? My hosts explained to me that the bumper sticker expressed solidarity with a protester who had thrown a tomato at the State President. Well, that’s better, I thought.
Botha was pushed out of power soon after that by F. W. de Klerk, who freed Nelson Mandela from jail and negotiated the end of apartheid.