Christopher Hitchens in Slate:
The best political speech I ever heard was delivered by the late Paul Foot, scion of one of England's great radical and socialist families, at the Oxford Union in the late 1960s. The motion before the house was in favor of the African National Congress and its decision to renew “armed struggle” against the white supremacist regime in South Africa. By then, I knew enough about apartheid to be convinced that such a policy was justified almost by definition, but Paul wasn't content with that. Using extraordinary skill and patience, he reviewed the efforts of the trade unions, the legal parliamentary opposition, the churches, the censored but still active press, and all the other constituents of “civil society” to resist or even to ameliorate the conditions imposed on the majority by a pitiless oligarchy and its iron-bound cult of racist and fundamentalist theology. He detailed the efforts of the ANC to make its case at the United Nations and other international forums and chronicled the heroism of its lawyers in defending both individual and communal rights before the rigged South African courts. To every attempt of this sort, as he demonstrated, the response had been increased repression and the confiscation of even more land, more rights, and more liberties. Having at one point laid down the gun, the ANC now had every right to take it up again.
What impressed me about this masterly speech was not so much the case itself, with which I already agreed, but the “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” that it exemplified. A decision to resort to violence was not something to be undertaken without great care—and stated in terms that were addressed to reasonable people.