A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nelson Mandela

This week, leaders of the world will join with the people of South Africa (and the rest of humanity, for that matter) to mourn Nelson Mandela. Actually, he was more than just a leader: political revolutionary and activist, philanthropist, civil rights icon, and so much more. Mandela is being remembered for his courage in fighting the anti-apartheid policies of his government. Indeed, he spent nearly a third of his life imprisoned for his political beliefs.

Of course, with the period of mourning come also the reports of the life Mandela lived, his inspirational struggles against social injustice, and assessments of his accomplishments. No one can argue his ultimate achievement — racial equality within a thriving democracy. However, some are raising issues with how he won these freedoms for his countrymen.

For example, former Congressman Newt Gingrich expressed his condolences and admiration for Mandela. Boy, did he catch hell from his conservative followers! One went as far as to label Mandela a “commie murderer.” That, coupled with an alleged report that Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly blatantly labeled Mandela as a “Marxist”, demonstrates that admiration for the late South African leader is not universal.

This is not to be construed that the accusations aren’t necessarily true. Mandela and the African National Congress did align themselves with the South African Communist Party in their pursuit of equality. His alliances led American leaders as diverse as John F. Kennedy to Ronald Reagan to keep Mandela at arm’s length, preventing them from rendering useful assistance in his fight. 
However, we should probably note that when your goal is social equality and you’re fighting Big Brother, you may not be in a position to pick and choose your enemies from your friends. Insert politics makes strange bedfellows cliché here. Every little bit of aid from every little corner helps.

Unfortunately, terms like “communist” and “Marxism” are still anathema to many Americans. For them, the America of the McCarthy era thinking of a communist under every rock is still very much alive. It gives them another reason to abhor the Affordable Care Act, which they see as one step closer to universal health care, which they maintain is bad medicine for everyone.

Countering these arguments from the conservative side of the aisle is how Mandela conducted himself when he served as President. He retired from public life after serving the full two term limit of his office. This action is more in keeping with western democratic ideals, and hardly in keeping with traditions established by the likes of Stalin and Castro. A communist dictator would have stayed in office, no matter what the law stated. Mandela may have stood shoulder to shoulder with noted communists, but his actions could not have been further from their governing philosophies.

Mandela’s funeral is being conducted as I write these words. The man is gone, but his actions and legacy will continue to inspire all who continue the struggle for justice in our world.

Rest in Peace, Mr. Mandela.

(Thank you for reading.)


Blogger David Jeffreys said...

Mandela -- a great man!

December 11, 2013 at 1:20 AM  

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