• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Subscribe
  • RSS

On Mandela, Some Conservatives Get It And Others Quite Obviously Don’t

Nelson Mandela Prison Release

In the days since Nelson Mandela died, the vast majority of the media coverage in the United States has been positive and focused primarily on the manner in which the former revolutionary turned first black President of South Africa pursued a path of reconciliation between the nations black and white populations in the years after he was released from prison, to the point where seats of honor at his Inauguration were reserved for the men who ran and operated the prison he had been detained in for nearly three decades before being released in 1990. In most cases, the praise for Mandela crossed party boundaries here in the United States, with people like both President Bush’s, Colin Powell, and Speaker John Boehner praising Mandela as a man of peace. In some of the reactions, though, there was an echo of the old sentiments that existed toward Mandela and his group the African National Congress that existed during the debate over sanctions and divestment during the Reagan era, when a bipartisan majority in Congress that included men like Mitch McConnell, Richard Lugar, and Orrin Hatch overrode President Reagan’s veto of a sanctions bill against South Africa by an overwhelming margin. Juan Cole has perhaps the best summary I’ve seen of some of that anti-Mandela commentary:

Rick Santorum* slammed Mandela for supporting big government and then compared Apartheid to Obamacare. It is bizarre to compare an oppressive system of racial discrimination and denial of the franchise to an attempt to insure the 40 million uninsured Americans, almost all of them workers.

Mandela would have been a big supporter of Obamacare. In fact, Nelson Mandela put in place a government program to spread health care to the working poor across South Africa, using a special train that provides whistlestop medical services.

Dick Cheney, keeping his head down as his gay and straight daughters duke it out, appears to stand by his insistence that Mandela was nothing more than a terrorist and his vote against sanctions on the Apartheid government.

Rush Limbaugh churlishly complained about the media attention to Mandela, occasioned by his death this week: “the attention the that media is giving and the time that they’re spending on the death of Mandela . . . It’s way, way out of proportion to what really going on in people’s lives and what they’re scared about and what matters to them.”Limbaugh, perhaps having embarrassed himself, later praised Mandela for forgiving his racist white enemies but used his example to slam American civil rights leaders, who, he said, nurse their resentments. This use of Mandela to condemn uppity African-Americans who continue to guard against the reintroduction of Jim Crow is about the most racist thing you can imagine.

Conservatives who did issue statements praising Mandela on his death, meanwhile, found themselves targeted by online commenters claiming to be conservatives criticizing them in often vitriolic language:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) wrote that Mandela “will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe.” One commenter took a different view of the anti-apartheid leader’s legacy, urging “all you Mandela lovers head on over to South Africa and see what’s going on now that ‘Mandela’s people’ have control of the nation.”

As Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sees it, Mandela “showed South Africans and the entire world what the power of forgiveness truly means and can accomplish.” It’s unclear if some of Rubio’s disappointed supporters will be similarly forgiving of the senator.

One woman found it “sad” that Rubio, a son of Cuban immigrants, showed such reverence given that the GOP senator’s family “fled the very things that mandela (sic) stood for.” After seeing the tribute, another woman said Rubio had lost her vote.

(…)

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wrote that the “world has lost an exceptional leader who made the world a better place.” But some commenters cried foul at the “revisionist history” of Mandela. Another expressed relief that “Mass Murderer Mandela is finally dead.”

A commenter on the Facebook page of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), whocommemorated Mandela’s “perseverance in fighting the apartheid system,” likewise said that the death made him “glad.” Another wondered if Boehner was implying support for “communism and the killing of white people.”

Similar comments could be found in the comment threads of Mandela-related posts on several high-traffic conservative blogs. Judging an entire political movement by what people post in Internet comment threads is generally a mistake, of course, but given the prevalence of such comments, and their consistency with the reaction one sees online from this segment of the right generally, it seems hard to deny that they represent at least some portion of the conservative movement and that the attitudes that existed in the 1980s on the right regarding Mandela, South Africa, and whether the fight against Apartheid was something the U.S. should have been pursuing still exists notwithstanding the fact that, for the most part, history has proven the fears of those who believed that releasing Mandela and letting the white minority government fall would lead to disaster in South Africa to have been completely wrong.

Some people still appear hung up on the fact that, before he entered prison, Mandela did in fact have alliances with Communists and others on the left in South Africa and that he also advocated the use of violence against a government that was, accurately, perceived as oppressing a black majority that under the law had no rights and no ability to peacefully demand its rights in the manner that African-Americans in the American South were in the 1950s and 1960s.  It’s also true that, while Mandela was in prison, the ANC and its allied groups became even more violent and radical in the face of increased government crackdowns, including the murder of fellow activists such as Steven Biko. Finally, it’s also true that in the final years before Mandela was released, the ANC turned increasingly toward enacting terrorist-like tactics against blacks deemed to be insufficiently committed to “the cause,” including most prominently the nations large population of Zulus. Mandela, of course, isn’t responsible for all of this, most certainly not what occurred while he was in prison, and it’s worth noting that he was very quick to disassociate himself from many of the ANC’s actions, and even his own wife Winnie, in the years after he was released from prison. However, it is true that he wasn’t the “peacemaker” all of his life, and that he was not a Saint either, although I don’t recall him ever making that claim and doubt that he ever would have. Nonetheless, it is this side of Mandela’s legacy that many American conservatives are choosing to focus on in the wake of his death.

What’s been interesting to see over the past few days, though, has been the push back against some of that commentary from prominent conservatives unwilling to cede the ground unwilling to let the effort of some of their fellow conservatives to paint Mandela as some kind of life long Communist radical.

Among the most vocal in that regard has been Newt Gingrich, who released this statement as a featured article on the website of his company Gingrich Productions:

Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country.
After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.

As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny. We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that “all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Doesn’t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?

Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.

Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.

I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.

Gingrich continued pushing back during an appearance on State of the Union:

Newt Gingrich on Sunday addressed the backlash over comments he made on Facebook praising former South African President Nelson Mandela.

CNN “State of the Union” host Candy Crowley read some of the Facebook responses criticizing Gingrich’s statement.

“Such an amazing rewrite of history since 1962 and 1990. Newt, I thought you, of all people, a historian, would be true to who this guy really was,” one said. And another wrote: “This clenched-fist, murdering guerilla warrior does not deserve respect from informed Americans.

Gingrich said he was “very surprised” by reactions. And in response to the uproar, he wrote his Friday newsletter asking his followers what they would have done about Mandela’s views and apartheid in South Africa.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) faced similar backlash on comments he made lauding Mandela’s life and career. When Crowley asked if the criticism of their comments comes from fellow conservatives, Gingrich said they are people who “bought a rationale that defined everybody who was in anyway in rebellion against the established system in the third world as anti-American.”

Gingrich also released this video:

Lest you think that Gingrich is engaging in some historical revisionism here, Ta-Nehisi Coates points out that this is entirely consistent with Gingrich’s position in the 1980s:

I think it’s important to note that Gingrich’s position here is not particularly new. This is not an attempt to rewrite history, or claim someone in death whom Gingrich opposed in life. Newt Gingrich was among a cadre of conservatives who opposed the mainstream conservative stance on apartheid and ultimately helped override Reagan’s unconscionable veto of sanctions. At the time, Gingrich was allied with a group of young conservatives including Vin Weber looking to challenge Republican orthodoxy on South Africa. “South Africa has been able to depend on conservatives to treat them with benign neglect,” said Weber. “We served notice that, with the emerging generation of conservative leadership, that is not going to be the case.”

I’ve been fairly critical of Gingrich in the past, but he’s absolutely right here in both calling out fellow conservatives who, both back in the 1980s and through to this day, refuse to see the Apartheid regime in South Africa for the tyrannical regime that it actually was, and for placing Mandela’s turn toward radicalism in the 1960s in its proper context. At the time that he was becoming political aware, revolutionaries around the world perceived that it was the political left that was their ally against colonialism and other forces keeping them from political power. Utilizing its access to sympathizers on the ground, the Soviet Union was often able to exploit this fact to turn these revolutionaries into allies of theirs and adversaries of the United States, but that was often helped along the way by the fact that the United States and the West spent much of the Cold War often reflexively backing repressive regimes that ended up giving birth to leftist insurgencies. Indeed, even late into his life, Mandela continued to speak critically of American foreign policy, something which is completely understandable given his experiences and the position that the United States Government took until things started to change under the Presidency of George H.W. Bush. When Gingrich asks his fellow conservatives “What would you have done?,” he’s really asking them to put themselves in Mandela’s shoes and wonder how they would have reacted as a member of an oppressed majority (or minority as the case may be) that is denied even the most basic political and human rights. Indeed, it’s worth noting that America’s Founding Fathers turned to war over transgressions that, put into perspective were far less severe than what the black population of South Africa had to deal with until Apartheid finally ended. If it was morally acceptable for them to take up arms to protect their rights, then why wouldn’t Mandela and the blacks of South Africa have the same rights?

Gingrich isn’t the only conservative to speak in this manner. Over the weekend, my attention was drawn to this passage from John Judas’s biography of William F. Buckley Jr., William F. Buckley Jr., Patron Saint Of Conservatives:  (excerpt obtained via Google Books)

WFB Book

In the end, it strikes me that this is the proper context in which to place all of Mandela’s legacy. Even if you disagree with his political leftism, his friendships with leaders such as Gaddaffi and Fidel Castro, or his criticisms of the United States, it’s hard to find much to disagree with in the choices that he and other black South Africans made given the options that they had. There was plenty of reason for him to both hate and resent the white minority that had oppressed his people and held him in prison for nearly three decades, at one point even denying him a temporary release to attend the funeral of his oldest son. As I noted on Thursday night after we learned of his death, though, what is truly remarkable about the man is that he was able to find a way to put those political and personal resentments aside for the good of his country. Granted, things have not been perfect in South Africa over the past two decades, but they could have been far, far worse and the reason that they aren’t is largely thanks to one man.

Related Posts:

About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Latino_in_Boston says:

    I find it so odd that the same people that think background checks are the pathway to tyranny and something that will prompt a revolution also think that Mandela should have been cool with apartheid. Perhaps, history, politics or general social science is not their strong suit?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 53 Thumb down 4

  2. Rusty Shackleford says:

    Newt Gingrich is the sober guy with the nuanced and accurate view of a charged issue. Just let that sink in.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 81 Thumb down 1

  3. john personna says:

    +1

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  4. al-Ameda says:

    My god, the myopia, I almost feel sorry for these small-minded people.

    Nelson Mandela’s story is nearly straight from the pages of a Hollywood screenplay and movie. It could have been from something like “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Just imagine Mandela (and the rest of us) being shown what South Africa became after that monumental 1994 election, in the absence of Mandela? Imagine imprisonment for 27 years and forgiving those who incarcerated you for nothing other than actively opposing a political, legal and economic system that oppressed and caused the early death of millions of native South Africans?

    Honestly, if one can’t understand the breathtaking richness – greatness – of a life journey such as that …

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 1

  5. James Young says:

    While Mandela’s communist history is rightly noted, so is his move away from Marxism during his imprisonment and after his release, as well as how he actually governed. According to a commentator at Breitbart who has been on WMAL a couple of time, he was quite committed to constitutional limitations as South Africa’s President. Hagiography is always an unsatisfying exercise, but gratuitous hit-pieces are no more useful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Rusty Shackleford: I always said if I ever found myself in agreement with Newt it was time for a hemlock cocktail. Sigh…. Anybody know where I can find hemlock in the Ozarks?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  7. Mark Ivey says:

    That William F. Buckley sure was a liberal by today´s GOP standards hey?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  8. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The Mandela that went into prison was not the same Mandela who walked out 27 years later. And the man who walked out was an incredible human being — maybe one in a billion.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 1

  9. C. Clavin says:

    @Mark Ivey:
    Today’s Republicans have WFB spinning in his grave.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  10. MarkedMan says:

    I’m surprised Buckley said that because, frankly, he was a bigot. He opposed civil rights in America and supported the Apartheid SA regime. I’m curious about the wider context which led him to say that. I hold many conservative positions (at least by my definition of conservative) but would never call myself a “Conservative”. There is a straight and unbroken line in at least the past seventy five years of those who publicly led the Conservative movement being on the wrong side, the immoral side, of almost every major social issue of our time.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 3

  11. Jim Henley says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    The Mandela that went into prison was not the same Mandela who walked out 27 years later. And the man who walked out was an incredible human being — maybe one in a billion.

    And the men who locked him up were the usual sh;ts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’m with you.
    Conservatism has much to offer.
    But it’s always lost in the translation from theory to reality.
    And never has that been more true than today.
    The examples offered above: Santorum, Cheney, Limbaugh, Cruz, Rubio, Cantor, Boehner …not a real Conservative amongst them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  13. Stonetools says:

    I think the division is simple. Some conservatives are white supremacists Who think that blacks don’t deserve equal rights and aren’t entitled to fight for those rights, and some conservatives aren’t. The Communist and terrorist talk is just a smoke screen.
    WFB is IMO a example of a conservative who evolved. He started out as a white supremacist who evolved into a conservative who accepted that blacks were entitled to equal rights

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  14. JohnMcC says:

    It’s certainly worth noting that the African ‘leader’ who received Conservative blessings (and financial & political support) during those years was Jonas Savimbi.

    Let those who care about such things look into General Savimbi’s record during the period that President Mandela was named a terrorist by Republican administrations.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  15. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Jim Henley: And the men who locked him up were the usual sh;ts.

    And those men’s successors were the ones who released Mandela.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  16. Chaka Joom says:

    Sweeping aside the views of some conservatives on his legacy, here’s a great Rudyard Kipling poem applied to Mandela.
    https://sites.google.com/site/mandelatributekiplingif/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Jim Henley says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: And, right up until the sanctions started to bite hard, kept him imprisoned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  18. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    The problem may well be summed up in the comment Truman (??) made about one of the Latin American dictators noting that was a bastard but that he was “our bastard.” It is small steps to go from that to “those guys are worse and he’s the best alternative available” to “he’s actually a pretty good guy” to “he’s the real freedom fighter” to…well…the right wingnut blogosphere. It starts by making the convergence that Buckley and others (on each side of the spectrum) make that equate one political stand with morality and the other with immorality. Apartheid was more desirable to our Reagan’s political needs for the area than Marxism (which, of course was the only available out come because…well…) therefore it is also morally superior.

    The process is called argument within a vacuum or false dilemma or various other things. It happens a lot (over much less serious issues) within the threads here–Michael Reynolds and others engaged in a lengthy example just yesterday in response to Joiner’s post about the Higgs Bosun guy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. rudderpedals says:

    Compare with Zimbabwe. You can’t help but admire the man for benevolence and magnanimity in victory. The idea to grant amnesty conditioned on disclosure in wide open reconciliation hearings worked out great. There could have been awful violence and inhumanity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. Eric Florack says:

    In the end, it strikes me that this is the proper context in which to place all of Mandela’s legacy. Even if you disagree with his political leftism, his friendships with leaders such as Gaddaffi and Fidel Castro, or his criticisms of the United States, it’s hard to find much to disagree with in the choices that he and other black South Africans made given the options that they had.

    7. On the U.S. war with Iraq:

    “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings.”
    Via cbsnews.com
    6. On Israel:

    “Israel should withdraw from all the areas which it won from the Arabs in 1967, and in particular Israel should withdraw completely from the Golan Heights, from south Lebanon and from the West Bank.”
    Via jweekly.com

    5. On the U.S. war with Iraq:

    “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil.”
    Via cbsnews.com

    4. Mandela on Castro and the Cuban revolution:

    “From its earliest days, the Cuban Revolution has also been a source of
    inspiration to all freedom-loving people. We admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty in the face of the vicious imperialist-orquestrated campaign to destroy the impressive gain made in the Cuban Revolution. … Long live the Cuban Revolution. Long live comrade Fidel Castro.”
    Via lanic.utexas.edu
    3. Mandela on Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, his longtime supporter:

    “It is our duty to give support to the brother leader … especially in regards to the sanctions which are not hitting just him, they are hitting the ordinary masses of the people … our African brothers and sisters.”
    Via finalcall.com
    2. On the U.S. preparing to invade Iraq in a 2002 interview with Newsweek:

    “If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.”
    Via newsweek.com

    1. On a Palestinian state:

    “The UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system. But we know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”
    Via cbsnews.com

    -=-=-

    Say what you will of the inequities in the SA government, and I’ll likely agree, But are you *really* saying that socialism, was the only tool anyone could bring to bear to solve that issue?
    Sorry, I don’t buy that one.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 59

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’rant cracker: the Higgs Bosun guy.

    I took the very rare step of giving you a thumbs up purely for those four words.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  22. steve s says:

    “If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don’t care for human beings.”

    That’s for damn sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 6

  23. Eric Florack says:

    @Jim Henley: That’s an interesting point, Jim.
    And might even carry some weight had we not ample proof that he was still operating from the socialist side of the fence, once released…. such as a few of the quotes above.
    And of course his comments on Arrifat’s death., (Which I think are available on YOU TUBE)

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 34

  24. An Interested Party says:

    So, to some conservatives (a prime example above), if someone who is fighting oppression and discrimination doesn’t do it in exactly the way that conservatives would approve, that person is to be dismissed, no matter how much good he did…

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  25. Jim Henley says:

    @Eric Florack: Nope. Doesn’t change the fact that his captors were horrible people. And it is a horrible act to defend them. Albeit it’s less horrible than actually being them.

    This is leaving aside that your quotes have nothing particular to do with “socialism.” Socialism is an umbrella term for a variety of programs of political economy ranging from democratic to tyrannical, so there’s an awful lot of room on “the socialist side of the fence.” But even so, Mandela actually ran the country for awhile, within constitutional constraints, so we can see the extent to which he actually nationalized the means of production, collectivized agriculture, liquidated the kulaks and so on. And we find that the extent to which he did these things was: they didn’t actually happen. South Africa is probably less socialist than Denmark.

    Of course many of Mandela’s quotes – e.g. the ones on the Iraq war, and his support for the US position that a Palestinian state is a necessary component of a just and effective middle-east peace – are unobjectionable. The worst ones – expressing verbal support for friendly dictators – are not different from what US and other leaders have done forever: express verbal support for friendly dictators.

    Your entire brief boils down to, “Nelson Mandela was not a right-wing white American or supporter of right-wing white American positions and that makes him bad.” But it doesn’t. It just makes him, like practically everyone on the planet, not a right-wing white American.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 2

  26. Eric Florack says:

    AIP: What you seem to be missing is that the communists oppress people as well.
    I wonder if it has occurred to you that it was a rather large and centralized government that denied Mandella his rights?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 37

  27. Eric Florack says:

    @Jim Henley:

    Nope. Doesn’t change the fact that his captors were horrible people.

    Oh, agreed. As I said in my first response, say what you will about them, I’ll likely agree. But what he pushed for was the establishment of a different evil than the one they were enduring. Not a real win-win situation. I mean, the communist idea and ideal has oppressed more people than any other on this planet. Does it really make sense to replace one oppressor with another?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 27

  28. Rafer Janders says:

    Some people still appear hung up on the fact that, before he entered prison, Mandela did in fact have alliances with Communists and others on the left in South Africa and that he also advocated the use of violence against a government that was, accurately, perceived as oppressing a black majority that under the law had no rights and no ability to peacefully demand its rights in the manner that African-Americans in the American South were in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s also true that, while Mandela was in prison, the ANC and its allied groups became even more violent and radical in the face of increased government crackdowns, including the murder of fellow activists such as Steven Biko. Finally, it’s also true that in the final years before Mandela was released, the ANC turned increasingly toward enacting terrorist-like tactics against blacks deemed to be insufficiently committed to “the cause,” including most prominently the nations large population of Zulus. Some people still appear hung up on the fact that, before he entered prison, Mandela did in fact have alliances with Communists and others on the left in South Africa and that he also advocated the use of violence against a government that was, accurately, perceived as oppressing a black majority that under the law had no rights and no ability to peacefully demand its rights in the manner that African-Americans in the American South were in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s also true that, while Mandela was in prison, the ANC and its allied groups became even more violent and radical in the face of increased government crackdowns, including the murder of fellow activists such as Steven Biko. Finally, it’s also true that in the final years before Mandela was released, the ANC turned increasingly toward enacting terrorist-like tactics against blacks deemed to be insufficiently committed to “the cause,” including most prominently the nations large population of Zulus.

    The apartheid government of South Africa advocated the use of violence against the black majority that it oppressed under the law. It’s also true that, while Mandela was in prison, the white minority government became even more violent and radical in the face of increased democratic opposition, including the murder of activists such as Steven Biko. Finally, it’s also true that in the final years before Mandela was released, the apartheid Afrikaners turned increasingly toward enacting terrorist-like tactics against blacks deemed to be insufficiently subservient to the white minority including most prominently the nation’s large population of Xhosa.

    It’s funny that people demanded that the black resistance renounce violence when the same demand was never made of the apartheid government….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 1

  29. Grewgills says:

    And Bit comes in and illustrates Doug’s point for us all.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  30. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    2. On the U.S. preparing to invade Iraq in a 2002 interview with Newsweek:
    “If you look at those matters, you will come to the conclusion that the attitude of the United States of America is a threat to world peace.” Via newsweek.com

    Where was he wrong? We invaded Iraq for no reason related to the security and defense of America.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 34 Thumb down 2

  31. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    Are you planning to refuse your socialist Medicare and Social Security benefits?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  32. anjin-san says:

    What we are seeing from a lot of conservatives is “well, yea, he was a great man, but, but, but, communism.”

    They simply can’t bring themselves to admit that a black man was the single greatest voice for moral leaderhip in the world.

    On a tangent, it interesting that Pope Francis has arrived on the scene more or less as Mandela was leaving us. Well, they seem to be struggling with what the Pope has to say too.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 1

  33. Eric Florack says:

    @al-Ameda: yes, he was wrong.
    unsuprisingly, you are, as well.

    and by the way, i note with interest that the subject of comparing the leftsis response where, to the reax to the death of lady Thatcher. i dont recall there being nearly the tears shed, and the good Lady being diefied to this degree.

    Telling, that.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 23

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @Eric Florack:
    You all keep talking about Thatcher as if she accomplished anything like Mandela did…but you can’t give any examples . She, like every British PM, was an ally to the US.
    So?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 1

  35. C. Clavin says:

    Everyone should go to Floracks website and search the N-Word.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  36. Jim Henley says:

    @Eric Florack: It’s really simple. Thatcher was not as great a figure as Mandela. Not within her own country; not on the world stage. Mandela overcame greater odds. Mandela effected greater change. Neither accomplished what they accomplished alone – it’s not plausible, though the implication hangs out there, that Mandela was the only black resistance figure in South Africa who didn’t want to massacre and expropriate all the white people – but treating them like we treat football quarterbacks (too much credit; too much blame), we can see that Mandela clearly started with less and won more.

    Mandela also did significant (if mostly invisible to westerners) post-government service – search The Elders on your internet-machine – which Thatcher did not.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  37. KM says:

    In order for the jackasses of the world to admit that Mandela was (at the very least) a decent person, they would have to admit to two premises they just can’t seem to stand:

    1) someone who was not a white European male managed to change the world in a positive way they themselves were unable to do
    2) someone who had previous associations with a political belief system they abhor is not inherently evil.

    That’s not going to happen. Reference the fact that someone can be a good guy if they don’t fit my mold? Never! Let me talk about my manpain regarding the world not agreeing with me on this! Let me talk about how XYZ was better simply because I think they were and be as disrespectful as possible in the process!

    The only good that’s coming out of this exercise in juvenality is how it’s really highlighting the uncomfortable split between the few sane Republicans left and the utter bigots they’ve sold themselves to. Getting harder and harder to justify so you can look in the mirror…. and probably harder to sleep at night too.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 20 Thumb down 3

  38. pro-life says:

    Unfortunately, Nelson Mandela Signed Law Legalizing Unlimited Abortions
    http://www.lifenews.com/2013/12/06/unfortunately-nelson-mandela-signed-law-legalizing-unlimited-abortions/

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 25

  39. grumpy realist says:

    @pro-life: and so? Maybe he realized that forcing a woman to donate her body organs for 9 months to support something that is living purely off her bloodstream isn’t that great an idea. How would you like it if I kidnapped you and legally forced you to donate a kidney “because it will save a life”?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  40. grumpy realist says:

    Oh, and by the way, Doug–magnificant article. A round of applause.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  41. C. Clavin says:

    @pro-life:
    Can you name a political leader who is not pro-life? Who is thus anti- life?
    You, my friend, are anti- choice.
    Which you are free to be. But you shouldn’t mis-characterize others in order to aggrandize your own personal crusade.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  42. john personna says:

    In a harsh political sense, the flag lowering was “all win” for Obama.

    Reasonable people were fine with it, and unreasonable people highlighted their unreasonableness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  43. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    i note with interest that the subject of comparing the leftsis response where, to the reax to the death of lady Thatcher

    And I note that you are simply repeating what “The American Thinker” told you you think this morning…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  44. Rob in CT says:

    It is pretty amazing how utterly correct Newt Gingrich managed to be on this issue (also, too: Mitch McConnell). I can’t stand Newt Gingrich. But he was absolutely right, and argued his position well from a conservative perspective, at the time when it was a live issue. So a tip of the cap is due.

    As is so perfectly illustrated by Florack, one of the great failures of US thinkers in the 20th century was the assumption that the various anti-colonial movements who aligned themselves with communist powers were all actually devoted to communism, as opposed to looking for allies and finding none in The West. Some really were/became committed communists. Others were just looking for any port in a storm. Beyond that, perhaps it might have been worth considering what made communism sound appealing to anti-colonialists and how that could be remedied. But that was apparently too hard to think through.

    Also, there are communists who get into electoral politics and thus don’t wind up creating dictatorial regimes. Various Euro countries have or have had communist parties that participate in elections and whatnot. Occasionally they even win some power. There was no way of knowing for sure what a ANC government of South Africa would look like until it happened. However, the apartheid government of South Africa – an oppressive, violent regime – was an actual reality. To support the known over the unknown required imagining some really awful sh*t would go down. Some have brought up Mugabe, but I think that plays fast & loose with the timeline. Mugabe’s rule didn’t start out as a revenge-fest. At the time people were talking about releasing Mandela from prison, there was no reason to point to Mugabe and say “See! Slaughter of the White Man awaits!” But some did it anyway (because they always go there, as far as I can tell. It’s the deep-seated fear that someone might turn around and treat you as you’ve treated them, I guess).

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  45. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    and by the way, i note with interest that the subject of comparing the leftsis response where, to the reax to the death of lady Thatcher. i dont recall there being nearly the tears shed, and the good Lady being diefied to this degree.
    Telling, that.

    Telling? So you tell me, exactly what did Margaret Thatcher do that was anywhere near what Mandela did?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  46. pylon says:
  47. C. Clavin says:

    @pylon:
    It’s always fun to compare the Republucan version if recent history to what actually happened.
    The entire GOP worldview is based on fiction.
    It would be comical if it weren’t so damaging.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  48. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    All this kind of makes a guy wish he had four breasts and a like number of knees so he could do some serious beating and genuflecting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. al-Ameda says:

    @11B40:

    All this kind of makes a guy wish he had four breasts and a like number of knees so he could do some serious beating and genuflecting.

    Who would you like to beat – Ted Cruz? Ted Nugent? Ted Kennedy?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  50. Barry says:

    “I find it so odd that the same people that think background checks are the pathway to tyranny ”

    For THEM. For OTHERS, they have no problem with actual tyranny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  51. grumpy realist says:

    @Rob in CT: I find it amusing that the only political party that has actual grass-roots support in Japan are the communists.

    So-called communists in Japan are an interesting bunch. They end up getting elected as mayors of cities like Osaka and do a damn good job of running the place. Many many years ago they got disgusted both with Mao and with Lenin and said “we’re going to create a Third Way.” Which they did. (They’re about the only party in Japan that has actual policy statements and stick to them.)

    Interestingly enough, the political party that used to have the most discussions about Leninism were the Democratic Socialists….not to be confused with the Japanese Socialist Party.

    And then there’s the Liberal Democratic Party, which is Japan’s version of the Republican Party here in the US (although not as crazy) which has mostly been in power since the beginning and which is more a collection of factions than anything else.

    (Most of Japan is run by the bureaucrats and NGOs, with the politicians acting as comic relief.)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  52. Barry says:

    @Jim Henley: “And the men who locked him up were the usual sh;ts.”

    And the people who condemn him now supported and still support those sh*ts.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  53. John425 says:

    ” Nonetheless, it is this side of Mandela’s legacy that many American conservatives are choosing to focus on in the wake of his death.”

    You mean like how liberals gloss over these terrible affiliations and atrocities and focus on them good ol boys in the ANC? Some folks note that South Africa has gone backward since it became self-governing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  54. Jim Henley says:

    @John425:

    Some folks note that South Africa has gone backward since it became self-governing.

    Ah. Backward for whom, precisely?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  55. Rob in CT says:

    @John425:

    I rather doubt you can actually back that up.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  56. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @Barry:

    Duly noted, sir. I believe you are right.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  57. Buffalo Rude says:

    @Eric Florack:

    and by the way, i note with interest that the subject of comparing the leftsis response where, to the reax to the death of lady Thatcher. i dont recall there being nearly the tears shed, and the good Lady being diefied to this degree.

    Telling, that.

    Totally. Margaret Thatcher was not a very well-liked person outside of the right-wing of most polities. Telling, indeed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @John425:

    You mean like how liberals gloss over these terrible affiliations and atrocities and focus on them good ol boys in the ANC? Some folks note that South Africa has gone backward since it became self-governing.

    You mean like how liberals conservatives gloss over these terrible affiliations and atrocities and focus on them good ol boys in the ANC old apartheid-affiliated Whites Only regine? Some white folks note wistfully that it is their fervent hope that South Africa has gone backward since it became self-governing will return to the those happy days when the White ruling class legally and economically oppressed millions of non-White native South Africans.

    There, much more accurate.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 1

  59. jukeboxgrad says:

    KM:

    The only good that’s coming out of this exercise in juvenality is how it’s really highlighting the uncomfortable split between the few sane Republicans left and the utter bigots they’ve sold themselves to.

    Yes. And that “uncomfortable split” is vividly illustrated in the recent threads at National Review. An editorial says this (link):

    Mandela was by far the most revered statesman of our time. … His Nobel Peace Prize is richly deserved, and so is the gratitude of his country.

    One of the top-rated comments says this (link):

    I have lost any remaining respect for this trash of a website. National Review has long outlived its mission. Now it supports murdering marxist terrorist scumbags.

    And there’s also plenty of stuff like this (link):

    you cant have an egalitarian society with half the populations IQ’s averaging below 70. And that is the incontrovertible reality of sub Saharan African intelligence; two standard deviations below the white mean. …The Boers simply built a community on some empty space … They didn’t make them second class citizens nature made them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  60. Gustopher says:

    There’s a key difference between our founding fathers and Nelson Mandela, which really explains why it is appropriate for our founding fathers to take up arms, but not Mandela: our founding fathers were white.

    The general consensus in parts of the right are that guns are good, so long as the hand holding them is white. And this attitude infects the rest of the country — we lionize MLK for his non-violence, but we seldom mention Malcolm X.

    If Mandela fell in with communists, it’s because the communists were opposed to apartheid. Had the US been opposed to apartheid, and he chose the Evil Communists over us, then there might be something to complain about.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  61. C. Clavin says:

    @John425:
    And some people are convinced Christ…an mythical figure…is coming again.
    That don’t make it so.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  62. Pinky says:

    @Gustopher:

    If Mandela fell in with communists, it’s because the communists were opposed to apartheid. Had the US been opposed to apartheid, and he chose the Evil Communists over us, then there might be something to complain about.

    But the thing is, he didn’t really fall in with communists. As far as I know, Buthelezei, Biko, and Tutu didn’t either. This idea that communism was the only non-apartheid game in town is a terrible distortion. Those who chose communism are responsible for their choice. Those who didn’t are to be honored. Mandela flirted with it early in his life (a lot of people did), and he had to work with people at times who were communists, but he wasn’t a communist. Excusing black communists is an insult to those who fought apartheid without espousing something equally bad (Tutu’s description, not mine).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  63. Mr. Replica says:

    Save Saint Ronald!!!

    http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ronald-reagan-regretted-vetoing-sanctions-pro-apartheid-south-africa-article-1.1541558

    James Baker III, the late President’s Chief of Staff and Treasury Secretary, revealed the detail during a wide-ranging discussion Sunday about Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday.

    The revisionists are out to try and save Reagan’s flawless legacy.

    Reagan and Thatcher both supported the apartheid government in South Africa. It’s no wonder why conservatives today do not respect Mandela.
    Race may or may not have anything to do with it, but when Saint Ronnie and Thatcher were pro-apartheid, you obviously can’t go against them and call yourself a true conservative™.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  64. Eric Florack says:

    @al-Ameda:
    and you make that judgement based on…..

    …. what, exactly?

    @Rafer Janders:

    The apartheid government of South Africa advocated the use of violence against the black majority that it oppressed under the law. It’s also true that, while Mandela was in prison, the white minority government became even more violent and radical in the face of increased democratic opposition, including the murder of activists such as Steven Biko. Finally, it’s also true that in the final years before Mandela was released, the apartheid Afrikaners turned increasingly toward enacting terrorist-like tactics against blacks deemed to be insufficiently subservient to the white minority including most prominently the nation’s large population of Xhosa.

    All quite true.
    which leads me directly to the point made earlier. The ideals Mandela espoused and preached loudly were unabashed communism, which is the straightest form of big government power known to man. Does it make sense to aver that the answer to abuse of government is more power in the hands of government?

    interesting to me how many liberals can’t understand that to be a foundational flaw in his thinking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  65. al-Ameda says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @al-Ameda:
    and you make that judgement based on…..
    …. what, exactly?

    What judgment are you asking me about?
    Also, do you have any evidence that Mandela established a communist system of government in South Africa?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  66. Jim Henley says:

    @al-Ameda: You are blaming Bithead for his behavior when he’s only talking like this because of stupid MSNBC

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  67. C. Clavin says:

    My last comment was rightfully held for moderation.
    But anyone giving Florack any attention should go to his website and search the N-Word.
    This guy is a bigoted scumbag…and doesn’t deserve the bandwidth OTB gives him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  68. anjin-san says:

    @ bithead

    interesting to me how many liberals can’t understand that to be a foundational flaw in his thinking.

    True. We all remember the communist dictatorship he established when he took power. The gulags, the massacres of whites. The seizure of all guns and private property.

    Oh, wait…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  69. Jim Henley says:

    @C. Clavin: Seems like he, perhaps cleverly, let the domain lapse.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  70. C. Clavin says:
  71. Blue Galangal says:

    @C. Clavin:

    And some people are convinced Christ…an mythical figure…is coming again.
    That don’t make it so.

    I’m reminded of a history professor who, in response to a trolling comment by a student that “some people say history IS a social science,” said, “Some people are idiots.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  72. Socraticsilence says:

    If Limbaugh wants to talk about forgiveness, he should perhaps look at John Lewis whose ability to serve in the same Congress (if not the same Body) as men like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond (men who unlike say Robert Byrd remained proudly unreconstructed) with going Preston Brooks is a marvel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  73. Chili Dogg says:

    @grumpy realist: @grumpy realist:

    Grumpy realist wrote “and so? Maybe he realized that forcing a woman to donate her body organs for 9 months to support something that is living purely off her bloodstream isn’t that great an idea. How would you like it if I kidnapped you and legally forced you to donate a kidney ‘because it will save a life’?”

    You’re saying all women who become pregnant do so by coercion by other people? People are forcibly making all those women pregnant? None of their pregnancies were voluntary? Your analogy fails. I would not outlaw abortion, within limits, but I don’t think your argument works.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1