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Mandela the Communist Terrorist

While virtually everyone across the political spectrum in the US has responded to the death of Nelson Mandela with statements of praise, it’s clear that the American right is largely being disingenuous. Now that Mandela is a global hero, they say nice things about him; while he was alive, and even while he was in prison, they savaged him as a communist and a terrorist. And a lot of them still do, despite the public statements.

Ted Cruz, for example, posted a laudatory message on his Facebook page and was buried under a deluge of comments from his followers expressing their disappointment with him for praising a communist and a terrorist. Right-wing bloggers and news outlets have been repeating the same thing. It’s especially ironic that so many on the right are calling Nelson Mandela a terrorist because he advocated armed resistance to the white apartheid government of South Africa, a government that denied them all rights and all say in their own country, that kept them in perpetual poverty, that killed and tortured them on a daily basis. Meanwhile, many of the people screaming about him being a terrorist for his militant resistance to such oppression are demanding a “second American revolution” because we’re allowing gay people to get married and not be discriminated against and giving poor people access to health care.

Think about all of the minor inconveniences that the Christian right routinely calls “tyranny” and “persecution” and then ask them what they would have done if they were a black South African living under apartheid. What would you have done if you were denied the right to vote, herded into ghettos under armed guard, kept in abject poverty, enslaved to work in mining operations for little pay and brutalized on a daily basis? If armed struggle against the government doing those things is “terrorism,” then call me a terrorist. And call everyone who is calling Mandela that one too, because in the same situation they would have done the same thing.

I should also note that these same people make all kinds of excuses when you point out that the state of Israel was created at least partly by the acts of militant groups like the Irgun, which bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, killing almost 100 people. But call those people terrorists and the same people applying that label to Mandela would lose their minds over it.

One more level of irony: The same people who scream that we must have guns to protect us against our tyrannical government are calling Mandela a “terrorist” for advocating armed resistance to the astonishingly brutal apartheid government of South Africa. Remember, letting gay people get married and giving health insurance to poor people is commienazifascism that requires “second amendment remedies.” Denying the black majority of South Africa the right to vote, indeed any rights at all, torturing and killing them, using them as slaves in mining operations and dehumanizing them in every way possible? Oh, that’s not so bad. Only a “terrorist” would take up arms against that kind of government.

They also call him a communist, which is what they call virtually everyone who disagrees with them. And it’s true that he was closely allied with the South African Communist Party and that communist countries were supporters of the African National Congress. But this is primarily because the capitalist countries of the West were virtually unanimous in supporting the apartheid government because they wanted access to the minerals they were using virtual slave labor to procure in that country.

Cecil Rhodes, who owned many of those minds, said, “We must find new lands from which we can easily obtain raw materials and at the same time exploit the cheap slave labor that is available from the natives of the colonies. The colonies would also provide a dumping ground for the surplus goods produced in our factories.” And that’s exactly what they did, using black slave labor from South Africa to control 90% of the world’s diamond market and make unthinkable amounts of money from it.

In 1981, Ronald Reagan said he supported the South African government because it was “a country that has stood by us in every war we’ve ever fought, a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals.” Mandela had promised to nationalize the mines if the ANC ever overthrew the government (a promise he broke when he became president), so he had to be smeared as an evil communist and the South African government had to be supported.

Is it really any wonder that the people struggling against this vile government would accept support from the only ones who would offer it? If we had acted on the principles we proclaim so loudly and supported democracy, freedom and equality, the outcome might have been completely different. But we wanted the minerals they were using slaves to get, so to hell with those inconvenient principles. So we supported the government who committed the most brutal and barbaric acts imaginable on the black people under their control. What the government did to them was a thousand times more brutal, more common and more terroristic than what those allied with Mandela did. So what does it say about those who call him a terrorist while supporting the government that imprisoned him?

Cathleen O’Grady, who works with me at the Foundation Beyond Belief, is South African herself and she said something on my Facebook page about it that really nails it:

“Madiba wasn’t a saint. He was great in part because his involvement with militarism was a response to an unspeakable situation, and his response changed as the situation changed, always guided by reconciliation and non-racialism. He is beloved because he took up arms when they were needed, and laid them down when he could.”

Very well said.

Comments

  1. says

    Cecil Rhodes, who owned many of those minds,

    Perhaps you meant mines here?

    Remember, letting gay people get married and giving health insurance to poor people is commienazifascism that requires “second amendment remedies.” Denying the black majority of South Africa the right to vote, indeed any rights at all, torturing and killing them, using them as slaves in mining operations and dehumanizing them in every way possible? Oh, that’s not so bad.

    Well sure, it’s not like South Africa was oppressing white people, after all.

  2. eric says

    it’s true that he was closely allied with the South African Communist Party and that communist countries were supporters of the African National Congress. But this is primarily because the capitalist countries of the West were virtually unanimous in supporting the apartheid government because they wanted access to the minerals they were using virtual slave labor to procure in that country.

    AIUI someting similar happened with Castro. He started off as a revolutionary who shopped around for pretty much any foreign support for his cause. He went to the capitalist west first, but we opted to support the status quo (because it was lucrative for us), so then he turned to the communist regimes for support.

    Democracy is good at a lot of things, but one thing it’s really bad at seems to be putting principles or long-term interests above immediate self-interest in foreign policy.

  3. Artor says

    Don’t be coy Ed. You know exactly why it’s different when someone like Mandela takes up arms against brutal oppression. It has something to do with his albedo, of course. When a black man threatens a white man with violence, he is by definition a terrorist, no matter what the provocation.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    And call everyone who is calling Mandela that one too, because in the same situation they would have done the same thing.

    Nah, in those circumstances most of the teabaggers would either be quivering with fear or trying to uncle-tom their way to house-servant status by ratting on the troublemakers.

  5. matiibn says

    This post hits the nail squarely on the head. Thanks.

    The same applies north of the border. The neocon bastards in charge here are on board for a trip to the sunny climes for a Mandela memorial but dig a little and you will find that they vilified Mandela and the ANC until the handwriting was on the wall.

  6. says

    I hope it won’t be taken as an endorsement of rightwinger whinging to remind folks that members of the ANC did commit acts that fit any reasonable definition of terrorism (google Why Not Restaurant or Magoo’s Bar (an attack in Durban on June 14, 1986)). One can argue that if any cause did justify terrorism, it was the cause of Apartheid-era blacks–but the word “terrorism” shouldn’t be jettisoned just because the wrong people are throwing it about.

  7. laurentweppe says

    Is it really any wonder that the people struggling against this vile government would accept support from the only ones who would offer it?

    Now apply that logic to Syria where the secular rebels spent years begging the Western world for help while the arabian petromonarchies where moving their pawns forward.

  8. dingojack says

    Nelson Mandela (like ‘the Weathermen’) targeted infrastructure, avoiding as much as possible injuring people. Exactly how many people died because of the former?
    Now how many Iraqis died during the (unneeded) invasion of Iraq?
    Which is ‘terrorism’? Why or why not? Discuss
    Dingo

  9. says

    dingojack@9:

    A bunch of irrelevant tu quoques.

    Also, more than one ANC bombing (the one I mentioned for example) was clearly NOT planned with a view toward minimizing casualties.

  10. suttkus says

    Much of the American revolution was composed of terrorist actions, just ask any British patriot at the time, so we have a long history of white washing terrorism. Of course, we never stopped. We fire-bombed Dresden with the specifically stated goal of creating terror and demoralizing the German people. Of course, there was a war on, so clearly not an act of terrorism, despite, you know, directly causing terror as a goal.

    In the end, it’s very simple. Terrorism is what THEY do to us and our allies. Freedom Fighting is what our allies do to oppressors. See? Easy to tell apart.

  11. corporal klinger says

    @7@10 aaronbaker

    Are you saying that the black populationt of South Africa had no right to self defence?
    And if you think that the people of South Africa had a right to self defence, what means did they have to fight an ennemy with wast resources and no scrupels? A merciless white ethnic tyranny with the support from most of the so called “free world” ?
    Apartheid was an undeclared war against black and brown and not so white people. When there is an “official” war and the military of a country bombs civilians it’s collateral damage ( “sorry, we din’t meant to, just that we totally did and by the way shit happens” )
    When oppressed, humiliated, exploited slaves fight back it’s terrorism – I do not close my eyes to the innocent victims of such attacks, but what happened in SA was a war. And as in any goddam war it’s the innocent who suffer the most.

  12. says

    corporal klinger:

    Here’s what I think is the usual practice: a distinction gets drawn between A) assaults that kill civilians incidentally and B) assaults specifically directed against civilians and with the goal of bringing about a desired result by terrorizing civilians. The latter I think is what’s usually meant by “terrorism.” Of course it’s often difficult or impossible to be sure which of the two kinds of killing one is encountering. And, of course, the people committing the killing nearly always say they’re doing A rather than B. So, people often (quite understandably) wind up wondering whether there’s really any significant practical or moral distinction between the two kinds of assault. I think there is a genuine moral distinction (in other words, I don’t think efforts to distinguish the two are all just cant and bullshit); I think that B is worse, morally, than A, though I’m not sure how adequate my off-the-cuff musings about this belief would be to others here (it’s something I’d prefer to think about further before committing it to the Internets).

    That said, is B in my view always morally unacceptable? Since I tend to be a consequentialist in ethics, I’m hard-pressed to come up with an argument that it always IS morally unacceptable. I mean: given a sufficient magnitude to the evil that one is fighting, given the fact that terrorism does sometimes work–why shouldn’t it sometimes be allowable? But I find such acts so horrible, that I recoil nonetheless from that conclusion.

    Does that help? Probably not.

    Of course the black population of South Africa had a right of self-defense, but believing so doesn’t resolve the above problem.

  13. says

    Jonathangray #12
    Oh, wow, a bunch of pictures with no accompanying data. You sure do know how to make an argument. Dipshit.

    Incidentally:

    White people were the majority of the victims of these attacks, but others were also victims; in 2001 61% of farm attack victims were White. While this is disproportionate to the overall white population of South Africa (9.2%), it is in line with the demographics of the country’s landowners, of which whites are a strong majority.[13]

    Also, even if that wasn’t the case, hate crimes by private citizens are not even vaguely the same thing as legally mandated oppression and slavery.

  14. marcus says

    And, IIRC, Mandela was not an advocate of armed insurrection and violence against persons so much as he supported the ANC’s attacks against the infrastructure of the apartheid government.
    I know some people consider this as a small distinction but I do not.

  15. corporal klinger says

    @ aaronbaker #14

    “… But I find such acts so horrible, that I recoil nonetheless from that conclusion. …”

    As do I.
    Only that I do it in the warmth of my house, living in a european country with a functioning justice system, health care for everybody, where the police would protect me rather than beating the crap out of me, where I can feed my children and send them to school, where nobody is threatening me due to my skin colour, no law makes me a non-person and I can have reasonable hopes and plans for the future.

    But I understand your point. I just think that when humans create a de-humanizing, brutalizing, deeply unjust society, the results can only be brutal, unjust and bloody.

  16. freehand says

    jonathongray, do you have cites for each of those photos? Were they killings committed by civilians, and were they sanctioned by the revolutionaries led by Mandela and his people? How many of them were self-defense? How many blacks were brutally killed in the years during Apartheid? How many local people were killed by the British and Boers when they took over?

    If your point is that your decisions are made by data-free emotional responses, I am convinced.

  17. meg says

    I like the quote from Ms O’Grady. I also think it sums it up nicely.

    Who here would like to be judged on every action they have taken in life? I know I wouldn’t. Yet when he could have taken revenge (and we’ve seen that in Zimbabwe) he didn’t. I think that was the harder, and greater, act.

  18. Nick Gotts says

    jonathangray the racist scumbag@12
    Here we see just how oppressed white South Africans are: they are forced – forced I tell you – to accept an average income per person around eight times that of black South Africans. Since the ANC took over their average income has nearly doubled – what horrible oppression!

  19. jonathangray says

    freehand:

    jonathongray, do you have cites for each of those photos?

    Nope.

    Were they killings committed by civilians, and were they sanctioned by the revolutionaries led by Mandela and his people?

    My understanding is the murders of SA white farmers have mostly been the work of rogue civilians rather than professional revolutionaries. OTOH according to La Wik: “The ANC government has responded to the farm murders by disbanding the Commandos, a rural self-defence network which protected against and responded to attacks. The disbandment of the Commandos has been linked to the escalating level of farm attacks.”

    (“When Mandela goes, we will kill you whites like flies.” – ANC official)

    How many of them were self-defense?

    Presumably not the ones in which young children were butchered.

    How many blacks were brutally killed in the years during Apartheid?

    No idea. Perhaps instances of white civilians or security forces invading black people’s homes and indiscriminately shooting/stabbing/hacking/bludgeoning families to death were common in the apartheid era.

    How many local people were killed by the British and Boers when they took over?

    No idea. Don’t know how many Khoisan were killed by the Bantus either.

    If your point is that your decisions are made by data-free emotional responses, I am convinced.

    Funny how atheist spergs always talk about basing ethics on empathy.

  20. jonathangray says

    Nick Gotts:

    Here we see just how oppressed white South Africans are: they are forced – forced I tell you – to accept an average income per person around eight times that of black South Africans. Since the ANC took over their average income has nearly doubled – what horrible oppression!

    Wow, I had no idea. Can there be a more nauseating example of white privilege? They’ve got eight times as much money as blacks, yet still think they’re somehow entitled not to be hacked to death!

    Mind you, it’s troubling that they do have more money than blacks in the supposedly egalitarian rainbow nation. I’m pretty sure racism has something to do with it. Clearly we need to implement some serious redistribution — by any means necessary.

  21. Nick Gotts says

    jonathangray@26,

    You are a disgusting little shit. Your lie@12 was that:

    They’re working on it

    The “they” clearly referring to the South African state or government, since it was a response to:

    it’s not like South Africa was oppressing white people, after all.

    You’ve now admitted @24 that it was a lie – that these were criminal acts unsanctioned by the state or government. No-one has justified or defended these murders – while you routinely justify and defend murder, torture and slavery when practised by the Roman Catholic Church.

    Clearly we need to implement some serious redistribution — by any means necessary.

    Stop putting words in others’ mouths, you lying scumbag.

  22. jonathangray says

    Nick Gotts:

    Your lie@12 was that:

    They’re working on it

    The “they” clearly referring to the South African state or government, since it was a response to:

    it’s not like South Africa was oppressing white people, after all.

    You’ve now admitted @24 that it was a lie – that these were criminal acts unsanctioned by the state or government.

    Nice try, although “South Africa” is less specific than “the South African state or government”. In any case, while I conceded the savages who committed these bestial acts were most likely not acting in an official capacity, I also quoted a local ANC official advocating genocide (“we will kill you whites like flies”) and linked to a video of the South African president and president of the ANC belting out a rousing chorus of “Kill the Boer”. Add to that the SA government’s crackdown on white farmers’ self-defence groups and it sounds an awful lot like complicity to me.

    No-one has justified or defended these murders

    Has anyone disowned them? Have Mzukisi Gaba or Jacob Zume been summoned before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Have the UN or any foreign governments condemned them as (to use current parlance) “totally and utterly unacceptable”?

  23. Nick Gotts says

    No “South Africa” is not less specific than “the South African state or government”, liar. I am certainly not going to defend that shitbag Zuma (Gaba is a nobody, and it’s telling that a vile remark he made sometime before 2000 is still being trotted out by racist scum like you), but the claim that “South Africa” is “working on” oppressing whites is a lie, and you know it. The ANC has been in power nearly 20 years and whites, as I showed, are far better off economically than they were in 1994.

  24. jonathangray says

    No “South Africa” is not less specific than “the South African state or government”

    Oh yes it is.

    I am certainly not going to defend that shitbag Zuma

    I didn’t ask you to. I asked whether any official SA or international voice had condemned him.

    racist scum like you

    I’m not racist by any reasonable definition. (If I were, why would I bother denying it? To make you think better of me?)

    The ANC has been in power nearly 20 years and whites, as I showed, are far better off economically than they were in 1994.

    And thousands of them have been murdered in that time.

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