The Enemies of Mandela
You can calculate the worth of a man by the number of his enemies - Gustave Flaubert
Usually I would let a couple days go by before writing something like this. But I wanted to get this on the record before Sunday when so often history is rewritten on the talk shows, and behind the pulpit.
Mandela will be remembered as a hero, as one of the great leaders of any race, or from any country – and rightly so. Many people more well-informed and personally attached to this great man will write his obituaries.
In this place, I want to document the ones that worked against him and his fight.
Prime Ministers David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher
Cameron was a member of the Federation of Conservative Students during his years at Oxford; same organization which at the same time was printing badges, t-shirts and flags with ‘Hang Mandela’ on them. Later, in 1989, Cameron visited South Africa at a time when western nations were deciding on economic sanctions to cripple the apartheid system. His visit however was part of a lobby interest group that sought to influence legislators against those very sanctions, in support to the South African government. Let it be said that at the same period, the UK, then governed by the iron fist of one Margaret Thatcher, also deceased this year, considered Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’ carrying ‘anti-democratic’ actions. [written by Sarah Kay]
Then Congressman Dick Cheney voted time and time again against the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. He considered the ANC a terrorist organization then – “The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization,” Cheney said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.” [Huffpo] He has gone on to say that Mandela ‘mellowed.’ Well Dick, some people act ‘hyper’ when they’re being oppressed. But you wouldn’t know that, would you.
The US State and Homeland Security Depts up until 5 years ago
It wasn’t until 2008 that Mandela and his party (ANC) were taken off of the Terrorist Watch List – never mind that Mandela won the Nobel Peace Price fifteen years before.
Ronald Reagan, who had an extremely long history of being against any sort of legislation that would give rights to minorities, not only added the ANC and Mandela to the Terrorist Watch list, but vetoed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986. It took Congress a 2/3rd majority vote to overturn it. It should be noted that every Senator that voted against the act was a Republican. The U.S. under Reagan also blocked an “UN Security Council resolution that would have imposed sanctions on the apartheid regime and approved a $1.1 billion IMF loan to South Africa.” [from a must read piece in The Nation]
To the shock of probably NO ONE at all, the CIA had a role in the capture of Nelson Mandela by the apartheid South African government. This from the NY Times “A retired South African intelligence official, Gerard Ludi, was quoted in the report as saying that at the time of Mr. Mandela’s capture, the C.I.A. had put an undercover agent into the inner circle of the African National Congress group in Durban.”
The Jerry’s – Falwell and Prevo
For those who don’t follow Alaskan Hate Speech, Jerry Prevo is Alaska’s answer to Jerry Falwell (something that he’d take as an honor) [You should read John Arronno's excellent piece on Prevo] . Prevo and Falwell went on a trip to South Africa, and returned convinced that the ANC, Desmond Tutu and Mandela were communists. While Prevo called for the end of apartheid after his church was protested, saying, “This is the first time I’ve gotten in trouble for doing something a black told me to do.” He said that divestment would hurt blacks more than help them. He also did absolutely nothing after that to stop the apartheid.
Luckily, these men lost, and Nelson Mandela will be remembered for the great man he was – and not the names and slurs that those against the struggle threw at him.
The AlaskaCommons’ always excellent Human Rights columnist Joshua Aultman Spring has one of the best remembrance pieces I’ve seen published today – I can’t recommend it enough - Nelson Mandela: Man Between Worlds.
*Cameron/Thatcher text was written by Sarah Kay.