Thoughts on Mandela


With the memorial to the life great South African leader and civil rights leader comes questions about who this man was and what it was he actually stood for. From the Right there have been attacks on the man who has been pilloried and demonized by the likes of Ronald Reagan and James Buckley, Jr. He is denounced for the same evils the conservatives see in their own society.

That is to be expected and does not bother me. What does bother me are some of the assumptions made about the beliefs and acts of Mandela. It bothers me that Mandela is attacked for being a “communist” when, a. he was a democratic socialist at best and was much more of a theoretical Marxist and b. it is assumed, as it always is in the US press, popular culture, and government, that being a communist is essentially a bad thing.

Another issue. Mandela is attacked for being “violent” and “anti-white”. a. of course he was violent at times, he was in the middle of a civil war against a better armed and better supported rival who wanted him dead. Conservatives love figures like this when they are named Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis. b. if your foe is universally white and you acknowledge this fact and combat them this is NOT racism, this is telling the truth. It is the perverse trope of “reverse racism” rearing its ugly head once more. Conservatives on the contemporary US political scene project theirs fears and concerns onto every event and onto ever problem or person that appears to deviate in any way from their philosophy.

Just some thoughts.


2 thoughts on “Thoughts on Mandela

  1. I completely agree with your points of his political stance and his stance on violence. I’m not sure I understand your point about the racist issue, though. I’m taking your point to mean that the enemy he was fighting happened to include exclusively white members – that no black people were associated with the group he was against – and so he claimed to be against white people because of this correlation. I would consider this a generalization on his part, and a poor one at that. Granted, I don’t know much about Mandela, and plan on letting all the hype over his passing to pass itself before I really start to study on his life and impact on the world. But to assume that because the leadership or the majority of those ‘on the other side of the war’ or argument or whatever, are of a specific race, creed, or what-have-you, and so make a generalized claim against that specific kind of person because of it backfires in two ways. 1) If there are people of other races, creeds, etc. who are members of your enemy group, your argument against them is lost because of your generalization. 2) To call out all people of that race or creed or whatever because people of that race or creed dominate your enemies ranks is unfounded. Not all white people were against his stance and his fight, and I highly doubt that all the people who were his enemy were white. If he actually believed that, “[his] foe [was] universally white,” then I would say that he was racist. After all, the definition of racism is essentially to generalize one’s hate of someone onto all those who share the same skin color.

    And again, this is not me calling him racist. Like I said, I don’t know the man’s history or his stance on other people. I’m saying that, by your description, he would be a racist. And certainly he may have good reason to feel that way about white people, but that doesn’t change the fact that such a stance is racist.

    • nme16 says:

      I think you may have misread my statement about him or a misstated it…the point I was trying to make was that Mandela’s ENEMIES claimed he was racist because he fought against a group of all white oppressors. Mandela himself worked with many white activists and freedom fighters. He was far from a racist. Thank you for your comment and thoughts!

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