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.