IREHR Says Remember Mandela, Biko and the Liberation Movement that Toppled Apartheid.
While world leaders, religious clerics and ordinary people remembered and commemorated Nelson Mandela after his recent death, white nationalists and the far right once again found themselves on the other side of decency and democratic rights. A quick survey shows how.
Some conservative groups with long histories of opposition to the end of apartheid regime in South Africa rushed the join the chorus of praise. In doing so, they acted as if their decades of opposition to human rights could be easily forgotten.
On Mandela’s death, the National Review wrote that “the world has lost a great man” while the Heritage Foundation called him “A Symbol of Compassion and Equality.” Neither group chose to acknowledge the error of their previous stances.
Take, for instance, the long-standing position on Mandela at the National Review. After Mandela and other ANC leaders were sentenced to life in prison, the magazine commented that “The South African courts have sentenced a batch of admitted terrorists to life in the penitentiary, and you would think the court had just finished barbecuing St. Joan, to hear the howls from the Liberal press.” The following year, the magazine published a column by Russell Kirk contending that democracy in South Africa “would bring anarchy and the collapse of civilization” and the government “would be domination by witch doctors (still numerous and powerful) and reckless demagogues.” The magazine often editorialized in favor of the Apartheid regime. Even as late as 1985, National Review founder William F. Buckley was arguing that Mandela belonged in jail and that ANC call for one-man one-vote was “a fanatical abstraction of self-government that not even the United States tolerates institutionally.”
For its part, the Heritage Foundation actively opposed the 1986 anti-apartheid act, and four years later when Mandela was released from prison they continued to call him a terrorist.
Unlike these established conservative institutions, Tea Partiers, militiamiesters, white nationalists, and others on the hard right rushed to smear Mandela, and to downplay Apartheid and his role in ending it. Some even celebrated his death.
When Tea Party favorite Senator Ted Cruz posted to Facebook that “Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe,” his supporters went ballistic. They flooded the page with comments about Mandela being a racist, a terrorist, and a communist.
The vitriol didn’t just appear out of thin-air, spontaneously. The attacks on Mandela were recirculated and incubated by many different hard right groups, including several of the national Tea Party groups.
Over at FreedomWorks, there’s a re-print of a WorldNetDaily article which says, “Nelson Mandela was a radical Marxist and a firm advocate of abortion, pornography, homosexuality and legalizing prostitution.” There’s also another piece warning of “white genocide” in South Africa. FreedomWorks members commented that Mandela should “rot in Hell.”
The Patriot Action Network featured a music video called “Mandela Song” which calls him a “rat” and “scum.”
On the 1776 Tea Party website, they’ve also repeated the slanders against Mandela. Upon the announcement that President Obama would travel to South Africa for the Mandela funeral, several members regurgitated more of the “back to Africa” birther racism.
To white nationalists, Mandela wasn’t just a terrorist, he symbolized their greatest fear–the end of white rule. They’ve spent years painting Mandela’s post-Apartheid South Africa as a dystopian hell-scape for white people.
The white nationalist publication, American Renaissance, encapsulated this deeply-seated hatred of Mandela in a December 5 piece concluding that, “the legacy of Mandela is the slow genocide of the people who turned South Africa into a First-World nation in the midst of the Dark Continent. Though some whites will be suffered to live, work, and die for the benefit for their black masters, whites have no future in South Africa, and what few opportunities they have for even a decent life are shrinking every day. Mandela represented exploitation under the guise of magnanimity, murder in the name of democracy, genocide with a smile. We should mourn the old terrorist’s death only because he didn’t live to see his destructive work undone on the day when the Boers—and the rest of us—are once again free.”
Not to be outdone, Christian Kerodin, the man behind the planned Idaho militia compound known as the Citadel chimed in with the most graphic and violent eulogy for the Noble Peace Prize recipient, “Any Communist who dies of natural causes at 95 years of age is an insult to every scrap of goodness in the world. Fugg’him, with a chainsaw, sideways. Every single Commie f-ck that dies a painful death with oozing filth seeping from his walking corpse is a reason for a party and a smile on my face. Any chemist who can develop a toxin to kill Commie trash should earn eternal gratitude on Earth, and special treatment in Heaven. F-ck a Commie. Filth. Genetic filth. May rats feast on their rotting guts for weeks before they die. Alone. In pain.”[edited for profanity]
For IREHR’s part, as we remember Mr. Mandela, we also recall with honor the memory of Stephen Biko, and we mourn the losses at Sharpeville and elsewhere, and celebrate the liberation movement and its supporters that persevered over decades’ time and at great loss.