Take a moment to think of Nelson Mandela. But think as well of the Reagan era, and earlier. Think of the time when saying a kind word about the imprisoned South African was a sure way to be labeled a communist. Remember how often our newspaper pundits told us that if Mandela ever ran in a truly fair South African election, that country would never know democracy again: "One man, one vote -- one time." Remember how often we were assured that allowing Mandela out of prison would inevitably lead to Soviet control of his country. Remember the prophecies of a bloodbath of whites.
Give a thought, in short, to our nation's inglorious history of using anti-communism as the great excuse for racism.
I'm happy to see that other writers have noticed the right's "apartheid amnesia." See here
. The conservative movement has benefited enormously from its ability to hide its history from ignorant younger recruits. From Joan Walsh's piece:
The Heritage Foundation was a clubhouse for apartheid backers; as late as 1990, when Mandela had been freed from prison and traveled to the U.S., Heritage suggested he was a terrorist, “not a freedom fighter.”
As late as 2003, the National Review attacked Mandela for opposing the Iraq war. His “vicious anti-Americanism and support for Saddam Hussein should come as no surprise,” NR wrote, “given his longstanding dedication to communism and praise for terrorists.”
Mandela was called a "terrorist" because he did not renounce violence in the struggle against apartheid. It has always amused me to see gun-owning American rightists, dressed in cammo gear and drilling with militias, react with horror at the thought of darker-skinned Third World people fighting oppression by "any means necessary." The Gandhi thing is for them
, never for us