Friday, December 06, 2013


This may be a little strange.  Just got home from minor surgery and am a bit off, as it were.  Fortunately my friend Bill Berkowitz has written a column that I can use here without any further ado.

Froom BuzzFlash.

The Conservative Movement’s Long-Time Hate Affair With Nelson Mandela

MandelaVotingLast night, it was difficult to cut through the fog of reaction from current day conservatives to the death of Nelson Mandela. However, despite the kind words and the tributes, it should never be forgotten that the conservative movement in this country took great pains to condemn and demonize Mandela and the African National Congress, doing all they could to undermine the economic boycott of South Africa and the anti-apartheid movement.
Nelson Mandela and his comrades with the African National Congress were not always the toast of the town, especially in Washington, D.C.
President Ronald Reagan, who placed the ANC on the U.S. terror list in the 1980s (a designation that wasn't removed until 2008), labeled the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 as "immoral" and "utterly repugnant." Instead, the Reagan Administration adopted "a position a position of constructive engagement towards South Africa." The Nation's Sam Kleiner reported in early July.
"Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Chester Crocker pushed for expanded trade with Johannesburg under the belief that it was a strong ally in the Cold War. While divestment activists urged the United States to isolate the South African regime, the Reagan administration was pushing for more trade and engagement."
In 1985, Rep. Dick Cheney voted against a congressional resolution calling for the release of Mandela and the recognition of the African National Congress. North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms "turned his back during Mandela's visit to the U.S. Capitol."
The Religious Right in this country -- and the Rev. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson in particular -- were steadfast in its support of apartheid as well as counter-revolutionary movements in Angola and Mozambique. "The liberal media has for too long suppressed the other side of the story in South Africa," he said. "It is very important that we stay close enough to South Africa so that it does not fall prey to the clutches of Communism."
"South Africa is torn by civil unrest, instigated primarily by Communist-sponsored people who are capitalizing on the many legitimate grievances created by apartheid, unemployment and policy confrontations," Falwell said.
David John Marley noted in Pat Robertson: An American Life that Robertson said the ANC was "led by communists and was hostile to Israel" and "far too radical an element to ever work with," while "his campaign literature made similar claims for the need to support the white government."
In an infamous segment on "60 Minutes," the Institute on Religion and Democracy excoriated the World Council of Churches (WCC) over its support for Mandela. The John Birch Society called Mandela "a communist terrorist thug."
People for the American Way's RightWingWatch reported that "Even in 1998, Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly lumped Mandela together with notorious dictators."
The Nation's Kleiner noted that "Republican power brokers such as Grover Norquist, Jeff Flake and Jack Abramoff all launched their careers in the anti-divestment campaign, seeking to keep trade open with apartheid South Africa."
Abramoff, "now a disgraced former lobbyist convicted of fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion, got much of his start from his work with South Africa," Kleiner pointed out. "Abramoff visited the country following his term as National Chair of the College Republicans in 1983 and met with pro-apartheid student groups linked to the South Africa's Bureau of Security Services. In 1986, he opened the International Freedom Foundation. Ostensibly a think tank, it was later revealed as a front group for the South African Army as part of 'Operation Babushka' meant to undermine Nelson Mandela's international approval. The group had over '30 young ideologues in offices on G Street in Washington, Johannesburg, London and Brussels' working on propaganda in support of the South African government."
Grover Norquist got involved with the pro-South Africa movement and visited the country in 1985 for a "Youth for Freedom Conference," sponsored by South African businesses. According to Kleiner, Norquist said, "The left has no other issue [but apartheid] on campus. Economic issues are losers for them. There are no sexy Soviet colonies anymore." Norquist later went to Angola – a country torn apart by the murderous actions of Jonas Savimbi, a leader much admired by U.S. conservatives.
According to Kleiner, "Norquist became a ghost-writer for Savimbi's essay in Policy Review," then a publication of the Heritage Foundation. "When he returned to Washington, he was greeted in conservative circles as a 'freedom fighter,' and he proudly placed an 'I'd rather be killing commies' bumper sticker on his brief case."
In death, some in the conservative movement are still throwing weaponized darts at Mandela. After Mandela's death, Gregory Hood wrote in American Renaissance: "The truth is, the saintly visage of Mandela—all crinkly eyes and warm smiles—conceals a violent past as a terrorist."
Nelson Mandela believed in reconciliation. He believed that forging a way forward was more important than dwelling on past grievances. That being said, I don't think he'd want anyone to forget the history of apartheid, the struggle against it, and role that conservatives in the U.S. played.
(Photo: Paul Weinberg)


Dan said...

ok... Mandela was also one of my heroes growing up in the 80s. But can we reflect his legacy without hyping him? I mean, he wasn't a champion of the working class, indeed he helped to continue economic exploitation of the poor in South Africa. The difference was that now, black South Africans could join the ranks of the white bourgoisie and exploit the masses to.

Let us use his death to critically analyse the current situation of South Africa. Police Terror, Slums, Loss of Perspecitves and an ANC waging war on the working class and the poor.

To support my claim i add here an excerpt of the "freedom charter" to which drafting mandela was involved.

"The breaking up and democratisation of these monopolies will open up fresh fields for the development of a prosperous non-European bourgeois class. For the first time in the history of this country the non-European bourgeoisie will have the opportunity to own in their own name and right mills and factories and trade and private enterprise will boom and flourish as never before"

For those of you interested in this aspect, check out the Marikana Massacre that occured last year, and check out who owns a company called Aurora Empowerment Systems, running a mine at Grootvlei

Oread Daily said...

PERHAPS, you have read the numerous articles about present day South Africa and the ANC that I have done in Scission. There have been numerous ones. Yes, present day South Africa is more than just a mess. The struggle today of the multitude in South Africa is an amazing one and a difficult one. It can serve as an example for many of us, especially for those of us who are not enamored with vanguard parties. Again, I have written numerous pieces on that struggle in Scission.

However, to decide that the time to do another one is on the day the man who was as responsible as anyone for helping to bring down apartheid, seems...well, ridiculous to me...and bringing down and ending apartheid is no small matter, in my book.

Perhaps, you also might have noticed that the article by my friend which I linked here was hardly some piece designed to turn the man into a god. It was something else entirely. Consequently, I am not clear why you have posted your comment HERE.

But whatever, no mind.

Mandela was a revolutionary hero, who spent decades in prison, Dan. I do honor his memory.