Personal Liberty Poll
More than 100 world leaders gathered in Johannesburg to attend memorial services for Nelson Mandela, the first black president of that country. None received more attention or got a more enthusiastic reception than Barack Obama, the first black President of this country.
All the hoopla led to an orgy of fawning media coverage for both men. But in all of it, even in the comments and commentaries in what passes for the conservative press, no one drew attention to what seems to me to be the most glaring difference between the two men:
- For all of his adult life, Nelson Mandela was outspoken about his core beliefs. For most of them, he was a Marxist revolutionary, committed to the violent overthrow of his government.
- Obama, on the other hand, has never been candid with us about his past associations or activities. Even the grades he received in college are guarded as a deep, dark secret. And the less said about his communist and terrorist associations back then, the better.
As a candidate for President, Obama promised to be a great uniter. Instead, he has turned out to be one of the most divisive presidents this country has ever seen. What a contrast with what happened in South Africa!
But while Mandela is being held as a saint today, let’s not forget that for most of his adult life he was an outspoken Marxist revolutionary. He openly advocated the use of violence against the government of South Africa. When he tried to implement his beliefs by blowing up a hospital, he was arrested, tried and sentenced to life in prison.
At one point, P.W. Botha, then the president of the country, said he would release Mandela from prison if he would renounce the use of violence. Mandela refused. He ended up spending 27 years in prison and was finally released in 1990.
It’s worth noting that for all of the years that he was in prison, Amnesty International never tried to win Mandela’s freedom. The reason was simple: The organization noted in 1985 that it would work only for the release of “prisoners of conscience” who “have not used or advocated violence.” And the group explained, “Amnesty International does not believe that this definition applies to Nelson Mandela.”
By the way, it wasn’t just whites who were the targets of violence by Mandela’s organization, the African National Congress. No, many of the victims were blacks who refused to support the group and its Marxist goals. One of their favorite terrorist tactics against their fellow blacks was “necklacing.” This was when tires were placed around a victim’s neck, filled with gasoline, then set on fire. It was a horrible and gruesome way to die, intended to terrorize any black who considered cooperating with the white “enemy.”
Winnie Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s wife at the time, was one of the most vociferous leaders of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. She gloated about the effectiveness of this weapon of terror and intimidation. “With our necklaces,” she bragged, “we will liberate this country.”
That was the background when Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990. Like many other anti-communists at the time, I was frightened that he would call for even more violence in that beleaguered country. But to my amazement, the opposite occurred. Rather than demand revenge against the whites who had ruled the country for so long, Mandela advocated forgiveness and reconciliation.
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” Mandela said later, “I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” While he led the negotiations that brought a peaceful end to segregation in the country, he urged his fellow blacks to forgive the white government that had imprisoned him and discriminated against them.
In 1994, four years after getting out of prison, Mandela was elected as the first black president of South Africa. Happily, Mandela refused to implement the Marxist goals he had advocated for so long. There would be no massive seizure of the property of whites, no sweeping nationalization of the industries in the country.
Where many feared even more bloodshed and acrimony, Mandela called for cooperation and peaceful coexistence between whites and blacks. I confess that I was astonished by the change.
Nothing I’ve seen captured this transformation better than the movie “Invictus.” Morgan Freeman played Mandela in this 2009 film, which was directed by Clint Eastwood. Matt Damon portrayed Francois Pienaar, the white South African who was the captain of the country’s rugby team.
In one memorable scene, Mandela walks onto the playing field before a crucial contest gets underway. He’s wearing a green and gold jersey bearing Pienaar’s number on the back. The stadium, which is filled with mostly white spectators, roars its applause.
Rory Steyn, one of Mandela’s black bodyguards, described the event and its effect on the public: “That crowd, which was almost exclusively white… started to chant his name. That one act of putting on a No. 6 jersey did more than any other statement in bringing white South Africans and Afrikaners on side with new South Africa.”
Contrast that with the disgusting scene from Johannesburg this week, when our President went out of his way to shake hands with Raul Castro, the murderous dictator of communist Cuba. Obama even gave a slight half-bow as he did so.
That was too much for Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla), who declared: “I came here when I was a small child with my family fleeing the aggression of the communist tyranny in Cuba, and to see the President of the United States shake hands with a sadistic murderer, which is what Raul Castro is and what he represents, it is nauseating.”
Ironically, in his eulogy for Mandela, Obama pointed out that “around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs.” Nowhere is this truer than in the communist dictatorship just 90 miles from our shore. Too bad our President didn’t keep this mind — and avoid giving Fidel Castro’s brother a photo op that is sure to become what Ros-Lehtinen described as “a propaganda coup for the tyrant.”
I have no problem with all the praise and plaudits being heaped on Mandela. Especially when I consider the bloodbath that would have torn his country apart, had he not rejected his previous revolutionary rhetoric.
I’m not foolish enough to believe that the same thing will happen with the covert revolutionary who now occupies the White House. Since we can’t trust him, we will have to contain him. Happily, the Constitution of the United States spells out exactly how to do that.
We can take a big step in the right direction a year from now, by replacing four or five liberal Senators with some battle-hardened conservatives. It won’t be easy. But it can be done. In fact, it must be done, if we are going to take our country back.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.