Getting Mandela Wrong: When A Conservative Juiceboxer Attacks.

There are many ways to react to the death of Nelson Mandela.

Personally I muted “Mandela” on my Twitter feed because I think that’s about the worst possible way to react to someone’s death and most people posting on it were simply trying to insert themselves into a larger event.

Others unfortunately decide to write a post entitled “Communist Icon Nelson Mandela Dead at 95“.

This was the path David Swindle (I originally misspelled Mr. Swindle’s name. I apologize and regret the error) of PJ Media went down.

Swindle apparently thinks the most important facts to consider upon Mandela’s death are stories of Mandela’s deeds as a member of the African National Congress’ armed resistance to South Africa’s apartheid regime. This choice is a stupid one.

Yes, many of the mainstream remembrances of Mandela will gloss over the man’s earlier years but that doesn’t give anyone licence to gloss over the much more important later years.

All people’s lives are complex and this is especially true of people who play on the largest stages of all. Their stories will be complex and often contradictory. Hacks will focus on either solely the existence of contradictions or ignore them entirely.

Yes, Mandela was a Communist who used violence in an attempt to overthrow one of the most vicious and ugly political regimes in history. The nature of the regime Mandela fought does not excuse the tactics he used but it does place them in context.

And context and appreciation for complexity are what Swindle piece is sorely lacking.

It’s hard to imagine that one could write a piece attacking others for leaving out important details of Mandela’s story while omitting  the word “apartheid” in one’s own story.

Swindle includes a video of Mandela singing the ANC anthem which has lyrics that speak of killing white oppressors. Inconveniently, though plan for all to see, is that there are whites with Mandela singing the same words. It’s clear that the song has a specific cultural and political meaning in that context that Swindle either doesn’t understand or simply ignores.

This leads to the most glaring omission in Swindle’s telling of the story…if Nelson Mandela really wanted whites dead he could have had them killed by the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands. If Mandela really was simply a communist thug he would have done what communist thugs have done from day one…have their enemies rounded up and killed. He would have used the anger of his followers (in this case perfectly legitimate) and divided the country to rule unchecked by fear and force.

Like countless post-colonial African despots, Mandela could have bought off his supporters by stealing the resources of those he replaced to enrich himself and his followers. He could have done what almost all men who have nearly unlimited political power have done with it…kept it and ruthlessly used it.

But he didn’t.

In the end the story of Mandela is that he wasn’t like almost all men. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t without sin (almost no one in South Africa was). However, he changed and grew. When he lacked the power to change his country he used violent means to attempt to get it. But once he had the power, he eschewed violence. That is not the typical tale of history. He did not crush those who had crushed him and his people. Instead he recognized that no one would benefit from that and more to the point, it was morally reprehensible to him to do so.

Mandela was a complex and imperfect man but when he faced the choice of violence on an awesome scale, a violence he could have turned lose with a single sentence, he said no. He used the moral authority that had been invested in him not simply to sweep away a racist regime but also to control his former comrades, including his own wife, who wanted to change South Africa with blood.

That is the man the world rightly mourns the passing of.

The subheading of Swindle ‘s piece includes a quote from Andrew Breitbart, “Truth isn’t mean. It’s truth.” That’s absolutely right. The problem is Swindle’s piece isn’t the truth. It’s simply contrarian nonsense that lacks any appreciation for history, complexity and in the end, the truth.

So yes, let us remember that Mandela was a violent Communist in his early years. It only makes the transformation he underwent and what he was able to accomplish in his later years all the more remarkable.

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About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on December 6, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 36 Comments.

  1. This and Deroy Murdock’s post at the Corner are the 2 best posts on Mandela by conservatives that I’ve seen.

  2. When you look at what the blacks in S. Africa faced with apartheid the violence was somewhat understandable. Upon his release from prison, the steps he took at reconciliation were more than remarkable. A lesser man would have been driven by anger, he seemed driven by a love of his country.

  3. Well said, and something I’ve been thinking over for the past few hours myself.

  4. “Inconveniently, though plan for all to see, is that there are whites with Mandela singing the same words. It’s clear that the song has a specific cultural and political meaning in that context that Swindell either doesn’t understand or simply ignores.”

    I guess you never heard of self-loathing jews? Or do you choose to “simply ignore” that which doesn’t support this ridiculous thesis?

  5. Two cheers for Mandela?

  6. How big a piece of shit do you have to be for Amnesty International to think prison is the right place for you? Well, how tall was Nelson Mandela?

  7. Zombie John Gotti

    My main complaint with the coverage and the laudatory comments is that the glossing over of his earlier life is the implied (and sometimes stated) notion that Mandela was unjustly imprisoned simply because of his opposition to apartheid. He committed more than enough crimes to be sent to prison, although, perhaps, not for as long as he was. His later deeds are commendable and should become his legacy. Let’s just not make him out to be some kind of a moral hero.

  8. What is grating is the apotheosis of Mandela, ignoring of any negatives, as well as using Apartheid as a blanket justification for much of what the ANC did, particularly to other Blacks.

  9. What you say is so, a person’s life must be judged in full and Mandela’s early years must be weighed with the later.

    But for some reason no one speaks of the gravest mark against him. While he helped achieve a measure of reform in his own country, a bloody tyrant arose in the neighboring country and Mandela said and did nothing. Mugabe was and is as bad or worse than the apartheid government of South Africa.

  10. South Africa has had one of the worst ethnic cleansings by percentage after the fall of apartheid. Whites suffer enormous amounts of targeted violence, have had lands and money stolen by the government and transferred at random to blacks (which frequently don’t even use or live on the lands they’re given), and over 2/3 of the white population has left. It was not a good or peaceful transition. So, there’s Mandela’s legacy.

  11. elladeon, it is a shared legacy.

    Life is not so simple as the guilty – nor those who lived with their not so veracious ignorance- are held up for punishment. World history is replete with sacrificial lambs.

    What I will remember about Mandela, when it was turn, he did ‘scorch and burn’. Ignoscency made him a great man, but like all, he had faults.

  12. I agree completely with your assessment. Other than George Washington, what other leader of a revolution transitioned to a benevolent statesman and then voluntarily walked away from power? It is a very short list. Mandela was indeed a great man

  13. Question for conservatives: Why does the fact that Nelson Mandela did some bad things destroy his overall legacy, but people like George Washington get a free pass for owning slaves?

  14. “Question for conservatives: Why does the fact that Nelson Mandela did some bad things destroy his overall legacy, but people like George Washington get a free pass for owning slaves?”

    Washington owned slaves during a period when everyone who could, did so. It was considered by many an unpleasant necessity. In no way does that excuse it but, at the time, it was the norm. Yet Washington never advocated the murder of innocent slaves or of anyone else, for any reason. The same cannot be said for Mandela, if for no other reason for standing by his wife, a notorious murderer.

    If you were unable to see that much of a difference between the two men before you posted your absurd question, the juicebox mentioned up thread must be yours.

  15. During the pre-Revolutionary years, Washington’s views toward slavery were [as far as the record reveals] conventional, reflecting those of a typical Virginia planter of his time. He undoubtedly shared the “engrained sense of racial superiority” so common among white Virginians and did not emotionally identify with the slaves’ plight. There is an extant letter from Washington [1766] that leaves a flavor of the nature of the institution and his rather routine acceptance of it.

    “Sir: With this letter comes a Negro (Tom) which I beg the favour of you to sell, in any of the Islands you may go to, for whatever he will fetch, and bring me in return for him: one hhd of best molasses, one of best Rum, one barrel of Lymes if good and cheap, … and the residue, much or little in good ole spirits…That this Fellow is both a rogue and a Runaway…I shall not pretend to deny. But . . . he is exceedingly healthy, strong and good at the Hoe… which gives me reason to hope he may, with your good management sell well (if kept clean and trim’d up a little when offered for sale… [I] must beg the favor of you (lest he should attempt his escape) to keep him hand-cuffed till you get to Sea.”

    He did set his slaves free upon his death – trying to cover his bases?

    https://chnm.gmu.edu/courses/henriques/hist615/gwslav.htm

  16. “Yes, Mandela was a Communist who used violence in an attempt to overthrow one of the most vicious and ugly political regimes in history.”

    Have you read much history, Drew? Or are you just absent-mindedly regurgitating the specious nonsense your Commie professors fed you? I don’t recall any South African gulags. The killing fields were in Cambodia, not South Africa. Mao did not torture and murder millions of South Africans, and Che Guevara didn’t stand any South Africans against his execution wall. North Korea’s death camps aren’t run by Boers, they are run by Communists. It is true that the first concentration camps were in South Africa, but it wasn’t the Boers who built them, it was the British, and it was the Boer civilians who died in them by the thousands, from cholera. Read anything about the Congo? Does the name “Rwanda” call anything to mind? Is what the Boers and British did to the Xhosa worse than what the Tutsis did to the Hutus? How about what the Hutus then proceeded to do to the Tutsis? Bit of a rough neighborhood, Africa. I will admit, Mandela may have played a role in preventing just such a genocide in SA, but it’s early days yet, to be waxing poetic about the happy lot of White South Africans. As political regimes go, the one Mandela opposed was considerably more enlightened than most. Mandela had a trial, after all, and he was guilty of what he was charged with. And if the history you refer to is any guide, the one he wanted to replace it with would have been a lot worse, and the one he did replace it with may yet be.

    The reason the Left singles out SA is because it was blacks being oppressed by whites, a juxtaposition that serves their current purposes. North Koreans are not white, and the thousands dying in Communist death camps aren’t black, so your professors had no bone to pick with Kim Jong-Il. But if you think the Leftists will eat you last because you parrot their bullshit — well, who knows? Maybe you’re right. Maybe they’ll save you when they butcher the rest of us, and eat you a little at a time, from the bottom, so you can keep on singing. Same goes for your professors, by the way.

  17. @Joe Dokes

    “everyone who could, did so” is such a lazy argument, I can only ask if you read your own words, or just reached for the nearest cliched argument

  18. “I can only ask if you read your own words, or just reached for the nearest cliched argument”

    My point was quite clear. Either you choose to ignore it so as to avoid addressing it, or you simply did not comprehend it. Either way, it’s your problem, not mine.

  19. I’ve read some pretty tortured logic today re: mandela but justifying the murder of innocents because he later evolved into a guy who didn’t inflict genocide is about as tortured as it gets!
    There’s no excuse for arbitrarily targeting civilians – and no justification either. Mandela was a communist terrorist who would have turned South Africa into a totalitarian state similar to Cuba or the Soviet Union. He and the groups he founded killed innocent bystanders (blacks and whites) in their political endgame where “the end justifies means.” Real freedom fighters meet their enemies on a field of battle, not by cowardly rolling grenades into a crowded cafe where women and children are enjoying ice cream then justify their actions with cries of persecution.
    The idea that mandela could have committed genocide against whites after his release is laughable to anyone who understands the circumstances of mandela s release and South Africa. The SAS never lost a single battle to the ANC – had black leadership attempted to kill whites by “the hundreds or thousands” world opinion would have turned against mandela and the ANC – and world opinion was their most vital weapon against apartheid. Militarily, large swaths of the SAS would have put a quick end to any organized attempt by mandela or the ANC to commit genocide.
    In the end, mandela became a source for reconciliation and we should all be grateful for that – my cyclical side does wonder if that had been the case if his release had occurred in the mid-70s or 80s when the Soviets would have run cover – but his greatest accomplishment was his uncanny ability to play the cards he was dealt – he became a master politician manipulating circumstances and a changed world to whitewash his abhorrent past – but he’s certainly far from a great man deserving of all this sophomoric adulation.

  20. He was unrepentant terrorist who sung lovely dittys such as ‘Kill All the Whites’.
    South Africa is an incredibly corrupt and dangerous hellhole. It’s baffling that a twisted freak like Mandela is so revered.

    And your remark that “All people’s lives are complex and this is especially true of people who play on the largest stages of all.” is pure moral relativism on your part.
    http://afrikaner-genocide-achives.blogspot.com/

  21. “@Joe Dokes

    ‘everyone who could, did so’ -wrong”

    Well, of course there were people at the time who rejected slavery. In fact there were a lot of them, as can be seen from the infamous ‘four fifths’ compromise (which, contrary to the commonly held belief, was actually forced by the *opponents* of slavery). However, that does not change the fact that slavery was a common and widely accepted practice at the time. Does that excuse people who owned slaves? No. Does that put Washington’s ownership of slaves in the same league as Mandela’s embrace of terrorism and murder (look up ‘Necklacing’)? No.

    Having said that, I broadly agree with Drew’s views on Mandela. He is far from a hero to me, but he did later move away from violence and he did hold South Africa together during a difficult transition period. Sure, post apartheid South Africa is far, far from a paradise, but it isn’t Zimbabwe.

  22. Sorry, obviously that should read *infamous ‘three fifths’ compromise’.

  23. The truth is the truth, regardless of what people say. And the truth is that Mandela was a communist and a terrorist who killed in the name of fighting apartheid and in the name of communism, who confessed to involvement in over 150 murders, spent 27 years in prison, and emerged from prison to follow through peacefully on the apartheid front what he began violently.

    His words and actions during the post-prison time of national and racial healing should be lauded and admired, but ignoring his history is painting over the truth.

    If what he stood for in the end can’t stand up to the scrutiny of the whole truth, then he stood for nothing. I believe he stood for something.

  24. Violent Black Lefty Canonized By The Usual Suspects

    *yawn*

  25. Everything Jerome said.

  26. I suspect that the reason Mandela didn’t do what he is being praised for not doing is that during all those years in jail he got old and lost that fire inside

  27. “Inconveniently, though plan for all to see, is that there are whites with Mandela singing the same words. It’s clear that the song has a specific cultural and political meaning in that context that Swindle either doesn’t understand or simply ignores.”

    “In the end the story of Mandela is that he wasn’t like almost all men. He wasn’t perfect and he wasn’t without sin (almost no one in South Africa was). However, he changed and grew. When he lacked the power to change his country he used violent means to attempt to get it. But once he had the power, he eschewed violence. That is not the typical tale of history. He did not crush those who had crushed him and his people. Instead he recognized that no one would benefit from that and more to the point, it was morally reprehensible to him to do so.

    Mandela was a complex and imperfect man but when he faced the choice of violence on an awesome scale, a violence he could have turned lose with a single sentence, he said no. He used the moral authority that had been invested in him not simply to sweep away a racist regime but also to control his former comrades, including his own wife, who wanted to change South Africa with blood.

    That is the man the world rightly mourns the passing of.”

    What are you talking about? The dude killed 200 people,give or take. The song about killing whites is about,duh, killing whites.

    Yeah, it turned out he didn’t deliver on his promise to kill all the whites. When have Communists ever delivered on their promises? He probably needed the whites to help him run things behind the scenes. Everyone in his country is dumb as fuck.I’m talking literally retarded by white standards. He was the smartest retard they had. Maybe he was too fucking dumb to figure out how to kill all the whites but smart enough to realize he was dumb.

    Whatever the reason,he was a bloodthirstymurderer,like most of his countrymen, and the apartheid was probably to keep the damn animals from raping and cannibalizing white women and children. Blacks set up segregated neighborhoods,THEMSELVES AND OF THEIR OWN VOLITION, that whites are not allowed to enter on pain of death right here in the United States. Nobody gives a fuck about that. What’s so special about apartheid? Why is apartheid worse than black self-segregation and the Knockout Game?

  28. Phineas Worthington

    Mandela was indeed a complex man with many layers. Not so long ago, he spoke simultaneously of love, democracy, and peace in English while singing traditional songs advocating the killing of whites. HIs media legacy is not so black and white. And many fear what will happen now in South Africa is an uptick in more state sanctioned violence against Afrikaners now that he is gone. 1/5 Of the white population has fled in the past decade alone due to racial violence. And South Africa is mired in crime, gang rape, and murder at levels never seen during the days of tyranny under the racial national socialism of Apartheid that did have to go. South Africa is a society in desperate need of law and order still to this day.

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