The most scandalous appropriation of Mandela comes from the Right. There is something unseemly about this seizure given that its main protagonists – the conservatives of Britain and their settler colonial allies the conservatives of the US, Canada and Australia – continued to ally with apartheid South Africa and consider Nelson Mandela as a terrorist the United States had him on the terror list till 2008. Their attempt to claim him was crowned by the presence of George W. Bush and David Cameron at Mandela’s memorial service in South Africa. But this attempt is like that of a snake trying to claim a shed skin that is not its own, encouraged to slither into it and preen for a past that is at great remove from the truth.Along the grain of the Right’s attempt to appropriate Mandela comes that of liberalism, which sought as well to banish the crimes of apartheid during its heyday with mealy-mouthed claims for gradualism – reform of such a structure of apartheid South Africa being impossible, such talk meant the defence of the status quo. A good example of the myopia of liberalism is US President Jimmy Carter’s State Department Declaration from October 1977, more than a year after the June 1976 Soweto Uprising, which could only call upon South Africa to acknowledge procedural rights – end unlawful detention, for instance, — but not to begin a process of dialogue to unravel apartheid. Even US liberalism felt the need to acknowledge, against the prison house of racial discrimination, the white minority view taken by John Vorster, South Africa’s Prime Minister, that his country would either have apartheid or it would commit racial suicide. To have US President Barack Obama, today’s liberal standard-bearer, at Mandela’s memorial service lecturing the world about the problems with procedural rights as his government conducts extra-judicial drone strikes and continues to hold prisoners without habeas corpus provisions shows you the nadir of liberalism.
- Mandela, the Unapologetic Radical by Vijay Prashad (zcommunications.org)
- That Time Reagan Vetoed the Anti-Apartheid Act (colorlines.com)
- Mandela, the Unapologetic Radical (colorlines.com)
- ‘When My Father And Mandela Stood Against Apartheid’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- The Mandela Barbie – OpEd (eurasiareview.com)
- Lincoln Mitchell: A Closer Look at Reactionary Posthumous Attacks on Nelson Mandela (huffingtonpost.com)