Monday, January 20, 2014
I didn't get a chance to put up a proper post when Nelson Mandela died, so MLK Day seemed a good date to at least post a roundup. If nothing else, watch the video below. The New York Times: " Mandela’s Death Leaves South Africa Without Its Moral Center" The Guardian's obituary. Bill Moyers: "Nelson Mandela on Overcoming Hatred" Common Dreams: "12 Mandela Quotes That Won't Be In the Corporate Media Obituaries" New York magazine: "17 Awesome and Inspiring Facts About Nelson Mandela" Mother Jones: "Nelson Mandela's Epitaph, in His Own Words" KCRW: "Nelson Mandela, South African Music and the Struggle Against Apartheid." (South African theater was also powerful.) Placido Domingo on meeting Mandela. Pieces with a more American (and British) focus: Crooked Timber: "Mandela Sanitized" Think Progress: "The Right Wing’s Campaign To Discredit And Undermine Mandela, In One Timeline" Roy Edroso on the American rightblogger reaction, one, two and three. Ta-Nehisi Coates: "Apartheid's Useful Idiots" Jonathan Chait: Why Conservatives Got Segregation Wrong a Second Time in South Africa" Joan Walsh: "Fight the right-washing of Nelson Mandela’s legacy" Crooks and Liars: "Gingrich: Mandela Death 'Just Another Excuse to Smear Reagan'" By any measure, Nelson Mandela was an extraordinary man, but he was not universally lauded during the various stages of his life and career. Similarly, as several pieces today outline (and as we've explored before), Martin Luther King was denounced by conservatives during his lifetime and long after. It was only when King was widely considered a national hero that conservatives changed their tune and tried to appropriate him for themselves. (I'm speaking mostly of professional conservative outlets, not average Americans.) He can also be overly sentimentalized and defanged as a social critic. The same has happened somewhat with Mandela, although a notable number of conservatives still express their outright hatred (see Roy's posts) with a small but admirable minority admitting they were wrong about Mandela. Like King, Mandela is too towering a figure to be dragged down by such attempts, but it's wise to remember that neither man was a saint, and their greatness emerges in large part because of that, not despite it.