I have, as many of us, I'm sure, some thoughts on Nelson Mandela and his passing.
While many of the accolades he's receiving are honest and from honorable people of a variety of political and socio-economic perspectives, it's interesting to hear his praises sung in this country by some of those whose political and socio-economic positions are directly antithetical to his.
In skimming a few discussion lists, far and away from ours, I've noted very sharp criticisms of him from ostensible leftists. It isn't enough that Mandela and his co-activists, mostly black but not all, were able to build a movement that accomplished a miracle — bringing one of the worst racial dictatorships in humanity's history into broad political democracy, desegregation, and integration — and via nonviolence. The "bitch" of the critics of whom I'm speaking, fault him heavily for not destroying capitalism. Well, these things take some good time, even under the best of circumstances,. These critics strike me as living room types, whose radicalism is cerebral, and who haven't ever been in the streets under potentially lethal circumstances. If they've been to South Africa, it's been as superficially observing tourist types.
Back in the days of the American civil rights movement, I very occasionally found myself speaking to groups outside of Dixie. Almost all of the people present were sensibly empathetic. Occasionally, there would be Birchy types, not unexpected — but there were also, now and then, cloistered "leftists" who tried — unsuccessfully, I should add — to derail my "river of talk" on the Southern Movement by claiming we weren't doing enough to overthrow capitalism. B.S., pure and simple. My short and curt response to them was (and is) — first things first.
It's a miracle, and a tribute to many, many thousands of dedicated civil rights activists in this country, that a vast amount of Good Change was accomplished nonviolently — and with relatively little bloodshed. In the last analysis, the South and other problematic parts of this country, are part of the United States with, however tattered, its politically democratic traditions.
We have an always unfinished country and world — and the justice struggle goes on as it most certainly should. But for the longest time, a great many of us of varied views, felt that nothing would change in totally sovereign South Africa short of massively tragic and sanguinary violence. That it did change substantially without that "price" is, obviously, a tribute to Mandela and his colleagues and a vast throng of black people, and their non-black allies. To belittle them and their accomplishments is to wear the brand of fools.
Copyright © 2013, Hunter Beart
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