Cornel West Warns Against Making Mandela Into a “Huggable Old Man with a Smile”

Cornel West

As journalists and pundits begin framing Nelson Mandela’s life and deciding how he will be remembered, many, if not most, have omitted Mandela’s willingness to employ whatever tools were available to free black South Africans from apartheid. In America’s Civil Rights struggle, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. embraced nonviolence as his tool of choice against racist segregationists. Nelson Mandela was not Dr. King.

“Nonviolence is a good policy when the conditions permit,” Mandela once said. And in the aftermath of Mandela’s death, various rewritings of Mandela’s life have caused Dr. Cornel West to warn against what he calls the “Santa Claus-ification” of the South African leader.

Appearing on CNN, Dr. West called Mandela a “spiritual giant, moral titan and political revolutionary,” but then went on to say that we are all witnessing the “Santa Claus-ification” of his legacy. “We turn the revolutionary into an old man — a huggable old man with toys and a bag, smile on his face, no threat to anybody, domesticated, tame. And no longer really full of the fire,” West explained to host Jake Tapper.

West went on to describe Mandela up until the time of his death as having “militant tenderness and subversive sweetness and radical gentleness, tied to refusing to be fearful or intimidated in the face of a vicious white supremacist apartheid regime.”

“I started to make a study of the art of war and revolution and, whilst abroad, underwent a course in military training. If there was to be guerrilla warfare, I wanted to be able to stand and fight with my people and to share the hazards of war with them,” said Mandela. It is this Mandela that the rewriters of history are attempting to ignore. 
Photo Credit: happygreentea via Compfight cc

21 comments
Dr Johnny Duncan
Dr Johnny Duncan

Mandela was definitely a REVOLUTION/VISIONARY", in the same mould as Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Washington (George) and other lesser known individuals.  South Africa was not the political or demographic equivalent of the U. S.  Blacks, in the United States-during the hey day of Civil Rights, formed a minority.  Therefore, a non-violent strategy was necessary for their success and survival.  South Africa had a Black majority at the height of Apartheid. The frontline states that fought against Colonial Rule (mainly Portuguese) adopted the same strategy that had been utilized to subdue them.  Of course they received assisntance fron Cuba, the Soviet Union and China, while the United States, Israel and other Western powers propped up the minority regime.


For more on South Africa read "YOU MIGHT BE A NI**ER!" https://www.amazon.com/author/johnnyduncan

arobinson214
arobinson214

There are many of us who are aware of the treason of Mr. Mandala and that of the ANC (African National Congress), and have been for some times, but there are those regardless of this informed article that you are presenting will call it a pack of lies by the oppressor.  Negating the fact that it was the oppressor who gave them their liberator.  imagine your enemy becoming the source of your liberation?  Be careful such as yourself becomes the enemy of those wishing to remain either in ignorance or those seeking to allied themselves for their personal gain.  And there are many.

runawayslavegirl
runawayslavegirl

"COMMON ON CORNEL WE AIN'T FREE AND NEITHER ARE YOU ! SPEWING THE WHITE MAN HATRED, NO ONE DEFILES THE KLU KLUX KLAN, STOP IT NO ONE IS TAKING IT TO HEART.


GIVE US A PLAN! NOT BULLSHIT.......

jjfair
jjfair

Cornel West is so full of himself. He has done nothing except berate those that have achieved more than he would ever in this life or the next. It becomes so sad to see Black scholars do anything to have people notice them. After blasting President Obama was uncalled for; he could not ever agree with president, but some whites use this to prove Black are like crabs in a barrel. 


Wonder if his butt could have endured 27 years in prison and come out to become president over a country that was worse than America in the 20th Century. In America Black were and today in some cases considered as 3/5 human; however, in South Africa Black were less and shot downs as dogs in the street. Reagan thought like many whites, supporting apartheid could have cared less. During the 80's what did West do, not much.

arobinson214
arobinson214

Nelson Mandala is considered the great compromise that lead the nation into a peaceful transition.  But at what cost?  This peaceful transition imprisoned many that were not in agreement with his ideological framework of what constituted a peaceful transition.  Peaceful was to allow those of power under the apartheid regime not only to dictate the terms by which they would accept the apology from those they abused, but equally allowed them to removed the wealth from the country and, leave in their wake,a devastated and financial ruined republic. For those of us who are of the opinion that the ANC is responsible for the fall of Apartheid, rather then the international community for South Africa's failure to support the sanctions of the Palestine and other countries of that were on the Arab Israeli watch list, you have better check your history as far back as Edi Amen and that of Gaddafi and the Pan-Africa accord and the call for nationalism on the African continent. There is much history lost, strayed or stolen.  The abuses and political oppression of South African Nationalist under the Nelson Mandala Administration and the corruption of the ANC (Africa National Congress) ranges far and wide. Not to kick the dead, but be careful who the enemy gives you as a liberator.

TC381
TC381

I think Dr. West is right.  We see Mandela in the present and forget what brought him to this point.  Being willing to die for what he believed.  For the total freedom of his people.

runawayslavegirl
runawayslavegirl

West, what about all the violence that was portrayed on the people. You Negroes ceased to amaze me.

LaRahnGuthrie
LaRahnGuthrie

Let keep it real100% . no lies just the truth. Lets wright history the way it was meant to be. Thank you Dr. West.

EIESOC
EIESOC

Cornel West aka "The Mad Hatter" is at it again!

sue2013
sue2013

We need to take our true freedom by force.

ICDATRUTHSimetime
ICDATRUTHSimetime

Damn, here we go again with another over educated negro who cannot understand when dealing with unreasonable racist whites violence is all that they understand

ShakkaZulu
ShakkaZulu

They only love us Blacks/Afrikans when we're good and dead like they're now feeling all this "love" for Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Dr MLK and now Madiba, what a bunch of damn hypocrites who needs to go straight to hell. They love us when we're smiling, shucking and jiving for them, looking like hapless buffoons, non intimidating caricatures of ourselves that far too many of us like to indulge in instead of us being really serious about being serious about our very precarious position in this life   

arobinson214
arobinson214

@Watchful You want an even shocking betrayal check out what the African Americans did to the indigenous people of Liberia and Freedom town, upon their return to the west coast of Africa, following the revolutionary war and those of Garvey.  There has been several African American Settlements, each erecting a government of enslavement, disenfranchisement and right to rule as a racially superiors.

arobinson214
arobinson214

@jjfair I am no supporter of Cornell West because I am of the opinion that his consistent attacks on the president are not serving the African American Community, not that they are unwarranted or unjustified, but rather, that they detract from the balloting process as the end game of political change and Scio-economic challenges facing the poor and that of the African American Community.  But, I have always held that his views, criticism and statements are on time, though lacking in methodology to achieve and objective.  What ever his objective maybe.   But, if you are of the opinion, as the press alleges, that Nelson Mandala and the ANC ( African National Congress) are the cause of the end of Apartheid you are as misinformed as you are unaware of the actions and suppression of the African living in South Africa, due to the corruption of that party.  The great liberator liberated the Aparthied Regime to a greater extent then he liberated the mass of Africans.  Of course one would have to research, rather then accept the critique of the man and the party by the world press and their interest.  But that is not going to happen anytime soon.

brett1965
brett1965

Educated negro?? Your still living in the 60's!! Your the only negro here!! Understand this negro, if you want to be violent and I want to be peaceful you are not going to understand me unless I am just as violent as you are! If you speak Spanish and I speak English you are not going to understand me unless I am speaking your language!! Foolish negro!!  

jjfair
jjfair

@arobinson214 @jjfair LOL. I am not that naive. Having African friends I do not walk with blinders. Just as in the United States, Jim Crow and Apartheid each now wear a 3-piece suite, have puppets that look like us [Black/African Americans]. 


Hatred is shown on both continents, and all of us that receive the short end are ask to remain forgiving, and be patient. I do research lots trust me, and you are correct. Black in Africa and America have felt the injustices since colonization, and end of enslavement. Greed and corruption has bought the integrity of so called Black leaders; even more, their lies about the playing fields being equal. 


West and Smiley both spew most noise that keep them as do others in the limelight. 


Love your response, thank you.

arobinson214
arobinson214

@Watchful @jjfair How did the politicians get there to be bought off if not by elections.  The political right wing and the conservative agenda wish us to believe that there is no power in the balloting process, but even our ancestors knew better, but it is apparent that there off spring has lost and betrayed their sacrifice, in securing the balloting process.

   At anytime my enemy tells me that there is no power in a process.  I become aware that there is, and if not so, then why do you continue to participate.  

   Malcolm stated: " that power concedes nothing without a struggle and that concession are made either through the ballot or the bullet ". 

   How did the first African American become President of these United States of American, if not by ballot.  His problem is and continue to be an uneducated electorate of the process and how legislation becomes law. 

   Why, because we have remained too distant for too long from the political arena.   Politics is not the enemy ignorance is the enemy.  Ignorance of the political process and it's intent. How is one to gain an economic foothold in an environment by right wing politicians who steers money and finance from the African American Community solely on the basis for lack or resistance by our community. 

   President Obama's second term faced massive combined financing and rhetoric by those you have mentioned.  Now tell me that money talks and bull shit walks.  President Obama has delivered every thing he promised.  He promise to restore Middle Class Jobs and work on behalf of the Middle Class, at no time in his speech did he mention the poor, either white poor or black poor, and intentionally steered clear of African American issues. 

   President Obama did not hide his agenda, and that is why he did not receive my vote.  Now in retrospect those that support him such as Dr. Cornell West and others are attempting to distance themselves, as well as the great mass of African Americans. 

   But we must not look to President Obama for the failures in the African American Community; those that are now distancing themselves were her prior to his election, and they are doing now as they have always done, except targeting President Obama n derailing the political agenda, they should be setting.  Nothing.  The ballot or the bullet.  I choose the ballot and the legislative process.

arobinson214
arobinson214

@Watchful @jjfair In the world of politics you either cast your vote for a face or for an ideology. In the election of President Obama African Americans cast their vote for a face.  And a face they got.  At no time during the campaign did President Obama state that he was for either enriching or representing the concerns of the poor. 

   He stated during his campaign for both Presidency that his objective was to reestablish the Middle Class and Middle Class jobs.  The mere fact that he won a first and second term attest to the power of the Ballot rather then the bullet as a means for change. 

  For African Americans to be detracted from the ballot as a means to change is a counter productive assertion.  The fact that the T-party less then 8 years in the making has been able to pass legislation and control spending and shift the resources of this Nation to represent their interest stands in stark contrasts to those who are of the opinion that the Ballot serves no one. 

   The balloting serves those who seizes the power of local and state government, because it is at these levels, rather then the presidential level where power and distribution and legislative authority resides.

   The failure of the Obama Administration rests in the not electing and continuing in the balloting process on the state and local levels of government, and the success of the T-party serves as an example to this truth. 

   What we are witnessing in the balloting process is a declaration of war, by the conservative agenda, using the balloting process to structure the states, local and federal governments to their agenda, by remaining in the balloting process. 

   Instead of our leaders focusing on President Obama, and those of the lay class, such as myself, our energy would be better served, of the African American community, if we promoted that we are in a battle of survival and that the ballot has proven to be a successful medium for change,  

  The election of president Obama, regardless of the unsavory consequences, was a great and historic victory a collaboration of good intent, but we failed to acknowledge that one victory or defeat  does not determine the war. 

    A decisive political battle has to be from the bottom up and not from the top down.  We need a consensus of our political objectives; a gathering of resources; a grass roots organization and synchronization on a local and national level;  community organization and political direction.  Our best serving example is that of the T-party.  Our own historic example is that served on the March on Washington.

    As President Obama has stated: " Stop complaining, put on your marching shoes " and as I might add " dance to the music of political, economic and social change.  Demand it at the balloting box; demand it in the churches through out the African American Community; demand it through the tele-communication net works; Travis Smiley demand it; Cornell West Demand it; Tom Joyner demand it.

    Our problems are not unique to the struggling poor.  Form net works of communication and collaboration with other ethic groups. We must end the isolation and insulation of the African Americans Fight for economic, political and social justice. Make our fight a national fight on the political frontier of America.