by Yvette Carnell
After the death of a prominent force of resistance, the whitewashing begins almost immediately. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was so hated by the white establishment they blew half his face off, but you wouldn’t know it by watching the festivities marking his birthday or his “I Have a Dream” speech. It is pressing in these moments of memoriam that we not omit from the discussion those who wanted Mandela dead. It is crucial that, in our remembering, we not only recall our beloved icon of resistance, but also those whose greed and depravity created the need for rebellion in the first place.
….Decades ago many in America did not share in the adulation of Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC), which had been billed a terrorist organization by both South Africa and the United States. His severest right-wing critics painted him as an unrepentant terrorist and a communist sympathizer.
It was even reported that the CIA had helped engineer Mandela’s 1962 arrest when an agent inside the ANC supplied South African security officials with a tip-off to track him down.
Even America’s beloved optimist in the White House, Ronald Reagan, sought to kill a bill drafted by senators Ted Kennedy and Lowell Weicker that would’ve upended South Africa’s racist apartheid system. Reagan was joined by such people as Grover Norquist, who is still today invited on talk shows as if he is something other than a money grubbing demon, as is Dick Cheney, who never regretted his support for apartheid:
Cheney’s staunch resistance to the Anti-Apartheid Act arose as an issue during his future campaigns on the presidential ticket, but the Wyoming Republican has never said he regretted voting the way he did. In fact, in 2000, he maintained that he’d made the right decision.
“The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization,” Cheney said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.”
(Could you ever imagine a supporter of the holocaust being invited on ABC’s This Week?)
So when you remember Mandela, you should also remember those people, especially the ones in the U.S., who stood in his way. You should remember that those people gained prominence partly because of their willingness to stand against Mandela and today, they still hold their platforms and esteem. That says more about how many Americans feel about Mandela’s legacy than any prepared statement you’ll ever read.