Mourning Nelson Mandela

Last week, Nelson Mandela died after a long battle with lung problems. He was most famous for being a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who served as the first black President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. People all over the world have mourned his death over the past week.

July 18, 1918 – December 5, 2013. Image by South Africa, The Good News.

Many politicians and celebrities all over the world over had something positive to say about the man who brought change to South Africa in a compilation of quotations published by USA Today shortly after Mandela’s death. President Obama said, “A man who took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice.” Former President Bill Clinton said, “I will never forget my friend Madiba.” Madiba is, of course, the tribal name of Nelson Mandela and the name his many fans in South Africa refer to him as. Boxing legend Muhammad Ali said, “He made us realize, we are our brother’s keeper and that our brothers come in all colors. What I will remember most about Mr. Mandela is that he was a man whose heart, soul and spirit could not be contained or restrained by racial and economic injustices, metal bars or the burden of hate and revenge.”

Still, some people attempted to politicize Mandela’s death. On the other side of the aisle, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly emphasized that the “great man” Nelson Mandela was also a “communist.” Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum attempted to compare Mandela’s fight for equality against white supremacists to the Tea Party’s fight against Obamacare and all things related to Obama when he said, “he was fighting against some…great injustice, and I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever-increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.” Furthermore, conservative radio pundit Rush Limbaugh claimed that Barack Obama was trying to associate himself with Mandela in the wake of the death of the anti-apartheid leader and former South African president. Reacting to multiple reports about Mandela’s and Obama’s relationship, Limbaugh said, “I’ll tell you who’s putting this out there. It’s Obama doing everything and anything he can to link himself to Mandela, and the Clintons are the same thing. We got a nickname for them, ‘The Funeral Crashers.’ I mean, they’ll show up anywhere where there’s a camera. This kind of stuff, the Drive-Bys, I’m telling you, they’re doing everything they can to make the news of Mandela’s death all about Obama.”

Obviously, there is a rift in how Americans view the death of Mandela. Those on the left tend to view him as a revolutionary hero who fought for equality, while those on the right tend to see him as communist who overthrew a government, with some, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, going as far as to call him a “terrorist.” This reaction is nothing out of the ordinary. Take for instance, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher: those on the left considered her to be nothing but a capitalist pig, while those on the right in Britain worshipped her as a hero and compared her to Republican Ronald Reagan, the icon of modern conservatism in the United States. All this only indicates that the divide between political parties in our country is growing bigger by the hour, with people viewing the same person as two very different people, one as a hero and a champion for world peace, and the other as a terrorist. In review, we should drop our political differences and mourn the loss of a man for who he was: a savior of the oppressed, a man named Nelson Mandela.

Homepage image by Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>