Conservatives have turned Nelson Mandela’s death in to another reminder of how firmly Republicans stood, and still stand, on the wrong side of history. Here are some of the worst conservative reactions to Mandela’s death.
1. “Don’t mourn for Mandela.”
In his December 6 column, WorldNetDaily editor-in-chief Joseph Farah told his readers, “Don’t mourn for Mandela.” After acknowledging that apartheid was “inarguably an evil and unjustifiable system,” Farah went on to claim that Mandela brought about a system “in which anti-white racism is so strong today that a prominent genocide watchdog group has labeled the current situation a “precursor” to the deliberate, systematic elimination of the race."
In just a few sentences, Farah managed to make Mandela's death all about white people. It's impressive, in a kind of stomach-turning way.
2. “He was a great man, but he was a communist.”
Pajama’s Media got in on the fun with a headline that also called Mandela a “communist.”
He wasn’t, of course. But whatever.
3. “Obamacare is like apartheid.”
Rich Santorum Insulted the memory of countless black South Africans who perished under apartheid, when he compared the Affordable Care Act to apartheid, and said Mandela would have opposed Obamacare.
Spoken like someone who has no idea what life under apartheid was like. Because a system that demeaned, dehumanized, and degraded generations of black South Africans is exactly like a system that brings health care coverage to millions who were uninsured, because they were too poor to afford private health insurance, but not poor enough to qualify for Medicaid.
Wrong again. South Africa has a socialized health care system.
4. Ted Cruz Slammed by Conservative Base For Honoring Mandela
It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for Sen. Ted Cruz (R, TX). The man who held a 21-hour filibuster-about-nothing and got away with it, really stepped it when he eulogized Mandela on his Facebook page, saying that Mandela was “an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe… Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free."
To his credit, Sen. Cruz’s office defended, which currently has over 500,000 likes.
5. Gingrich Gets Slammed on Facebook
Sen. Cruz is not alone. Former House Speaker and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was slammed by Facebook commenters when he praised Mandela on his Facebook page. Gingrich later claimed to be “surprised” by the vehement reactions.
This from a guy who played the race card every chance he got during his presidential run.
6. Dick Cheney Would Still Vote To Keep Mandela In Prison
In 1986, then Rep. Dick Cheney voted against a resolution calling for the release of Nelson Mandela and the recognition of the African National Congress. In 2013, after Mandela’s death, former Vice President Dick Cheney defended his vote.
Cheney not only voted against the resolution, but voted to uphold Ronald Reagan’s veto.
7. Rush Limbaugh Used Mandela’s Death to Trash The Civil Rights Movement
It should come as no surprise that Rush Limbaugh used Mandela’s death to spew his usual brand of. On Friday, Limbaugh praised Mandela’s forgiveness, only to turn and denounce the American Civil Rights Movement.
Of course, Mandela realized that both truth and reconciliation were necessary if South Africa was to move on. Thus, after apartheid South Africa set up a restorative justice body called the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission held public hearings which were a crucial part of its transition to from minority rule to a flu and equal democracy. Victims of gross human rights violations under apartheid were invited to give statements, about their experiences. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony, and request amnesty from civil and criminal prosecution.
Maybe the U.S. needs its own Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What are the chances Limbaugh would embrace that?
8. Westboro Baptist Church Heads to South Africa
Well, we’ve reached the bottom of the barrel, where we find Westboro Baptist Church trying to book flights to Johannesburg, to protest Mandela’s funeral.
— Westboro Baptist (@WBCSays) December 6, 2013
Famous for picketing the funeral of dead soldiers, the church says it’s targeting Mandela’s divorce and remarriage as evidence of his “damnation.” Wait until someone tells them that Mandela was also a strong supporter of gay rights.
It’s ironic that some of the worst reactions on the right come the conservative base, in response the attempts of Republicans official to hop on the Mandela bandwagon. Republicans probably hoped that enough time had passed for most Americans to forget that conservatives stood on the wrong side of history when it mattered, on apartheid. But even the GOP base has not forgotten that conservatives called Mandela a terrorist long before they called him a hero.
In 1986, moderate Republicans were thoroughly denounced by conservatives for bucking President Reagan and supporting the Anti-Apartheid Act. Back then, conservatives like Sen. Mitch McConnell (R, KY) preached delay in overturning apartheid. But at least there were some Republicans who understood the immorality of asking people to continue to endure injustice. Those moderates have largely disappeared from the GOP today.
That’s part of the problem conservatives have with Nelson Mandela. Opposing apartheid was just as much the right thing to do then as it is now, when it’s far easier and safer to denounced a system that was largely defeated without their help.
The other part of the problem is that things Mandela always stood for are decidedly progressive.
- He spoke out against the Iraq war in 2003, and criticized then President Bush as “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust,” and questioned why the U.S. acted with such arrogance.
- He led South Africa to become the first African nation to ban anti-gay discrimination, and embrace marriage quality in its constitution.
- He defended workers’ rights and collective bargaining.
- He was a committed advocate of women’s rights, and placed gender equality at the top of his agenda declaring, “Freedom cannot be achieved unless women have been emancipated from all forms of oppression.”
And that’s just to name a few.
No wonder the right doesn’t know how to deal with Nelson Mandela. In life, and in death, his legacy exposes that the American right has always stood on the wrong side of history; both American and world history.