06 December 2013

Mandela: Respect his legacy, don't whitewash it.

Mandela is being widely and rightly accoladed as one of the greatest humanitarian figures we've ever seen. However, let's never pretend he was a pacifist or worked within the system. Let's never forget that the likes of Reagan and Thatcher denounced him as a terrorist at the height of his campaign. Let's consider that if he was doing, in this day and age, what he was doing in the early 1960s, he would be labelled a dangerous militant radical. It does not do his legacy any favours or any favours for social justice in general to hide from these realities. There are so many lessons to be learned from the trajectory of Mandela and the ANC's struggle. 

Furthermore, while the mainstream media will no doubt spend the following few days celebrating the achievements of Mandela, it will continue to denounce, Bahraini youth fighting the police, Palestinians throwing rocks at the IDF, the ELF destroying GMO crops or young anarchist youth from Rio to London smashing bank windows. Consider that while Obama talks about how inspired he was by Mandela, the likes of Bahraini Human Rights leader Nabeel Rajab sit in prison, while Western leaders continue to say and do nothing about it. 

Freedom struggles are seemingly only acceptable from a safe distance, or distant past not in the raw and bloody now. 

Honor Mandela's legacy. All of it not just the palatable bits. 

Further reading, The Daily Beast: Don't Sanitize Mandela