Friday, December 6, 2013

Who Stands With the Real Nelson Mandela?

Aviva Shen has a great piece at Think Progress on the real Nelson Mandela, but first, Wonkette brings us a fact about Mandela that manages to do the impossible: make him even more incredible in our eyes.

Seriously, go read the whole thing right now, but then come back here because you will definitely want to know about this other thing he did in 1996.
South Africa’s new abortion law passed its final legislative hurdle today, clearing the way for President Nelson Mandela to replace one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal. [...]
The bill will cancel an existing law allowing abortion only in the case of rape, incest or immediate danger to the mother’s mental or physical health. Under the new law, women and girls will be entitled to a state-financed abortion on demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if they have no private medical insurance, and, subject to widely defined conditions, for a further eight weeks.
We don’t really have any jokes to make about this because we are basically just in awe of his awesomeness. While the whole world (okay, except for wingnut commenters, but what can you expect from them?) is being mostly gracious and humble about Mandela’s passing and saying — rightly — that he was a great role model and an inspiration, we hope that’s actually true and that what he actually did and believed and said might serve as an actual example for other leaders to actually follow. Just a thought.

That's just the first of the reasons very few American politicians - and absolutely not a single repug - has the right to claim to be an admirer of the real Mandela: 
In the desire to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s life — an iconic figure who triumphed over South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime — it’s tempting to homogenize his views into something everyone can support. This is not, however, an accurate representation of the man.

Mandela was a political activist and agitator. He did not shy away from controversy and he did not seek — or obtain — universal approval. Before and after his release from prison, he embraced an unabashedly progressive and provocative platform. As one commentator put it shortly after the announcement of the freedom fighter’s death, “Mandela will never, ever be your minstrel. Over the next few days you will try so, so hard to make him something he was not, and you will fail. You will try to smooth him, to sandblast him, to take away his Malcolm X. You will try to hide his anger from view.”

As the world remembers Mandela, here are some of the things he believed that many will gloss over.

1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism.

2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.”

3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists, even Osama Bin Laden, without due process.

4. Mandela called out racism in America.

5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies.

6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions.
With the possible exceptions of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, there's not a member of Congress who would stand up and say, in reference to these seven issues, "I stand with Mandela." 

Alison Lundergan Grimes sure as fuck would not.

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