Last week, we learned of the passing of Nelson Mandela, who may rank closest to a true hero that the human race has had in living memory. Alas, we also endured a litany of complaints from those for whom any association with the communism of the 1950 and 60′s is enough to taint a person forever.
This post at Booman Tribune captures the problem of applying our Western, especially our American, perspective to Mandela’s struggle. BooMan first offers Mandela’s own words, from his famous “I am prepared to die” speech delivered from the dock on April 20, 1964:
It is perhaps difficult for white South Africans, with an ingrained prejudice against communism, to understand why experienced African politicians so readily accept communists as their friends. But to us the reason is obvious. Theoretical differences, amongst those fighting against oppression, is a luxury which cannot be afforded. What is more, for many decades communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and as their equals; who were prepared to eat with us; talk with us, live with us, and work with us. They were the only political group which was prepared to work with the Africans for the attainment of political rights and a stake in society. Because of this, there are many Africans who today tend to equate freedom with communism. They are supported in this belief by a legislature which brands all exponents of democratic government and African freedom as communists and bannned many of them, who are not communists, under the Suppression of Communism Act. Although My Lord I am not a communist and I have never been a member of the Communist Party, I myself have been banned, have been named under that pernicious Act because of the role I played in the Defiance Campaign. I have also been banned and convicted under that Act.
It is not only in internal politics that we count communists as amongst those who support our cause. In the international field, communist countries have always come to our aid. In the United Nations and other Councils of the world the communist bloc has supported the Afro-Asian struggle against colonialism and often seems to be more sympathetic to our plight than some of the Western powers. Although there is a universal condemnation of apartheid, the communist bloc speaks out against it with a louder voice than most of the western world. In these circumstances, it would take a brash young politician, such as I was in 1949, to proclaim that the Communists are our enemies.
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