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Just a couple of Things – Mandela, Jobs, ObamaCare

I wrote this for the Urban News.mandelaThe great Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. His death should cause reflection and celebration: Nelson Mandela was, simply, a great man.

In our culture we like to simplify and homogenize our icons. George Washington never told a lie; “Honest Abe” Lincoln studied by candlelight in a log cabin; Ronald Reagan, according to some of his idolizers, never did anything wrong (despite supporting apartheid while he was president). We like to sanitize our heroes.

We don’t need to sanitize Nelson Mandela: he was a human being just like you and me. Human beings are complex; they make mistakes. Many conservatives like to point out that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist, and indeed, Nelson Mandela did turn to violence. He also embraced anyone and anything that could help fund his struggling ANC (African National Congress)—including Fidel Castro and socialism, as he looked for answers to end his nation’s oppression.

Does this diminish Nelson Mandela? I don’t think so. I think it makes his image richer. Nelson Mandela liberated a nation, freed a people from generations of oppression, brought down a regime based on racial separation. Not only did he do so without a violent revolution; he did so without demonizing the white minority, but by reconciling with them. Nelson Mandela embraced his former oppressors—and the world is a better place for his life and example. (Egberto Willies, over at DKos, said just about the same thing.) (more…)

By |2013-12-10T22:42:11-04:00December 9th, 2013|Economy, Foreign Affairs, Healthcare, Party Politics, Race|4 Comments

News Roundup – Nelson Mandela, Job Numbers, North Korea

Nelson Mandela on Day After Release

As I mentioned yesterday, Nelson Mandela has died. As usual, Frontline has a fabulous documentary on the life of Nelson Mandela. If you are truly interested in how this man survived 27 years in prison and how he pulled off what was a magnificent tap dance between multiple different factions in South Africa, this documentary is for you.

It seems that whenever somebody like Nelson Mandela grabs the media spotlight, those ultraconservatives get kind of weird. First up on the crazy train is Rush Limbaugh. He simply can’t help himself. Now, we have the mayor of DC comparing Nelson Mandela’s struggle to the struggle of DC. Not so much. Finally, President Obama has ordered the nation’s flags to fly at half mast honoring the life of Nelson Mandela. Of course, there’s some sheriff in South Carolina who feels this is simply wrong. Psst, we know that he isn’t an American, but we are honoring his greatness anyway. Why do you have a problem with that? (The US flag was flown at half-staff for Pope John Paul II (2005), King Hussein of Jordan (1999), Yitzhak Rabin, prime minister of Israel (1995) and Anwar Sadat, president of Egypt (1981).) On a more positive note, Maya Angelou wrote a tribute poem for Nelson Mandela.


By |2013-12-07T14:47:37-04:00December 7th, 2013|Economy, Foreign Affairs, North Korea|Comments Off on News Roundup – Nelson Mandela, Job Numbers, North Korea



The great Nelson Mandela has died. The following are words that he said at his trial in 1964.

I admit immediately that I was one of the persons who helped to form Umkhonto we Sizwe. I deny that Umkhonto was responsible for a number of acts which clearly fell outside the policy of the organisation, and which have been charged in the indictment against us. I, and the others who started the organisation, felt that without violence there would be no way open to the African people to succeed in their struggle against the principle of white supremacy. All lawful modes of expressing opposition to this principle had been closed by legislation, and we were placed in a position in which we had either to accept a permanent state of inferiority, or to defy the government. We chose to defy the law.

We first broke the law in a way which avoided any recourse to violence; when this form was legislated against, and then the government resorted to a show of force to crush opposition to its policies, only then did we decide to answer violence with violence. (more…)

After 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela came out a proud, forgiving man. If there was bitterness I didn’t see it. He made it possible for the truth and reconciliation committee to take place. It was this committee that made it possible for the South African country to heal. Mandela was a truly remarkable man who changed the world.

By |2013-12-05T22:26:31-04:00December 5th, 2013|Foreign Affairs, Race|Comments Off on Mandela
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