In those pre-internet times, it was obviously harder to quickly access “counter-cultural” facts about anyone or anything.
When it comes to learning about Nelson Mandela’s past these days, however, we might as well still be living in that far-away, unplugged era.
Today, googling “Nelson Mandela terrorist” brings up either mocking, preemptive apologias for Mandela’s criminal activities — whatever would we do without Nicholas Kristof? — plus a few shaky looking anti-Mandela websites that probably haven’t been updated since the Tripod era.
(You know you’re in a bad internet neighborhood when you see the words “Illuminati” and “Zionist.”)
However, few would characterize PBS as a “white supremacist” organization (although you’re free to insert your own Juan Williams jokes in the comments).
And sure enough, at their pages devoted to a sprawling Frontline documentary about Mandela, there it is at the top of the page:
During the 1950s Mandela was banned, arrested and imprisoned for challenging apartheid. He was one of the accused in the massive Treason Trial at the end of the decade and, following the 1960 banning of the ANC, he went underground, adopting a number of disguises–sometimes a laborer, other times a chauffeur. The press dubbed him “the Black Pimpernel” because of his ability to evade police.
During this time, he and other ANC leaders formed its armed wing–Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK).
Mandela was secretly appointed its commander in chief.