The Search for Nuance about Nelson Mandela — as the World Celebrates His Legacy

What Keller ignores, as do others, is that Mandela not only accepted the Party positions, but used its strength to turn the once non-violent ANC to terrorism, as well as to an alliance in which the worst left-wing tyrannies were endorsed and supported. Mandela himself welcomed Fidel Castro with open arms, calling him upon his release from prison the leader of a country that “stands out head and shoulders above the rest…in its love for human rights and liberty.”  This about a country in which political opponents were regularly tortured and starved in the most brutal prisons, and in which many prisoners received and served far longer sentences in prison than Mandela himself.

After his release, he welcomed Muammar Gadaffi to South Africa, calling him a comrade and praising his dictatorial regime as a land of freedom. Libyan exiles protested and pleaded with Mandela for his support, telling him that his backing of Gadaffi was an insult to the “thousands…who are still in the jails of the tyrant, subjected to torture on a daily basis for asking nothing more than what you and the people of South Africa have asked for: to breathe free in our own land.”

Mandela responded by saying that the internal conditions of these countries were their own business, and any interference from other nations was a violation of their sovereignty. Somehow, the very acts of solidarity he asked for from the West were wrong when victims of human rights violations by leftist regimes requested the same kind of support he and the ANC expected during the years of apartheid.

No one has made this point better than Michael Moynihan at the Daily Beast, who writes:

For a man imprisoned for his political beliefs, he had a weakness for those who did the very same thing to their ideological opponents, but were allowed a pass because they supported, for realpolitik reasons, the struggle against Apartheid. So Mandela was painfully slow in denouncing the squalid dictatorship of Robert Mugabe. He was rather fond of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro (it won’t take you long to find photos of the two bear-hugging each other in Havana) and regularly referred to Libyan tyrant Muammar Qaddafi as “Brother Leader of the Revolution of the Libyan Jamahariya.” It was on a return visit to Robbin Island, when Mandela, as president, announced with appalling tone deafness that he would invite both Castro and Qaddafi to South Africa.

Moreover, during the years of armed struggle, the ANC ran brutal training camps in which scores of young blacks were purged as unreliable, and tortured and then burned to death in the chosen method of the ANC -- necklacing -- the term used for putting them in rubber auto tires and setting them afire. It was for this reason that even Amnesty International refused to give him the status of “political prisoner,” as a critical report in  conservative Catholic magazine Crisis points out.

As author Timothy J. Williams writes in this magazine, the record of South Africa today is also Mandela’s legacy:

Mandela did, however, leave behind another socialist nightmare in the making. With their motto of “liberation before education,” the ANC has proved itself completely incapable of governing, and South Africa is sliding into chaos at an alarming rate. Since 2004, South Africa has experienced almost constant political protests, many of them violent. Activists like to refer to the nation as the most “protest-rich in the world,” which, along with prison camps, is the only type of “riches” a socialist nation can produce. The nation is staggered by unemployment, corruption throughout all levels of the police, military, and civil service, and ubiquitous, inescapable crime. Life in South Africa is far more dangerous, especially for blacks and women, than it was under Apartheid. With about fifty murders a day, the nation is now among the undisputed murder capitals of the world, most of these crimes going uninvestigated.

"The astounding estimates of other violent crimes, including rape, are almost impossible to believe," Williams adds. "But only the truth of such figures could account for the fact that the private security business in South Africa is the largest in the world, with over a quarter-million private security guards in a nation of under 53 million."