OPINION – The world has bid a sentimental farewell to one the most noted leaders of the last century, Nelson Mandela.
And the extreme right has done it again. They’ve gone so far off the reservation that even their own party members are distancing themselves from the rhetoric that rides a fine line of racism and willful ignorance.
There is within the confines of a small faction of the Republican party an inability to see clearly beyond the dogma of party line ideologies and recognize the breadth and the body of a lifetime’s work and achievements.
Mandela’s associations with socialist viewpoints and communist leaders not withstanding, there is an insistence that his involvement with the African National Congress, an organization linked to and likely responsible for years of terrorist activity negate in its entirety his tireless work and achievements in freeing his people and ending Apartheid.
And at the outset, dismissing any rudimentary and sophomoric notions that Mandela had anything at all in common with fascist leaders such as Hitler or Stalin, my question is really quite simple:
How is he any different than the founders of this nation? Or the pioneers of this community?
When we think of terrorists, images emerge of fundamentalist religious fanatics cloaking their impetus to eradicate the unbelievers (or at least subjugate them) under the guise of eco-political agendas. We think of people who at the very core of their mission intend to cause as much human suffering as possible in the name of their cause. Collateral damage in this scenario is not considered fallout, but rather a bonus.
This is why when people refer to the Founders’ acts against England as terrorist in nature it is refuted at some level because it was a righteous purpose which drove the people who settled this land to take arms against its government. Oppression and tyranny were met head on with necessary violence to free the people and set forth a new nation. Collateral damage was considered a tragic byproduct but the objective was just.
If you were to talk to anyone with lineage in the pioneer families of St. George, they would tell you that the massacre of the Baker-Fancher party – where settlers making their way west were egregiously deceived to believe they had refuge with the locals, were disarmed and slaughtered in the most cowardly way imaginable – was somewhat justifiable. The locals’ prophet had been murdered and they had been on the run from deadly persecution from much of America at the time.
This is to say that perhaps there are times when violence is justifiable, or at least understandable as a means of last resort to right the course of history in human behavior. That when a ruling government is inflicting injustice and violence upon a people, a violent response is not only justified, but should be expected. It is to say that there comes a time when people cannot take it anymore and they pick up a weapon like the Founders did. Like the Mormons did.
Consider this passage from French philosopher Jean Baudrillard:
“When global power monopolizes the situation to this extent, when there is such a formidable condensation of all functions in the technocratic machinery, and when no alternative form of thinking is allowed, what other way is there but a terroristic situational transfer. It was the system itself which created the objective conditions for this brutal retaliation …. This is terror against terror – there is no longer any ideology behind it.”
It is not a difficult concept to grasp that what incited Mandela and the ANC was as insidious as the response itself. Americans who know their own history should know this and relate to it well.
But ideology takes precedence over common sense it appears when the extreme right is given the opportunity to interpret Mandela’s life and it is sadly telling. Very telling.
To add insult to stupidity here, it is confounding to the intelligent mind that the entire scope of Mandela’s life is surmised by the right in things that took place decades ago, that resulted in his imprisonment and eventual enlightenment and release whereby he chartered unprecedented waters in South Africa, in a manner befitting his counterparts such as Martin Luther King, and saw in his own lifetime the fruition of that labor in the ending of Apartheid by some of his own measures.
To be so obtuse as to dismiss his life as a whole in the manner which they do so is to demonstrate the most vulgar and damaging of human behavior. It is short sighted and likely fueled by something darker than the extreme right cares to admit.
To echo former Speaker Newt Gingrich: “What would you have done?”
And intellectual honesty demands that you recognize your very lineage in this country is preceded with people who did exactly what Mandela did.
See you out there.
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Dallas Hyland is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Email: [email protected]
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