Midday Open Thread
- President Obama’s words to the nation after receiving notice of Nelson Mandela’s death resonate with us all. Many of us who went to college in the 80’s were at the forefront of the divestiture movement. For many it was first foray into not only domestic politics but international politics and social justice.
- Interesting take on the ‘sanitization’ of Nelson Mandela.
As with King, it is this subversive aspect of Mandela’s legacy that is most in danger of being erased as he enters America’s pantheon of sanitized moral icons. But it is precisely the aspect that Americans most badly need. American power and human freedom are two very different things. Sometimes they intersect; sometimes they do not. Walking in Nelson Mandela’s footsteps requires being able to tell the difference.
- Al Sharpton silenced Meet The Press round table by putting into context America’s South African role. America was not a supporter of Nelson Mandela.
I think it is a betrayal of history to act as though as Nelson Mandela evolved the world embraced it. There was a real battle in this country,” Al Sharpton said. “So when Randall Robinson and Maxine Waters and Reverend Jackson led that fight … there was major contention. They were attacked for supporting communists. Let’s remember the ANC that he refers to, they were pursuing freedom. Many of the communist nations embraced them. This country did not. So it is not like they were born Marxist. They were born people seeking to be free. Some of the Marxist nations, either genuinely or in a self-interest way, tried to embrace that. This country did not, and fought that, and denounced them, and denigrated them. And I think that for us now to sugarcoat that is a betrayal of history. We chose sides. We chose the wrong side.
- Conservatives have a Mandela problem. Republicans were wrong about South Africa’s great liberator. Now they have to say something nice about him. And, many hope history is forgotten.
Throughout the Reagan administration, American conservatives regarded South Africa’s apartheid government as a bulwark against communism, especially compared to the rest of sub-Saharan Africa. A generation of conservative operatives, including the disgraced Jack Abramoff and the very influential Grover Norquist writes in National Review, “Like many other anti-Communists and Cold Warriors, I feared that releasing Nelson Mandela from jail, especially amid the collapse of South Africa’s apartheid government, would create a Cuba on the Cape of Good Hope at best and an African Cambodia at worst.”…
- Christo Brand, Nelson Mandela’s jailer talks.
Brand started to work on Robben Island in 1978 when he was 18 and Mandela was 60. Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island.
Eventually Brand grew to like Mandela and smuggled in special treats like bread and Mandela’s favorite hair pomade. Brand even sneaked in Mandela’s infant granddaughter so that the prisoner could hold her.
For his part, Mandela encouraged Brand to continue his education and maintained an interest in him and his family.
- Nelson Mandela on Twitter.
- Here is an interesting article on President Obama’s turn to verbalizing income inequality.
For Democrats—off their game after two months of healthcare.gov headaches—the tact back to inequality and middle-class woes is a welcome one. Everyone can get back to singing from the same song sheet. It’s a message that worked well for President Obama in 2012. In a non-presidential year, when the party’s base voters play a larger role than in a general election year, it’s music to the party’s most faithful followers. The president is “finally sounding like the progressive many of his supporters thought they were backing in 2008,” said Paul Krugman.