Mandela Eulogies: Reinventing His Disturbing Legacy
by Stephen Lendman
Mainstream praise is virtually unanimous. It ignores reality. It got short shrift. It reinvents Mandela’s disturbing legacy. It turned a Thatcherite into a saint. A previous article discussed it.
Editorials, commentaries, and feature articles read like bad fiction. Tributes are overwhelming. They reflect coverup and denial.
The true measure of Mandela is hidden from sight. It’s willfully ignored. Illusion replaced it.
Obama issued a disingenuous statement. He called Mandela “a man who took history in his hand, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice.”
“We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again.”
They infest world governments. They run America. They inflict enormous harm. Mandela exceeded the worst of South African apartheid injustice. He deserves condemnation, not praise.
White supremacy remains entrenched. Extreme poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, malnutrition, and lack of basic services for black South Africans are at shockingly high levels. They’re much worse than under apartheid.
Mandela embraced the worst of neoliberal harshness. His successors followed the same model. They still do.
They’re stooges for predatory capitalist injustice. They’re figureheads. They enforce white supremacist dominance. They betray their own people in the process.
Black South Africans are some of the world’s most abused, neglected and deprived people anywhere. They suffer out of sight and mind.
Mandela could have changed things. He never tried. He didn’t care. He sold out to wealth, power and privileged interests. He did so shamelessly. His life ended unapologetically.
South African conditions today remain deplorable. Neoliberal harshness works this way. Business as usual is policy. Disadvantaged millions are ruthlessly exploited.
Privileged interests alone are served. Doing so reflects financial, economic and political terrorism. It’s commonplace globally. It infects Western societies. It plagues South Africa.
Injustice is deep-seated. It’s nightmarish in South Africa. Mandela’s legacy reflects the worst of all possible worlds short of war, mass slaughter and destruction.
Free market mumbo jumbo inflicts enormous pain and suffering. It empowers corporate interests. It benefits privileged elites. It does so at the expense of deprived millions.
Ordinary people don’t matter. They suffer out of sight and mind. They do so horrifically in South Africa. Major media ignore it. Mandela praise continues.
Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller headlined “Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Liberator as Prisoner and President, Dies at 95.”
Mandela was more enslaver than liberator. Not according to Keller. He called him “an international emblem of dignity and forbearance.”
He symbolized injustice. Keller called him “a capable statesman, comfortable with compromise and impatient with the doctrinaire.” He ignored the enormous harm he caused. He turned truth on its head doing so.
Washington Post editors headlined “Nelson Mandela brought the world toward a racial reconciliation.”
They called Gandhi, King and Mandela transformative figures. They “helped create a new ethic through the power of their ideas and the example of their lives,” they said.
Gandhi and King deserve praise. Mandela deserves condemnation. Not according to WaPo editors.
“Mandela,” they said, “dismantl(ed) the strong web of racist ideas, with which certain Western thinkers had sought for more than a century to rationalize the subjugation of others through colonialism, segregation and disenfranchisement.”
Mandela continued the worst of these practices. Black South African suffering deepened on his watch. He did nothing to relieve it.
He’s gone, said WaPo editors. It’s “more important than ever – in a century marked so far by frightening eruptions of terror and religious intolerance – to keep before the world the name and example of Nelson Mandela.”
Doing so requires explaining facts, not fiction. It involves stripping away false illusions. It demands telling it like it is fully, accurately, impartially and dispassionately.
Wall Street Journal editors headlined “Nelson Mandela.” They called him a “would-be Lenin who became Africa’s Vaclav Havel.”
He was no Lenin. He defended capital’s divine right. He did it at the expense of social justice. He’s no candidate for sainthood.
Journal editors perhaps think otherwise. They called him an “all too rare example of a wise revolutionary leader.”
“Age mellowed him…He walked out of jail an African Havel…He opened up (South Africa’s) economy to the world, and a black middle class came to life,” they said.
He sold out to powerful white interests. Apartheid didn’t die. It flourishes. Mandela deepened the scourge of injustice.
No black middle class exists. A select few share wealth, power and privilege. The vast majority of black society is much worse off than under apartheid.
Don’t expect Journal editors to explain. They called the “continent and world fortunate to have” Mandela. Neoliberal ideologues think this way.
Chicago Tribune editors headlined “Nelson Mandela, conscience of the world,” saying:
He “was more than just a symbol. His name was a clarion call for people across the globe in their struggles against oppression.”
“He personified the triumph of nearly unimaginable perseverance over nearly unimaginable tribulation.”
“His top priority was to oversee the creation of a new constitution, guaranteeing equality for all.”
“He also brought together disparate elements of the country, black and white, to address the grinding poverty and homelessness that afflicted his country.”
If one person could be called the conscience of the world, it would be Nelson Mandela.”
“The best way for us to truly honor his life, his suffering, and his memory is to uphold the values he embodied and fight the injustices he forced the world to confront. His inspiration is universal, his legacy timeless.”
Fundamental journalistic ethics require truth, full disclosure, integrity, fairness, impartiality, independence and accountability.
Tribune editors ignore these fundamental principles. So do their mainstream counterparts.
Los Angeles Times editors headlined “South Africa after Mandela.” They called him “one of the towering figures of the 20th century.”
“(H)e was revered around the globe for his vision and courage, and for the enormous personal sacrifices he made to right the wrongs that plagued his country,” they said.
LA Times editors reinvented history like their counterparts. It didn’t surprise.
Boston Globe editors headlined “Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013: A rare vision of magnanimity,” saying:
His “remarkable vision of leadership (helped) overturn South Africa’s vicious apartheid regime.”
He “was a pillar of grace, magnanimity, and restraint in victory.”
“His stable hand helped maintain (South Africa’s) status as a top economic engine on the African continent.”
He “proved that progress was possible.”
Privileged whites during his tenure benefitted hugely. Black society suffered horrifically. It still does. Mandela’s no hero. Don’t expect Globe editors to explain.
Major media editors turn truth on its head. They do it consistently. They do it repeatedly. Countless editorials and commentaries praised Mandela. They proliferate like crab grass. They’re still coming.
Headlines below reflect common sentiment:
“Nelson Mandela: a leader above all others”
“Nelson Mandela’s place in history.”
“Nelson Mandela, rest in peace”
“Nelson Mandela: Farewell to a visionary leader”
“Freedom is Nelson Mandela’s legacy”
“Nelson Mandela, historic icon of peaceful equality”
“Mandela, a moral force for the ages”
“Mandela, the transcendent ‘South African Moses’ “
It’s hard choosing which one is worst. Mandela was more pied piper of Hamelin than Moses. He was no patron saint of impoverished, oppressed and deprived South African blacks.
He sold out to power and privilege. His legacy reflects the worst of neoliberal harshness. Conditions during his tenure exceeded apartheid’s dark side.
They’re worse today. Inequality is institutionalized. So is apartheid. Democracy is more illusion than reality.
Black stooges serve white supremacist interests. Fundamental human and civil rights don’t matter. Corporate interests count most.
Government of, by, and for everyone equitably is nowhere in sight. Don’t expect scoundrel media editors to explain.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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