The Forgivification of Mandela

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Isn’t this how U.S., U.K. and South African apartheid powers portrayed Mandela for decades? Come on…tell us the truth!

I could title it some other ways: peacification, forgetization, or harmony-washing … Or, maybe, Gandhi’iting … of Mandela.

These are some of my own words from my own Orwellian dictionary. You decide which one best suits your needs. Let me know.

Nelson Mandela passed away on December 5, 2013. One of the greatest, global icons of resistance against inequality and oppression left for his eternal place in heaven. Next time you see a new, bright star lit up above the clear, autumn sky, that’s him.

Next time you see the star way up above, bow your head — in respect.

Eulogies are pouring in. From the mighty New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg News or BBC all the way to Jerusalem Post, Al Jazeera or Indian newspapers and TV are all talking about the great anti-apartheid leader’s enormous contribution and sacrifice to bring South Africa to freedom. No, they’re not forgetting to mention the Robben Island, where a racist, violent, tyrannical, murderous, forcibly-occupying regime prisoned Mandela for twenty-seven years.

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Well, maybe, they’re not describing it exactly the way I am. Like, the words racist and violent and tyrannical and murderous and forcibly-occupying and such are not being used in global, big media’s obituaries. Like, even if they’re using such words, they’re using it sporadically…maybe, once here, and once way back there. More often than not, they’re surgically removing those qualifiers.

When I was a journalism student at Columbia University, some of my esteemed professors said using such words in reporting would be editorializing. They said it would be activist journalism.

I asked them wouldn’t it be another variety of editorializing and activist journalism — which I now call Journalism of Exclusion — if a violent regime is not called violent, or if a brutal group of rulers is not called brutal — especially if I do it showing evidence of violence and brutality?

My esteemed journalism professors at Columbia University did not like my questions. Ah, well…

I moved on.

Global, big media, their global, big politicians, and their search engines and corporations are now asking us to move on. They ask us to forgive and forget the dark past Mandela and South Africa had to deal with, and move on.

They say Mandela did it himself: forgive and forget and move on. So, why can’t we?

Sure. We want to move on. But can we move on — unconditionally — without knowing the truth: the historical truth?

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A Time-ly Cover [Up].

New York Times wrote in its first major story after Mandela’s death: “Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Icon of Peaceful Resistance, Dies.” Quickly, as it always happens, numerous newspapers — American and global, big and small — copied the title, and printed stories. The mighty Associated Press did it too. Or, was it the AP that did it first, followed by the Times? Who knows? But you get my point.

But, guess what? New York Times changed the title to: Mandela’s Death Leaves South Africa Without Its Moral Center. Guess what? My Columbia Journalism School batch mate Lydia Polgreen did this “moral center” story.

I laughed. Had it not been her, I would laugh even harder. “Moral Center?” Is it morality Gandhi brand? Or, is it the center that Lydia emphasizing on? On both counts, she is wrong.

Sorry, Lydia, buddy!

New York Times and CNN and all these global clone media — big and small — must know what Mandela really stood for. And how the U.S., British and European government, along with the murderous, apartheid governments in South Africa, treated Mandela and his African National Congress until recently.

“In the eyes of many among the Western elites, Mandela was a Soviet-dominated terrorist until the day he walked out of jail, and into iconicity. Reagan put the ANC on the State Department terrorist organizations watch-list; this wasn’t undone until 2008. Reagan vetoed the South Africa sanctions bill, and was overridden — not before Jesse Helms fillibustered the override vote.”

Global, big media, under the leadership of New York Times, CNN and BBC, are distorting history. They’re gentrifying history, just the same way New York City administrations have gentrified Harlem or other historic sites that are symbols of its glorious equality and justice movements. We need to understand how they’re doing it, and why.

Forgiveness? Move on? Peaceful resistance?

Of course, peaceful must be the word we need to keep in mind. Nobody is preaching violence here. But, all of it — without knowing the history of the South African struggle? Or, for that matter, the Gandhi’fication of Indian history without knowing a century’s anti-British, anti-occupation struggle even before Gandhi showed up on the scene?

Very similar. Very similar. Just the people are places and times are different.

As the world remembers Mandela, here are some of the things he believed that many will gloss over. Article from http://thinkprogress.org/home/2013/12/06/3030781/nelson-mandela-believed-people-wont-talk/

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A genuine reporting in The Nation.

1. Mandela blasted the Iraq War and American imperialism. Mandela called Bush “a president who has no foresight, who cannot think properly,” and accused him of “wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust” by going to war in Iraq. “All that (Mr. Bush) wants is Iraqi oil,” he said.

2. Mandela called freedom from poverty a “fundamental human right.” Mandela considered poverty one of the greatest evils in the world, and spoke out against inequality everywhere. “Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times — times in which the world boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry and wealth accumulation — that they have to rank alongside slavery and apartheid as social evils,” he said. He considered ending poverty a basic human duty: “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is an act of justice.

3. Mandela criticized the “War on Terror” and the labeling of individuals as terrorists, even Osama Bin Laden, without due process. On the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008 himself, Mandela was an outspoken critic of President George W. Bush’s war on terror. He warned against rushing to label terrorists without due process. While calling for Osama bin Laden to be brought to justice, Mandela said, “The labeling of Osama bin Laden as the terrorist responsible for those acts before he had been tried and convicted could also be seen as undermining some of the basic tenets of the rule of law.”

4. Mandela called out racism in America. On a trip to New York City in 1990, Mandela made a point of visiting Harlem and praising African Americans’ struggles against “the injustices of racist discrimination and economic equality.”

5. Mandela embraced some of America’s biggest political enemies. Mandela incited shock and anger in many American communities for refusing to denounce Cuban dictator Fidel Castro or Libyan Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who had lent their support to Mandela against South African apartheid. “One of the mistakes the Western world makes is to think that their enemies should be our enemies,” he explained to an American TV audience. “We have our own struggle.” He added that those leaders “are placing resources at our disposal to win the struggle.” He also called the controversial Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat “a comrade in arms.”

6. Mandela was a die-hard supporter of labor unions. Mandela visited the Detroit auto workers union when touring the U.S., immediately claiming kinship with them. “Sisters and brothers, friends and comrades, the man who is speaking is not a stranger here,” he said. “The man who is speaking is a member of the UAW. I am your flesh and blood.”

Basically, what they are telling us is, please forgive us — for all the colossal crimes we have committed against you…until we do it again. And we shall do it again.

Enough said.

Just reporting, as truthfully as possible,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Now, that’s a fitting tribute. Yes, Mandela and MLK. My heroes.

6 thoughts on “The Forgivification of Mandela

  1. Dearest Partha,

    I learn SO much from your blogs. Please keep sharing them with the world. We all need to know the truth!

    Namaste.

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