This week's syndicated column
Feeling soaked after the gushers of drenching hagiography that crashed over the world on the death of the Nelson Mandela, I have been trying to reconcile what I know with what we are supposed to believe.
For example, I know Mandela was a founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), the combat wing of the African National Congress, which was closely allied with the South African Communist Party. Starting in 1961, MK carried out hundreds of bombings, including of civilian targets. When Mandela was sentenced to life in prison in 1964, I know his crime was sabotage and related charges – not political opposition to apartheid, as we are supposed to believe, at least if those comparisons to symbols of non-violence, from Martin Luther King to, yes, Jesus Christ, are to stick.
Another founder of MK was Ronnie Kasrils, a Soviet-trained, South African Communist agent and militant, who, decades later, would serve President Mandela and then President Thabo Mbeki (also Soviet trained) in post-apartheid South African governments as a senior defense and later intelligence official. I mention Kasrils because two years after Mandela’s 1990 release from prison, Mandela and Kasrils were filmed in a group singing an MK song pledging to “kill the whites” – referring, of course, to white South Africans.
You can find this shocking singalong on Youtube, even if it didn’t appear on CNN – or, for that matter, Fox. Clearly, even such old footage complicates the hagiographic process. Meanwhile, in 2012, the current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, also an MK alumnus, took the public occasion of the 100th anniversary of the ANC to sing “Shoot the Boer” – a variation on this same theme. Weirdly, visible in the Zuma video (also on Youtube) is the same fake sign language “translator” whose bizarre appearance at the Mandela funeral caused a large security breach and even a small media ruckus.
What still escapes the world’s lens, however, is what this means. A rainbow did indeed arc over the building where Mandela lay in state, as the media breathlessly reported, but they continue to ignore the fact that in post-apartheid South Africa, white farmers, their families and farm workers are being targeted and brutally murdered in alarming numbers. The respected human rights organization Genocide Watch last year investigated and categorized the crisis as Stage 6 out of 8 stages of genocide. Mandela will always be known for striving for racial reconciliation, but, as South African-born journalist Ilana Mercer has pointed out, he never condemned this systematic, ongoing murder campaign.
In other words, there is more to see than what appears in the Mandela mirror.
During Mandela’s 27 years in prison, MK would receive Soviet aid and assistance from an array of Kremlin clients: military training from Libya and Cuba, bomb-making lessons from the IRA, intelligence lessons from East Germany’s Stasi. The (London) Telegraph has noted that Stasi-trained MK would “carry out brutal interrogations of suspected ‘spies’ at secret prison camps.”
Another fact: Due to Mandela’s advocacy of violence, Amnesty International didn’t classify him as a “prisoner of conscience.” Indeed, on being offered release (not for the first time) in 1985 in exchange for renouncing violence as a political weapon, Mandela refused.
A man of principle – but the principle in those decades was violent change, even revolution. The dream was to overthrow white minority rule in South Africa. But for many, there was always another goal, another dream: to replace the one-race-ruled “apartheid” state (evil) with a one-party-ruled Communist state (good?).
If we attempt quantify the crimes of apartheid in brief, we can point to some 7,000 “political deaths” of South African citizens over four decades of white minority rule. The ANC struggle against apartheid, meanwhile, was sponsored by the Soviet Union, conservatively estimated to have killed some 20 million citizens to preserve its totalitarian dictatorship and to force Marxism-Leninism on the rest of us. This global movement, according to “The Black Book of Communism,” resulted in 100 million deaths.
Question: Why is it only apartheid that was universally condemned, old South Africa having been morally and financially ostracized – but never, ever Communism, never ever the Soviet Union? (I discuss this stunning ideological Kremlin victory in my book American Betrayal.)
This is something to think about – but not while media and political elites reflect not on, but away from the darker complexities of the geopolitical struggle Mandela’s life and times so symbolically intersected with.
Little wonder communism doesn’t go away. “Today, the ANC officially claims still to be at the first stage … of a two-phase revolution,” British historian Stephen Ellis told the New York Times recently. “This is a theory obtained directly from Soviet thinking.”
And Mandela? Famously – infamously to old comrades such as Ronnie Kasrils – he failed to nationalize land and industry on his 1994 election as president, thus reneging on the Marxist principles in the ANC’s Freedom Charter. Still, there are other means of redistribution, as Ilana Mercer explains in her book, Into the Cannibal's Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Mercer writes that “racial socialism,” by which proportional racial representation is government-mandated across business and elsewhere in society, aptly defines today’s South Africa, and is something Mandela was in accord with.
Mandela was also in accord with his murderous comrades in the Soviet terror network. In Fidel Castro, whose prison state still outlaws dissent (and has shot between 15,000 and 18,000 Cubans since 1959), in Yasser Arafat, the blood-drenched father of the PLO and modern-day terrorism itself, Mandela saw friends and allies. “We consider ourselves comrades in arms,” Mandela declared in speaking with Moammar Gadhafi in 1990, two years after Libya brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. As the last winner of the Orwellianly named Lenin International Peace Prize in 1990, just before the Soviet Union dissolved, Mandela even went to some lengths to procure the gold medallion finally in 2002, according to the news site Russia Behind the Headlines. Why would someone want a medal from one of the two greatest human rights abusing states the world has ever seen (Communist China being the other)?
Don’t ask. Just look into the Mandela mirror. You’ll see nothing but rainbows.