Wednesday, February 05, 2003
Nelson Mandela Pt. Deux: I received some criticism for suggesting that former South African president Nelson Mandela's racemongering, anti-American statements may be attributed to drug use or possibly senility (he is 84).
The truth is, while it may be a little over the top, my suggestions were probably the tamest explanations for Annan's remarks.
Yesterday, National Review's Michael Ledeen took Mandela to task not just for his most recent remarks, but also for a pattern of less-than-noble actions since he stepped down from the South African presidency in 1999.
Mandela had a great opportunity to lead a democratic revolution in Africa, but he never even gave voice to cries for freedom for all Africans. Indeed, he lavished grotesque praise on many of the world's dictators, from Castro to Khadaffi, and repeatedly failed to intervene decisively at major potential turning points in countries like Zaire and Zimbabwe. Even now, an elderly retiree, he cannot bring himself to demand the removal of the mad tyrant Robert Mugabe, and he continues to genuflect before the dictators who supported the ANC in the bad old days.
Now he has unburdened himself of the accusation that President Bush is a megalomaniacal racist, about to unleash a new holocaust on the Arabs, and opposed to any U.N. role because Kofi Annan is a black man. He'd have done better to lambaste his own designated successor, President Mbeke, for his insane proclamations that AIDS is not caused by HIV, thereby justifying the government's failure to provide timely or adequate treatment to South Africa's AIDS victims. And he'd have done well to praise President Bush for being willing to commit huge amounts of American taxpayers' money to save Mandela's own infected people. No. He posed for the brain-dead anti-American crowd instead.
It's a pathetic spectacle, but entirely in keeping with the monumental failure of a man who could have been a great leader and world figure. Instead, he's failed his own country and his own destiny. He's become yet another African loudmouth, giving moral lessons to the world and tolerating corruption and misery on his own continent.
Of course, conservative commentators aren't the only ones criticizing Mandela. The Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman had this to say.
There are legitimate differences of opinion as to how to deal with the menace of Saddam Hussein, but your criticisms of President Bush and America are inappropriate and offensive. To accuse the U.S. of having racist motives in its determination to see the U.N. take strong action is to wrongly inject a theme which clearly has nothing to do with the issue at hand.
And to attack America, which has been the leader in bringing freedom to so much of the world, as a "country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world" and that doesn't care for human beings is grossly unfair, prejudicial, and simply wrong.
We who have admired you for so long do not believe these comments serve the goals of a freer, safer world, toward which the U.S. and South Africa are working. We hope that you will see fit to clarify your remarks.
Unfortunately, only former President Bill Clinton would have any hope of "clarifying" remarks such as those Mandela made into something that sounded reasonable -- and, frankly, I doubt that even Clinton could pull it off. What needs to happen is an about-face.
Mandela did some noble things in South Africa -- but the good that he did there does not entitle him to a free pass when he makes such outrageous statements. The fact that I'm not a Nobel Peace Prize winner (thank God), does not disqualify me from criticizing him.