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The Legacy Of Nelson Mandela Essay

1169 words - 5 pages

While I appreciate your sober perspective on Mandela, Lane, I believe your criticisms are unfairly overreaching. His legacy is having left 27 years of imprisonment with an absence of revenge or rancor, but rather a commitment to a colorblind, democratic process. His fight was for the very same freedoms that we Americans won in the War of Independence from Britain. That, in and of itself, is accomplishment enough to warrant the accolades he now receives in death.

That said, his post-apartheid ambitions failed to materialize in part due to the enormity of the historical, cultural, and educational divide between the newly enfranchised black population and the minority white South Africans. Our founding fathers had no such impedimenta, what with the colonists being very well educated in relative comparison to the Kingdom of Britain and Europe for that matter. But as you reasonably argue, he was far less successful as a president than he was 'founding father' of South Africa. Does that diminish his earlier accomplishments?

Consider George Washington: A great military leader and 'freedom fighter' and yet his subsequent presidency was marked by scandal, allegations of corruption, and a frequently authoritarian attitude. Examples include his gross mishandling of the Whiskey Rebellion (Washington sent an army of 14,000 men to put asunder a handful of frontier rioters in a brutal show of force) and later "Jay's Treaty" (This was Washington's infamous political sellout to Great Britain. He not only refused to support the new republican forces in France, but he also allowed American foreign policy to revert back to being pro-British. Regarding France, our ally during the War of Independence, he showed a complete lack of sympathy for the same revolutionary principles that created the United States). Does his lack-luster performance as president diminish the reverence we bestow upon him? Hardly.

Interestingly, in the case of our own fight for independence, we came to rely upon France in order to defeat King George - despite King Louis XVI's reputation as a leader of a 'terrorist' state. An analogy could be drawn between Gen. Washington's pragmatic and unreserved willingness to accept France's aid (money, troops, training, intelligence, etc.) and Mandela's acceptance of aid from Cuba and Libya. Like 1770's France, they were (are) seen as unseemly and brutal terrorist states. Washington subscribed to the Arab axiom, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' much like Mandela did. It is telling that, despite Mandela's acceptance of help from these pariah states, he never attempted to apply their forms of government in South Africa. He was always an unabashed proponent of democratic values. To call him a communist because of whom he accepted help is disingenuous; the proof is in his subsequent actions as a statesman, much like our own Washington.

Regarding the notorious 1983 Church Street Bombing, which has been mentioned repeatedly on this thread, it has been...

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