Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Mandela standard

During our perusal of the papers yesterday during a break from museum going (The Guardian and The Evening Standard which we bought and a Daily Mail which I found on the Tube), Nelson Mandela featured twice in a justification for terrorism.

You know the old adage, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Well, I guess Nelson Mandela is now "universally" seen as the standard for the freedom fighter.

In an article in The Guardian, Adam Nicholson says:

No one, I think would put the attempt to liberate the Newchurch
guinea pigs on a par with the anti-apartheid campaign in South Africa... But
perhaps the two struggles are not as far apart as you think.

The guinea pig farm in Newchurch is run by the Hall family and after years of harrassment by animal liberationists, they have decided to get out of the guinea pig business. They and their friends and relatives have been subject to intimidation, a pedophilia smear campaign, arson attacks, explosions and perhaps most disgustingly one of their old dead relatives was dug up from the local churchyard and her body is still missing.

But Adam Nicholson argues that if the animal rights folks had resorted to only legal, peaceful protests, the Halls would still be raising guinea pigs for scientific experiments. Unfortunately, because the Halls are phasing out their business (rather than face bankruptcy) and won't be finished with the fluffy critters until December, there are still going to be protests outside their home. He says:

Mandela's term for his control of [the Spear of the Nation, armed wing of the ANC] was "properly controlled violence." Seen simply in tactical and strategic terms, that phrase would be perfectly appropriate for the things that the animal rights activists have been doing to the Halls, their friends, families, employees and neighbours. ....the campaign to close down the guinea pig sheds will surely look like a violent, necessary and ugly step on the long march to freedom.


Even sicker is Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone's concerns about Home Secretary Charles Clarke's new standards for deportation. In the Evening Standard, Red Ken is reported as saying

that the new laws on banning terrorists should be rejected if they fail to pass the "Nelson Mandela test." If some of the proposed new legislation had been in force 20 years, he pointedout, it could have led to supporters of the anti-apartheid struggle by Mr Mandela's African National Congress being deported. Mr Livingstone also said that it would be wrong to ban from Britain controversial Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi who has said Palestinians are entitled to use suicide bombers against Israeli forces. He claimed that Al-Qaradawi was "probably the most respected progressive Muslim cleric in the world".

Progressive toward what? Toward a global Islamic caliphate. Toward punishing gays and repressing women?

(Why in the world does Ken continue to support this guy? See Harry's Place for more on this.)

Both Red Ken and Adam Nicholson fail to understand what really happened with apartheid. It wasn't the violence of Nelson Mandela that brought an end to that injustice in South Africa, after all he was locked up and couldn't commit any acts of violence. It was the whole world turning against that nation and its nasty, racist ways that brought F. W. De Klerk to the point where real changes were made. It wasn't violence that brought about the sanctions, but literate and compelling arguments from South Africans black and white. And it wasn't Nelson Mandela's violence, but his statesman-like leadership (unfortunately not seen currently in South Africa) which helped forge a new nation on a new path.

No excuses for terrorism.

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