Given that the entire planet seems to be of one voice in both mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela and celebrating his life, most will find it inconceivable that anyone would think to so much as suggest that Mandela was anything less than the saint that his admirers are working tirelessly to depict him as.
But truth is truth and Mandela was no saint.
Mandela was a proponent of “democratic socialism” who, along with the South African Communist Party, unleashed a torrent of violence against his political opponents that included the bombing of government sites. He was convicted of “sabotage” and attempting to overthrow the government—charges to which he openly confessed at his trial. And in spite of having been released from prison in 1990 after serving 27 years and eventually becoming South Africa’s first black president, he remained on the United States Terror Watch list until as recently as 2008. The late Margaret Thatcher characterized Mandela’s African National Congress as a “typical terrorist organization.”
Ilana Mercer is a writer and former resident of South Africa who knows all too well about Mandela and his legacy. One of her books, Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa, includes a chapter chock full of interesting, but inconvenient, facts regarding the man who is now being lauded as never before.
Mercer informs us that long before apartheid came crumbling down, the government of South Africa offered to release Mandela from jail as long as he promised to renounce violence. Mandela, though, “refused to do any such thing [.]” Mercer adds that Mandela’s “TV smile has won out over his political philosophy, founded as it is on energetic income redistribution in the neo-Marxist tradition, on ‘land reform’ in the same tradition, and on ethnic animosity toward the Afrikaner.”
In 1992, two years after Mandela was set free, he was videoed at an event surrounded by members of the South African Communist Party, his own African National Congress (ANC), and “the ANC’s terrorist arm, the Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK), which Mandela led.” Courtesy of YouTube, all with eyes to see could now witness “Mandela’s fist…clenched in a black power salute” as the members of MK sang their anthem, a little song according to which they reaffirm their pledge to “‘kill them—kill the whites.’”
Mandela remained a socialist to the last, Mercer assures us, even though he cleverly—but transparently—“rebranded” it. Mandela’s was a racial socialism, a point established beyond doubt by the remarks he made in 1997. Mercer quotes Mandela insisting that “the future of humanity” cannot be “surrendered to the so-called free market, with government denied the right to intervene [.]” Mandela also declared the need for the “ownership and management” of the South African economy to reflect “the racial composition of our society” and criticized “the…capitalist system” in South Africa for elevating to “the highest pedestal the promotion of the material interests of the white minority.”
For the conceit of those Westerners who assume that Mandela’s thought is a justified response to the evils of apartheid, Mercer has just the treatment. She reminds us that Mandela and his ANC “had never concealed that they were as tight as thieves with communist and terrorist regimes—Castro, Gaddafi, Arafat, North Korea and Iran’s cankered Khameneis.” Mercer further reminds us that in addition to once cheering, “‘Long live Comrade Fidel Castro!’” Mandela referred to Gaddafi as “‘my brother leader” and Arafat as “‘a comrade in arms.’”
Moreover, though awarded by President George W. Bush in 2003 with the Medal of Freedom Award, Mercer observes that Mandela couldn’t resist issuing the harshest of indictments against America. “‘If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world,’” Mandela said, “’it is the United States of America.’” He added that “‘they,” meaning Americans, presumably, “don’t like human beings.’”
And what is Mandela’s legacy to his native South Africa? It is the purpose of Mercer’s book to show that it is nothing to write home about. “Since he [Mandela] came to power in 1994, approximately 300,000 people have been murdered.” “Bit by barbaric bit,” she writes, “South Africa is being dismantled by official racial socialism, obscene levels of crime—organized and disorganized—AIDS, corruption, and an accreting kleptocracy.”
Mercer’s book is a rarity inasmuch as it supplies us with a brutally frank account of the real South Africa that Nelson Mandela helped to bequeath to the world. While the rest of the world is busy singing hosannas to Mandela over the next few days, those of us who are interested in truth would be well served to visit it.