Wow. In the year 2013, you still can’t even feign condolences and act like you care about the passing of one of history’s foremost champions of human rights without facing a rhetorical firing squad from the Republican party’s base.
Senator Ted Cruz, who recently managed to show just enough self-restraint and discipline to get through a whole public statement without using the word “Obamacare,” which would have been news enough for me, but then he went ahead and said something unforgivable by historical standards of GOP decency and civility:
Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free.
We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.
One might read that and suspect Sen. Ted Cruz is attempting to co-opt Nelson Mandela’s life’s work as one based upon Right wing conservative ideology of ‘standing firm on principles,’ while insinuating that freedom from the chains of Obamacare is only a strong, charismatic leader short, and an ‘epic fight’ away from some great victory against their tyrannical oppressors.
They are adorable.
Responses have been pretty predictable from the Republican party’s despicable base of cranks, kooks, and trolls. But these are people who came of age and were politically motivated during America’s own modern day, pro-Apartheid regime that spans Ronald Reagan through Dick Cheney. It wouldn’t be until 2008 that the U.S. officially took Nelson Mandela off the terrorist watch list– long after history had relegated conservative arguments to the contrary wrong-headed and intellectually-violent.
But today, even treading the safe waters of praise for someone like Nelson Mandela, with Republican leaders racing to social media to pretend they care about the passing of an historical icon who fought against pretty much everything they stand for, the base isn’t playing along with this little exercise in make-good “RINO” politics.
This is the reprehensible worldview that Republicans have historically cultivated and are counting on to be the engine of the future that continues the work of driving American policy off the rails as they reclaim ‘their country.’
What should be obvious today, is that when President Obama came into office, he got there in large part by applying Nelson Mandela’s call for peace and understanding through reconciliation to his own call for unity, healing, and forgiveness post-Bush. By taking the prosecution of key members of the Bush/Cheney administration off the table for their innumerable, lingering crimes against humanity, President Obama was essentially carrying the torch for Nelson Mandela.
And they continue to attack him for being a “Communist/Socialist/Terrorist sympathizer,” among other things, even while they’re attempting to slip in some easy, public relations praise for Nelson Mandela.
The ugly, recurring face of ignorance, hate and greed is always trying to overthrow humanity’s best hopes for peace, democracy, and reconciliation.
They call it “freedom!”