By now, most of us know more about the former South African President, Nelson Mandela, than the moving 2009 Morgan Freeman movie, Invictus. However, unlike Mandela, there are many unknowns who fight to defend us from the overwhelming odds of global trading of souls, for bottom line indulgences, and they too deserve more from us than a televised eulogy.
Nelson Mandela was not the first peacemaker forgiving for equality, but his name is now indelibly chiseled into our long term memory, like Jesus of Nazareth, Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and although not initially grasping the dignity of equality as the source of civility and necessity for unity, Presidents Lincoln and Kennedy, and Bobby too.
Remember in 1948 South Africa, Apartheid, white racial superiority, was officially established as government; Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated; the American government initiated The Marshall Plan to rebuild post WWII devastated European economies so they could become customers of American corporations; and for voter intimidation, on election night the Florida Klu Klux Klan marched through African American neighborhoods, declaring support for presidential candidate, Strom Thurmond.
In Sharpeville the Apartheid government murdered sixty-nine people in 1960, while President Eisenhower tightened protections for voting rights of African-Americans in a segregated South, and warned of a growing Military Industrial Complex, making war for profit — which would soon make an art of guilt tripping the 99% with Support our Troops, while sacrificing Americans who Stand on the Wall, for the privileged few who had other priorities.
After being acquitted for treason in 1961, the Black Pimpernel, Mandela, became commander in chief of an underground guerrilla army; we in America were being asked to “…ask what you can do for your country.”
Following the world’s 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Mandela was found guilty in the 1963 Rivonia Trial, of being central to the crisis facing Apartheid. During his fourth of eighteen years in Robben Island prison, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Senator Robert Kennedy became Free At Last from the 1968 Republic of The United States of America.
Still Important things happen in the world all the time that we never see on our TV news, and in 1976 media coverage of The Rockets’ Red Glare during our Bi-Centennial, blinded us to 570 black South Africans killed protesting their government’s imposition of the Afrikaans’ language into black schools. Nonetheless it happened: the tide had turned, and the world, changed.
Sandwiched between Reagan’s 1981, Government is the Problem and 1983 invasion of Granada, Mandela was moved from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, but in 1989 his new President, Frederik de Klerk pledged to phase out the racial policies of Apartheid.
His goal achieved, during our 2012 elections we learned Mandela’s health was succumbing to the toll of twenty-seven years in prison, and after eight months of paid administrative leave, Davis Police officer, John Pike, received $38,000 settlement for pepper spraying non-violent university student protestors, in the Blue State of California.
On Sunday December 7, 1941 and Tuesday September 11, 2001, America was attacked, but unlike pompous media talking heads who served heads of state Nixon, Ford and Reagan, paving the great oil way to Bush/Cheney, neither Barack Obama nor Mandela ever claimed to be the second coming.
With so much underreported importance swirling around us — from empire building tendency, to borrowing billions for cash flow from toxic air China to resuscitate Too Big To Fail Wall Street — it’s important, if you have nothing to say, stop saying it Deborah Feyerick.
Perhaps Mandela’s greatest gift is his Moses like example. Though his mountaintop, a tiny cell, he entered an angry warrior and returned a prophet of forgiveness, with peace and equality his rod and staff.
Could Mandela’s life inspire American media to recapture in depth reporting on what is most worthy of attention, like Free Speech Zones, presidential nuclear talks instead of website glitches and the Peacemakers.