Log in

No account? Create an account
Previous Entry Share Next Entry
(no subject)
BBC's "Have Your Say", arguably the most obnoxious troll pit outside of the Guardian's "Comment is Free", has managed to surprise me.

I'm now left trying to understand the motivations of the people who would condemn Nelson Mandela (now, not even during apartheid) as a terrorist. Obviously a bunch of them are probably resentful racists, grasping at whatever opportunity they can find to discredit a man whose politics are diametrically opposed to their own. But outside of that, there's another group that I hadn't really considered before..

Loathe though I am to refer to the "political compass", the upward axis refers to the extent to which a person exhibits authoritarian traits, and it's that tendency that I think is responsible here.

The only context in which I can imagine a person genuinely believing Mandela to be a terrorist is if they're so blinded by a respect for arbitrary authority that they can't conceive of violence as an appropriate response to state oppression.

An authoritarian would look at civil unrest in Soweto, see the police beating poor black kids on the streets, and would instinctively feel like they had probably done something to deseve it. Without necessarily feeling that the power structures in the country were fair, they would nevertheless probably believe that the government is trying to do its best with a bad situation, and that the police are ultimately there to protect law and order, and were probably provoked into anything they did.

Under these delusions that authority (which is almost always derived from power rather than any qualification) is always right, I can possibly see how such a person might arrive at the conclusion that attacking the state is always bad. Why did the ANC not try harder to negotiate? How can a "good" person ever advocate violence in support of their cause? All of these questions typically come from those who sit on the right wing of politics, towards the authoritarian end of the spectrum. A lack of relative perspective combined with an absolute view that might is right naturally leads to the belief that all "freedom fighters" are "terrorists".

What surprised me though was the very idea that the belief that Mandela was a terrorist could persist even after the end of apartheid, even as worldwide public opinion snapped back to the "correct" view (which was that the government of South Africa at times bordered on genocidal, and that any and all means to resist and overthrow that government were justified).

Just a bit of an eye opener really.. To believe that the ANC were the principle instigators of terror in apartheid-era South Africa betrays a very serious ignorance of the power dynamic at the time, or else a very twisted view about when direct action becomes necessary. Either way, the world is a slightly sadder place now that I know such people still exist...

  • 1
It's like he's a terrorist on a technicality. I remember being disappointed back in the 80s because Amnesty International wouldn't do anything for him because they did not take on the cause of anyone who advocated violence. I get that in principle, but we are talking about a system that simply denied the humanity of the majority of the population. How are you supposed to negotiate in such a system?

  • 1