Mandela, R.I.P.

MandelaTed Cruz and Newt Gingrich got into hot water in conservative neighborhoods for speaking positively of Nelson Mandela.

Allow me to join the illustrious company of Cruz and Gingrich.*

Sure, Mandela hobnobbed with communists. With the likes of Castro, goons like Gaddafi and other unsavory characters to boot. Mandela was not perfect. He wed Winnie, after all.

But one must consider his times. The mid-20th century was the era of colonial unraveling, even though South Africa was not, strictly speaking, a colony. But it sure looked like one. It waddled and quacked like a really ugly duck.

Also, the utter unworkability of communism had not become so clear in those days as it has become now. Red still looked like a potentially viable color. We know better now.**

But for a time, communism successfully donned the anti-colonial cloak.***

Mandela’s bravery was an inspiration to South Africa’s oppressed black majority. He was elected president once and refused to continue in the position when the term ended, a good democratic precedent.

South Africa is a democracy now. Whether that turns out well is yet to be seen. Other African democracies have gone astray. I predict South Africa will too.

But Mandela was a hell of a guy, flaws and all.


* * * *

* Both of whom would make great U.S. presidents.

** Alas, not everyone knows better now, proving the clueless will always be among us.

*** As communism collapsed with the Berlin Wall, “social democracy” à la Obama and Western Europe is collapsing too. The only viable system is liberty and free enterprise, which I am sure Mandela came to realize. He was no dummy.