by Michael Coren
In Britain, a man was arrested, questioned for eight hours, had his computer confiscated for investigation and was DNA tested and fingerprinted. His crime? He made a joke about how his laptop took so long to shut down he should call it Nelson Mandela.
Not funny, perhaps tasteless, but completely innocuous. Britain is submerged in political correctness these days, but the incident also says a great deal about the Mandela hagiography industry.
He was a man of immense personal grace and dignity, with an ability to forgive that was magnificent. He was often gentle, kind and farsighted, and envisaged a free, liberal, and strong South Africa free of hatred. He also became the icon of the struggle against the evils of apartheid.
But he also left a country internationally notorious for murder, rape, AIDS, poverty, carjackings, unemployment, corruption and racial division.Indeed there are black leaders who argue that their people, while obviously victimized by institutionalized racism, were economically better off under apartheid than under the ANC.
They point to 30% unemployment rates in the country as a whole, rising to beyond 40% for the black community.
They argue the rights of black workers are as minimal as they were under minority rule, highlighted by the police killing of 44 striking miners in Marikana in 2012.
Housing for the majority of black South Africans is still deplorable, townships have improved hardly at all and violence within poor black communities is endemic.
Mandela can’t be blamed for all of the failures of his successors, and the challenges of the country are enormous, but his period as president was far from stellar. And while attempts at reconciliation were exemplary, he was weak on economic policy and failed to halt the clawing corruption of the ANC government.
The country’s foreign policy is also a disaster, witnessing an increasingly intimate relationship with China and a refusal to condemn that country’s support for murderous, oppressive regimes in Sudan, Burma, and Zimbabwe. South Africa has also become a base for numerous Islamic jihadist groups, to the point where Israelis have been advised not to visit the country due to security concerns.
The added tragedy is that none of these negative trends show any signs of reversing, and South Africans — white and black — live in fear of the most sadistic crimes and assume that an inefficient and often indifferent police force will never catch the culprits.
The whites who stayed in South Africa tended to be those who had hopes and optimism for the new rainbow nation, but in a recent survey more than 20% of them said they believed apartheid to have been superior to what they have now.
Extremism, paranoia and conspiracy theories abound, ethnic tensions are always just below the surface and refugees from neighbouring states are victims of violence if not murder.
I don’t really care if Mandela was once pro-Communist or flirted with violence, in that he was the victim of a brutal, hateful regime.
I do care, though, that he is being lauded as the man who saved a country that is about as far from genuine salvation as we can imagine. It’s simply a lie.
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