The Reprehensible Use of Mandela’s Legacy to Support Oppression

One of the greatest and most repulsive of tactics employed by repressive regimes and bigoted ideologues is the co-opting of the

Mandela's image on a bad held by a San Francisco protester against Israel's assault on Gaza in 2009. [Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes, published under a Creative Commons license]

Mandela’s image on a bad held by a San Francisco protester against Israel’s assault on Gaza in 2009.
[Photo courtesy of Steve Rhodes, published under a Creative Commons license]

legacies of great figures in the fight for justice and freedom. It never fails to happen, and it is never anything less than morally reprehensible. Not surprisingly, there has been plenty of it since Nelson Mandela’s passing, and equally unsurprising, Israel has been among the leaders in this practice.

Now, let me be clear, Israel is not unique in this regard. Indeed, the lunatic right wing in the United States which has been so influential in destroying US politics and the US economy, which has led the US into disastrous wars that have wreaked havoc on the globe but which, thankfully, is at least losing the social battles in the United States has raised this practice almost to an art form. Consider the recent statement of GOP congressional candidate from Illinois, Ian Bayne, comparing the anti-LGBT, racist and …well, the list of bigotries is too long, statements of Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson to the actions of none other than Rosa Parks:

“In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians…What Parks did was courageous. What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too.” Continue reading

Where is the Palestinian Mandela?

In this week’s column at Souciant, I take on that tired refrain about the “lack of a Palestinian Mandela” and use it to explore the real problem of poor Palestinian leadership. This was in evidence just recently in a spat between Salam Fayyad and Mahmoud Abbas. That weak leadership has been supported in many ways by the US and Israel, to the detriment of all of us. Incompetents and quislings may be the preferred leaders in Jerusalem and Washington, but that preference rises only out of shortsightedness. We are not going to see a resolution of this conflict if there is no room for strong, independent and sensible Palestinian leadership….