With the death of Nelson Mandela, some American conservatives haven't spoken highly of South African leader, particularly in reference to his background that included flirtations with violence and Communism. But there are other voices on the right taking the opposite view, recognizing his transcendent leadership and principled fight against oppression.
Try this from an article by longtime Mandela supporter Newt Gingrich:
Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country. After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.
As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny. We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.
Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” ...
Doesn’t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?
Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.
Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.
I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.
Finally, if you had been imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of them in a cell eight foot by seven foot, how do you think you would have emerged? Would you have been angry? Would you have been bitter?
Nelson Mandela emerged from 27 years in prison as an astonishingly wise, patient, and compassionate perso …
As much as any person in our lifetime he had earned our respect and our recognition.
Before you criticize him, ask yourself, what would you have done in his circumstances?
There is this from the Washington Times:
Communists were right to support both the African National Congress and the cause of ending apartheid. Conservatives were on the wrong side of history on the issue. The true conservative position on apartheid should have been to oppose it...
The oppression of blacks under apartheid was far more morally odious than the oppression that the Founding Fathers opposed — and fought the Revolutionary War to destroy. It is repulsively hypocritical to maintain that Nelson Mandela was a terrorist for fighting for the freedom of his people, while reverencing the Founding Fathers of America for doing the same thing — under an indisputably less oppressive regime.
Finally, conservative columnist Deroy Murdock admits he had been wrong about Mandela in the National Review:
Like many other anti-Communists and Cold Warriors, I feared that releasing Nelson Mandela from jail, especially amid the collapse of South Africa’s apartheid government, would create a Cuba on the Cape of Good Hope at best and an African Cambodia at worst...
Nelson Mandela was just another Fidel Castro or a Pol Pot, itching to slip from behind bars, savage his country, and surf atop the bones of his victims.
Far, far, far from any of that, Nelson Mandela turned out to be one of the 20th Century’s great moral leaders, right up there with Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also was a statesman of considerable weight. If not as significant on the global stage as FDR, Winston Churchill, and Ronald Reagan, he approaches Margaret Thatcher as a national leader with major international reach.
Links to the quoted articles:
Deroy Murdock/National Review: