Apparently someone important died this week...

If I didn't know better, I'd say that I'm the only one on the whole damn planet who isn't completely devastated by the passing of one Nelson Mandela. Fortunately, I do know better:
Richard Stengel, a former TIME reporter who worked closely with Nelson Mandela on the leader’s autobiography, told MSNBC hosts Friday morning that the late South African president wasn’t always saintly and possessed a very human capacity for anger and grudge-holding. 
“He was a pragmatic politician,” he told “Morning Joe” co-hosts Willie Geist and Mika Brzezinski. “He wasn’t a visionary necessarily, he wasn’t a philosopher, he wasn’t a saint. But he never deviated from [seeking democracy for black South Africans]. But anything that would get him there, he embraced, including violence.” 
“He created the violent wing of the ANC,” he continued. “And people don’t realize that and don’t remember that. We’ve kind of made him into a Santa Claus. He wasn’t. He was a revolutionary.” 
Stengel later claimed he always “smiled to himself” when people said Mandela harbored no anger or bitterness towards his captors. 
“He had tremendous anger and bitterness in his heart,” Stengel said. “His entire life was taken away from him.”
I do not question the fact that Mandela was a great man. There is no disputing or denying this. There is, however, a very real danger in turning a man- any man, fallible, flawed, and fallen- into a secular saint. And that, sadly, is precisely what the West has done with Mandela. The Indians did something similar with a chap named Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi- you may have heard the name? After his death at the hands of a Hindu nationalist, he was given the honorific "Mahatma", meaning "Great Soul", which gave revolutionaries, hippies, and the useful idiots of the Left free license to turn Gandhi into the figurehead for their views while overlooking his very human flaws. His economic philosophy of swadesh was adopted in part by India's government for decades, with the net result being that India's economy stagnated for close to 40 years before the government was forced into a corner and forced to modernise.

When remembering the great men of history, one should never forget both their triumphs and their flaws. In my own case, I honour the memory of Ronald Reagan as the exemplar of everything that a modern President should be- but I do not for one moment deny that he made a great many mistakes as President, and was far too fond of big-government spending for my liking. I revere the Founding Fathers, as most libertarians do- but there is no denying the fact that, when they achieved power, many if not most of the Founders often acted in ways quite contrary to their principles.

So it is with Mandela. Respect and honour his memory as the father of the modern South Africa, by all means- but never forget that he was not above using underhanded and violent means to achieve his ends.

I also rather wonder how long the violent tendencies of black nationalism can be suppressed now that Mandela is gone. Say what you will about his politics, the man did have a reputation for being a peaceful and charming man. That reputation has served to rein in some of the more dangerous and violent tendencies of black nationalism, until now. As Ilana Mercer points out repeatedly in her book, Into the Cannibal's Pot, there can be no question that democracy in South Africa has led to ethnic cleansing of the white minority. And I suspect that once the blacks of South Africa are done destroying the economic engine of their country, they will turn upon each other. It should never be forgotten, after all, that black Africa has proven singularly hopeless at maintaining the civilisations that the old European empires brought to them.


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