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Conservativism and Mandela

December 7, 2013

Looked strange seeing conservative memes pause the attacks on Obama to eulogize Mandela. Of course, they did not feel this way about him 30 years ago.

How American Conservatives Turned A Blind Eye To South African Apartheid http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/07/conservatives-south-africa-apartheid_n_4404684.html

Regarding “contemporary conservative anxieties about race”, quotes this article
“Why Conservatives Got Segregation Wrong a Second Time in South Africa” http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2013/12/mandela-and-conservative-racial-blindness.html, making this excellent point:

The distinguishing element of conservative thinking on race is the belief that, at any given moment, the balance of actual or threatened power is arrayed against whites. The conservative line often concedes that whites may have sinned against blacks in the past, and may even continue to do so, but that at the present moment the risk lies in taking things too far in the opposite direction.

A failure to grasp the historical character of racism is not merely a recurring problem for conservative racial thought, it is its defining quality

They could also add to Reagan, Margaret Thatcher. This makes it ironic how she was the one chosen for this meme, jumping quickly back to politicizing everything into condemnation of Obama, this time, for promising to attend Mandela’s funeral, but not Thatcher’s:
(From National Liberty Federation group) or image
(One commenter pointed out “Thatcher aided in some of the worst genocide of the Irish Republic”)

The NYMAg article also points out well:

Ed Kilgore — citing Stephen Budiansky’s The Bloody Shirt, a history of the post–Civil War South I haven’t yet read — explains, “The subtext of Budiansky’s book is the extent to which white southerners convinced themselves and white people outside the South that they were the victims of Reconstruction, not the active and passive perpetrators of a strategy of organized terror designed to make the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution a dead letter.” As ridiculous as it may sound today to view the South of more than a century ago as a place where the cause of black equality had advanced too far, it really was true that Reconstruction was a large, intrusive program imposed from Washington.

There we see the apparent “legitimate” claim of victimization!

Conservatives have either abandoned or revised away their historical opposition to civil rights. But two decades after the end of Jim Crow, the struggle over South Africa gave them a second chance to get segregation right. Overwhelmingly, they failed it. But time and again, their response to historical error is to suture themselves off from history.

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