Left and right use Mandela's death as opportunity to bash their favorite bogeymen
December 6th, 2013
12:57 PM ET
9 months ago

Left and right use Mandela's death as opportunity to bash their favorite bogeymen

Updated 3:20 p.m. ET, 12/6/2013

Washington (CNN) – After South African icon Nelson Mandela’s death, many took to Twitter to say his life – and the way he forgave those who shackled him for 27 years – brought to light how America’s acrimonious political climate is small, petty and exasperating.

Others proved that point by using the African leader’s death as an opportunity to attack their favorite political bogeymen by sometimes engaging in strained arguments.

On the right: A number of conservative activists and commentators – while paying tribute to the life of Nelson Mandela – knocked him for being “a terrorist” and a number of other monikers demeaning the leader. They point to the fact that he drew support from leaders such as Fidel Castro and Moammar Gadhafi to link him with other Third World revolutionaries who have tended to be anti-American.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, in an appearance on Fox News, even compared apartheid – the brutal suppression of black South Africans that Mandela fought against – to Obamacare, President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care law.

“Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed,” Santorum said. “I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that.”

In response to Obama’s comments on Mandela, in which the President said he was “one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life,” Jennifer Rubin, a right-leaning blogger for the Washington Post, used the comparison to knock Obama.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz posted a respectful tribute to the leader. His supporters, however, didn’t hold Mandela in the same esteem.

“Sad to see you feel this way Ted. He was a terrorist. I guess you have only seen the Hollywood movies,” posted Tom Griffin in a comment that received 76 likes. “Sorry Ted, I found something I disagree with you on,” posted Dusty Roop. “Mandella was a terrorist. Plain and simple. Hid regime was brutal. He was not a hero. You have listened to lies.”

“Sorry senator u be wrong on this one,” George Taylor posted. “He is nothing or was nothing but a criminal.”

These comments were the tamest of the bunch. Some were too graphic to publish.

Not all commenters agreed with the ugliness.

“For Christ's sake the man just died,” posted Michael Levesque. For that, some called Levesque a “stupid low information Marxist.”

On the left: Shortly after the leader’s death was announced, commentators and journalists on the left began to point out that Mandela was not removed from the U.S. terrorist watch list until 2008 as a way to attack George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan – their long-term villains.

Liberal documentarian Michael Moore tweeted, “Reagan put Nelson Mandela on US terrorist watch list. We didn't get around to taking him off until 2008.”

And the Facebook page Being Liberal used Mandela’s death to slam Bush on the Iraq War.

“If you have ever been supporting George W. Bush and his War in Iraq you are entitled to share Mandela's memes ONLY with a public admission that you were wrong,” the page said by posting a story about Mandela speaking out against the Iraq War. “The best way to honor Mandela's Legacy would be to listen to wise men in the USA AND around the World BEFORE they die.”

Like on Cruz’s Facebook page, many spoke out against using Mandela’s death as a way to score political points.

“Please don't use his death to make us liberals look better or to make someone else, like bush, look bad. That's just not right,” posted Wesley Kayne.

“Is it really too much to ask for you to wait 24 hours before you start using the man as a prop,” wrote Tyler Neafcy.

In an interview on MSNBC, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews said South Africa's last apartheid president, F.W. de Klerk, saw the writing on the wall and released Mandela from prison in order to facilitate the transition to the new South Africa. Matthews compared that struggle to the fight between establishment and tea party Republicans and especially called out Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who said the "single-most important thing" he wanted to achieve was to make Obama a "one-term" president.

"For him [de Klerk] to recognize his role in history which was to be a patriot at that point is so different than the way Mitch McConnell handled the election of Obama," Matthews said. "We have real people in this country with real power and status who have used that status of power to hurt the country so they could hurt the president."
One other boogeyman left leaning commentators seized upon was former Vice President Dick Cheney.

As a congressman from Wyoming Cheney did vote against 1986 sanctions against South Africa.

Corn was not alone in quickly pointing out the Cheney connection. Comments on Twitter and Facebook blasted Cheney for not supporting Mandela just hours after Mandela’s death was announced.


Filed under: Nelson Mandela • Politics
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Sandy

    How could the left pointing out that Cheney SUPPORTED Apartheid meant the left was attacking the right? I'm so sick of these false equivalence! The right is ATTACKING Mandella, the left is just pointing out that the right was, well, WRONG!

    December 6, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    It's shameful to use this great man's death as a political hammer. But, it should be noted that it is actual Republican politicians making ugly remarks, compared to liberal political bloggers responding to those remarks. That's a huge difference.

    December 6, 2013 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  3. smith

    Only people with no shame would use a tragedy or a person`s death to score political points. However, this happends all the time by both sides of the aisle. Sandy Hook, Katrina, JFK, Waco, Ruby Ridge, and the list goes on and on.

    December 6, 2013 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  4. luke,az

    Republicans are practicing apartheid in the United states. Just as apartheid was defeated in South Africa, Republicans will be defeated here.

    December 6, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. Fair is Fair

    Sad state of affairs we have in this country.

    December 6, 2013 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    “Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed,” Santorum said.
    ----------------------------------------------
    The man hasn't even been dead for 24 hours and you PATHETIC people are already politicizing this. Mr. Santorum, don't fool yourself. The oppression that South Africans felt under apartheid is no different than what was going on in the Jim Crow south. I have a bunch of white friends and don't hold them accountable for their ancestors actions, but take a look at yourself and bear witness to those who've committed these atrocities against people of color from the African to the American Indian to the African American.

    December 6, 2013 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  7. Woman In California

    Americans will use any means at their disposal (just look at the job numbers) to score political points. Why would anyone expect the great N. Mandela's death to be off limits?

    December 6, 2013 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  8. Swedge70

    It's funny, after reading this story, to think about how the right-wing commenters on here frequently talk about those on the left being the party of hate. Righties have no sense of irony whatsoever, so they won't understand why I think it's funny, but rational people will get it.

    December 6, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. Lolo

    I knew that the truly conservative right wing nuts would use Mandela's death against President Obama. People if you really think that the GOP is not racist then vote for them, otherwise vote the clowns out. With their nonsense and hypocrisy who can trust these idiots. They really are American terrorists and do not want the country to move forward, because we have a black president. Just shameful.

    December 6, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. rs

    No one should use Mr Mandel's life as a weapon in cheap political gotcha games. It simply isn't respectful. Saying that however, the bold hypocracy award has to go to Mr. Santorum who compared being made responsible for one's health insurance just the same as battling apartied.
    Oy!

    December 6, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Lolo

    I guess he is a terrorist like Dick Cheney who blew our spy cover, Like the idiot in Russia who is giving up all of Americas top secrets. Mandela was only trying to get freedom and justice for all in South Africa for the many blacks who the white Europeans did not want to have just like white America in the U.S. If that makes him a terrorist then so be it. You people are just pathetic. Just admit the truth that you hate blacks and any other minority who doens not look like you. What is funny is that even the poor whites think that they are better than Blacks no matter what, while they are living off of the government roll. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 6, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  12. NameFrank Deery

    Liberal media finally has a convvenient cover
    for the mess this country is in, via Mandela's
    no 1 fan: Obama. Most Americans, faced with rising crime, Health Care woes, and bad
    weather are not, like me, giving a hoot in hell
    for the expected demise of an overrated Communist-at 95! Over-hyped and overrated
    icon. That Obama is actually flitting off to the
    funeral as his own nation fizzles under his watch, shows the ineptness of this man

    Sorry! Sanctions, not Mandela, brought South Africa back to reality. Sadly, under Obama, Iran will have A Bomb-as santions
    "relax" under Obama and "gun-boats" Kerry.

    December 6, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Mersa

    I dont think you American's really know what a hero is!!! I am always lough when I hear the word from an American commentator or senator or whatever. You guys never seen a hero, or met or never heard about a hero, but you know the word; since it is your language...no no your opressors language. A hero is a person wh

    December 6, 2013 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. ST

    Have people lost their mind?? Mandela never went to other country and start fighting anyone. He was at his own country fighting for his right and his fellow citizens. The number one terrorists are "W" and Cheney who went as far as to the desert (Iraq) and tore their country into pieces, claiming innocent lives and left a lot disabled.

    December 6, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  15. Thomas

    For those who believe Apartheid no longer exists , your wrong .

    December 6, 2013 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  16. shorething

    Obama praised Mandela as one of his hero's, But Obama also said Lincoln was one of his hero's so much he used a Lincoln bible to be sworn in as President but he would not go to the Gettysburg address memorial. Does Obama only really have reverence to black leaders, cause he seems to only show up to the memorials of past black leaders.

    December 6, 2013 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    but he would not go to the Gettysburg address memorial. Does Obama only really have reverence to black leaders, cause he seems to only show up to the memorials of past black leaders.
    -------------------------------------------------
    What a ridiculously petty and uniformed thing to post for the entire world to read.
    President Obama did not attend the Gettysburg address memorial, he was paying homage on that day at the Kennedy memorial site.
    Kennedy if you will recall was white.
    @ cnn
    Why do you provide such a willing stage for the hate-filled dumb a sses that populate our beloved country?
    It is mortifyingly embarrassing to have the rest of the world think that our country is comprised mostly of mental midgets just because they scream the loudest and get posted the most.

    December 6, 2013 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. Rudy NYC

    shorething

    Obama praised Mandela as one of his hero's, But Obama also said Lincoln was one of his hero's so much he used a Lincoln bible to be sworn in as President but he would not go to the Gettysburg address memorial. Does Obama only really have reverence to black leaders, cause he seems to only show up to the memorials of past black leaders.
    --------------------------–
    Pres. Obama has been invited by the Mandela family to speak at the state funeral. The annual Gettysburg recreation is sponsored by a private group. Did anyone from that group actually invite the President to speak? Hmm? Had Pres. Obama attended the celebration would you be applauding him for his particpation, or criticizing him for taking trips at taxpayer expense?

    December 6, 2013 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  19. Laverne

    Republicans are terrorist, they hate Americans who are not like them and will try and destroy them at all cost! Some of the most hateful group of people I have ever seen, just as bad as the KKK!!!!

    December 6, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. tcaud

    I'm driven to anger over this article. There can be no doubt: CNN's political unit is unreliable. I think I'll stay at MSNBC from now on, and point to this article as a good reason why. This unit needs to be shut down.

    December 6, 2013 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  21. SeattleMM

    Nelson Mandela was a great man, albeit an imperfect one, whose life should be remembered with dignity and respect. Apartheid was a model for "papers please" laws that have been passed in the U.S. recently by conversative legistlators. Those laws should be repealed as a tribute to the memory of Mr. Mandela.

    December 6, 2013 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |