November 18, 2010

Mandela myth

It's funny how the establishment all love Nelson Mandela.  I think it's because he has been so forgiving of his enemies.  But how do they reckon him some kind of peacenik?  I don't know but apparently the Independent's Dominic Lawson has him down as just that:
Aung San Suu Kyi...told an interviewer: "We are convinced that the non-violent approach is the best. In the long run it pays off, even if that run is longer because of its non-violent nature."
Essentially the same approach was adopted by Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, but not by Robert Mugabe.
The non-violent approach is a desperately hard road to tread for such freedom fighters and Aung San Suu Kyi, King and Mandela were all criticised from within their own movements for subjecting them to such a difficult discipline.
Did Lawson really believe what he wrote? The necklaces were small beer in terms of the armed campaign of the ANC against apartheid but the necklaces were pretty damn violent, highly visible and very memorable. Bernard North, in the letters page, remembers:
The limits of non-violence
Dominic Lawson (Opinion, 16 November) advocates the policy of peaceful protest, drawing on such diverse examples as last week's protest against tuition fees and Aung San Suu Kyi's campaign against the military regime in Burma. I am surprised then that I don't remember his condemning Tony Blair's violence in attacking Iraq or Israel's violent attacks on Gaza. Surely Mr Lawson feels peaceful protest would have been the better response?
He then lists advocates of non-violence, including Nelson Mandela. In fact Mandela remained in prison in the 1980s because he refused to renounce violence and discusses this in his autobiography. His followers in the ANC certainly had trouble renouncing violence, as the incidents of "necklacing" testify.
Bernard North, Sutton, Surrey
There's more in the case of Mandela. Because of his refusal to renounce armed struggle, Amnesty International refused to adopt him as a prisoner of conscience.

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