Newt Gingrich blasts fellow right-wingers for dissing Nelson Mandela

Newt Gingrich

For all of his faults, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a curious knack for making sense every once in a while — sometimes even courageously.

Such is the case with the passing of Nelson Mandela, as Ta-Nahisi Coates explains HERE:

I think this is a fairly noteworthy statement from Newt Gingrich on Mandela’s passing that should get some airing. Gingrich is addressing the rather disgraceful response to Mandela’s passing that we’ve seen in some quarters:

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.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that “all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

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.

I think it’s important to note that Gingrich’s position here is not particularly new. This is not an attempt to rewrite history, or claim someone in death whom Gingrich opposed in life. Newt Gingrich was among a cadre of conservatives who opposed the mainstream conservative stance on apartheid and ultimately helped override Reagan’s unconscionable veto of sanctions. At the time, Gingrich was allied with a group of young conservatives including Vin Weber looking to challenge Republican orthodoxy on South Africa. “South Africa has been able to depend on conservatives to treat them with benign neglect,” said Weber. “We served notice that, with the emerging generation of conservative leadership, that is not going to be the case.”


1 Comment

  1. Here’s more of Newt. Blasting those who think that Ronald Reagan turned a blind eye to Apartheid.


    After the surprisingly harsh response from some conservatives to my statement honoring President Nelson Mandela, I replied last week with a question to his critics: What would you have done, in his place, faced with a crushing apartheid regime determined to eliminate all rights for your race?

    Mandela, I pointed out, was fighting for the same freedoms we in America defend most forcefully. Those who don’t want to honor him seem to judge by a double standard.

    These critics on the right, however, are a relatively minor group. We heard no major conservative leaders or publications repeating their misguided claims.

    Compare that with the crass manner in which the mainstream left has seized on Mandela’s death to smear Ronald Reagan as having somehow “embraced” apartheid.

    Many of the Mandela remembrances have noted Reagan’s veto of economic sanctions against South Africa as well as the State Department’s addition of the African National Congress to the terrorist list — saying this proves Reagan supported apartheid.

    As someone who at the time was immersed in the debate over South Africa as a member of Congress, I can attest that this is a slanderous mischaracterization of the Reagan policy.

    Reagan’s chief concern in South Africa was to prevent the country from falling to communism, a priority in line with his chief foreign policy goal worldwide. But Reagan was also part of a new generation of conservatives who were committed to confronting apartheid after decades of what was frankly a disappointing lack of courage on the American right.

    Gathering for Mandela’s memorial A few dozen Republicans in Congress, I among them, were some of the first conservatives to approach the problem seriously. The climax of our effort in the House was passing economic sanctions against South Africa. As many liberal commentators have noted in the past few days, Reagan vetoed that bill, only to have Congress override his veto.

    But Reagan’s critics are wrong to say his opposition to economic sanctions made him pro-apartheid. He disagreed with our group of activist Republicans in Congress over tactics, not over the aim of ending the institution. The President was absolutely committed to that goal, even if some of our other conservative colleagues were not.

    Reagan “detested” apartheid, as he wrote in his diary and said publicly, but thought sanctions would be counterproductive to ending it. In particular, he believed punishing South Africa economically would only have “hurt the very blacks we’re trying to help.” This was a position Reagan shared with Gatsha Buthelezi, the head of the Zulus, among other black South Africans.

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