Tuesday, July 1, 2008

U.S. Officials Recognize the Fight Against South African Apartheid Was Just - 70 Years Later

Bring up the word "apartheid" and people will cringe. Images of horrible racial oppression, brutal African colonization, and violent struggles of black South Africans come to mind. You will be hard-pressed to find a semi-educated person advocating for apartheid. Yet before today if you were a member of the African National Congress you were on a terrorist watch list in America. You were in the same group of people as Osama bin Laden and about 800,000 other folks deemed undesirable by the United States government.

The news today is reporting that Nelson Mandela and his fellow members of the African National Congress (at least those who are still alive) were finally removed from the terrorist watch list. This country waited until the figurehead of a righteous movement against brutal racial oppression at the hands of unjust African colonizers was 90 years old to remove him from this list. Mr. Mandel can now enter and leave America without the mounds of paperwork and clearance that he needed before.

Of course the symbolism of the act is more important than anything else. Mandela would have been able to come to this country whenever he wanted to. No U.S. official would deny him a visa to enter the country; his legacy is extraordinary. But think about this: if Nelson Mandela can be labeled a terrorist by this government for decades, what does that say about the individual who may fight a just cause (like battling racial oppression) but does not reach the stature of a figure like Mandela? And don't think that Congress and the Bush Administration did this out of the kindness of their hearts. If they truly cared about it, it would have taken less than 2 months to get done (the fact that Mandela was even on the list was published on April 30, 2008 in USA Today). If the story had not come to light, Mandela would most likely have died a lowly terrorist in the eyes of Washington officials. What does that say for the average person? Peace.

Photos - Nelson Mandela, no longer a terrorist (Wikipedia), 12 year old Hector Pieterson, one of the first fatalities of the Soweto uprising, being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo on June 16, 1976 (Fu Jen University)

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