The only thing more pathetic than the mainstream media focusing on Facebook trolls is conservatives falling for the bait. On Sunday’s edition of CNN’s State of the Union, host Candy Crowley asked Newt Gingrich to respond to comments on his Facebook page attacking him for praising Nelson Mandela. (ABC News has devoted similar attention to Ted Cruz’s Facebook trolls.) Crowley’s obvious goal: to associate “fellow conservatives” with bigotry.
The correct response to that question is to throw back that challenge–when has Crowley taken an interest in the trolls spewing left-wing hatred on liberal Facebook pages?–and simply point out those aspects of Mandela’s legacy that conservatives celebrate. Instead, Gingrich swallowed Crowley’s premise, and made the historically false claim that “there weren’t any conservative allies” and so Mandela was compelled to align with the Soviets.
That is not true. There was growing global support for the anti-apartheid movement worldwide, and leaders everywhere were feeling compelled to express their opposition to the regime. The Conservative British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan visited South Africa in February 1960, just before the Sharpeville massacre, to warn the apartheid parliament that a “wind of change” was blowing through the continent–South Africa included.
The State of Israel voted against apartheid at the United Nations. The International Olympic Committee told South Africa it would not be admitted to the Tokyo Olympics in 1964 because its teams would not be racially integrated. Conservative leaders were part of that growing movement against apartheid. Yet once Mandela and the ANC aligned with Soviet communism, many conservatives could only offer qualified support, at best.
Mandela’s decision to embrace a violent campaign of sabotage is understandable. His decision to embrace the USSR is far less so. Gingrich ignores the fact that the Communist Party was very active in South Africa, and had tried to recruit Mandela and other leaders for decades. Their influence was undoubtedly part of the reason that the ANC eventually hitched its fortunes to those of the decrepit Soviet Union and its worst third-world proxies.
The genius of the anti-apartheid campaign, as opposed to many other liberation movements, was that it eventually applied the same moral code to itself that it demanded of its oppressors (in theory, anyway). The alignment with Soviet communism was no less immoral for having been made from a position of strategic weakness. It is a dishonor, in fact, to Mandela’s legacy to pretend otherwise, especially at the behest of a discredited CNN anchor.