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Nelson Mandela: The real legacy

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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Few of the encomia about Nelson Mandela deal honestly and forthrightly, if at all, with the dubious background of the former South African president and slayer of apartheid. But had they, an even more remarkable portrait of the man would be painted. For his transformation was a true reclamation.

Mr. Mandela, 95, died on Thursday. And the tributes quickly poured in for the man who did so much to end blanket racial segregation and who helped to set the standard for free and just democratic black rule on an African continent so dominated by henchmen and thugs.

But few care to recall — and virtually no editorials mentioned — that for most of his life, Mandela was not only a Marxist who revered Lenin and Stalin but also was a terrorist. He abandoned efforts for peaceful change in favor of guerrilla tactics and sabotage. And that's what led to his trial, conviction and life prison sentence in the 1960s.

He emerged from prison 27 years later as a changed man in a changed country. Mandela became South Africa's leader in its first free presidential election four years later, seeking unity instead of exacting revenge, and served a single term before retiring.

But most media's failure to detail the full history of Mandela's Marxist past actually diminish the man and his achievements. Through his words and deeds, he renounced Marxism and terrorism, learning, albeit late in life, that such ideologies were merely recipes for another form of tyranny no more acceptable than apartheid.

That's the true legacy of Nelson Mandela — one that exposes as fraudulent the kind of failed “progressivism” to which so many of his Fourth Estate admirers continue to cling.

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