Newt Gingrich is out with a pretty strong defense of Nelson Mandela against conservative criticism. Here’s an excerpt:
“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.
“Finally, if you had been imprisoned for 27 years, 18 of them in a cell eight foot by seven foot, how do you think you would have emerged? Would you have been angry? Would you have been bitter?
This strikes me as a thoughtful analysis. And as the Atlantic notes, this is not a new position for Gingrich. (Is it surprising the leader of the Republican revolution would be sympathetic to real revolutionary?)
Read the whole thing here – and watch the video below: