"Conservatives," Mandela, and the Founders: Do Conservatives Really Believe in Liberty?

By:  Jack Kerwick, Ph.D.
12/09/2013
       
"Conservatives," Mandela, and the Founders: Do Conservatives Really Believe in Liberty?

In the wake of Nelson Mandela's death, there are glaring inconsistencies in the statements by many self-declared "conservatives" who now praise Nelson Mandela as a "freedom fighter."

For instance, National Review Online published accolades from several self-avowed "conservatives."

John Boehner, for example, alluded to Mandela’s “long walk to freedom” while praising him as “a champion of peace and racial harmony.” Marco Rubio went even further. Lamenting that “the world has lost one of history’s most important figures,” Rubio reassured us that just as “men and women striving for justice and fairness around the world have drawn inspiration from Nelson Mandela,” so his “example will live on for generations to come.”

Tim Scott lauded Mandela for being a “transformational figure, a man who truly changed the world.” Mandela, he continued, “walked a long road to freedom and embraced the fundamental human belief in equality.” Scott insisted that “all freedom-loving people mourn his passing.”

Tea Party idol Ted Cruz said of Mandela that he “will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe,” for he was a man who “stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself. Because of his epic fight against injustice,” Cruz concluded, “an entire nation is now free.”

These judgments on the part of conservatives of a man who was an avowed “democratic socialist” and communist sympathizer, a man who was on America’s list of terrorists until as recently as 2008, reflect, at best, the height of moral confusion. At worst, they reveal gross intellectual dishonesty.

To cut to the chase, American “conservatives” claim to prize the Constitution and the “limited government” that it enshrines. But the vision of liberty for which the Constitution’s Framers seceded from England, a vision for which they pledged all, is antithetical to that of Mandela. 

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