This just in from the "you can't make it up" department: Sen. Ted Cruz has upset his base by (wait for it, wait for it) eulogizing Nelson Mandela.
Let's put this in context. Cruz (or possibly just his press people) think a day without some kind of statement or other is a day wasted. At this point (post-shutdown), most members of the press ignore them. But his Tea Party supporters still pay great attention.
So yesterday, after the announcement of the former South African president's death, with clockwork inevitability Cruz's office issued a letter of condolence to Mandela's family. So far, so polite and reasonable enough. Then he did what he always does: Attempted to rewrite a dead liberal icon as a secret conservative. He did much the same with President John F. Kennedy recently, and now he called Mandela "an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe" (conservative dog whistle speak for "one of us.") He added, "Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free."
Cue moral outrage from the GOP's hard right.
You can catch the full Facebook exchange here, but the edited highlights are enough. It started with one supporter, who earlier this year had praised Cruz's opposition to a path to citizenship for immigrants without current documentation in the US as "Cruz Control- love it!" But praising Mandela was one step too far. "Sen Cruz," she wrote on his wall, "you need to study your history. He was a glorified terrorist!"
In a sane land and reasoned times, it could be expected that she would be shouted down by her fellow comment writers. Instead, she quickly became their standard bearer, as a cavalry charge of racially charged Tea Party rhetoric mounted an attack on good taste and common decency.
Ted – I disagree – Nelson Mandella destroyed a prosperous nation. Certainly, you may honor him for ridding the nation of apartheid, though you cannot honor the killings and intimidations he used to accomplish this. But he destroyed the economy and he impoverished those he "set free."
Mr. Cruz, not exactly. Nelson Mandela was a communist who murdered many people. He caused that capital of South Africa become a place where rate of rape was in first ten at whole world. I won't cry, because in history were many people who were real advocates of freedom.
Nelson Mandela was a socialist terrorizer of white Africans, hated Capitalism and didn't think commoners had a right to private property, and thought government should control and distribute wealth
He was a convicted terrorist and a leader in the Communist Party good grief Ted!!!!!I disagree Mr. Senator. Do not fall victim to the media's lies. The man was a Communist, a terrorist and a racist.
He was a murderous communist serving in prison for thousands of white murders. Don't whitewash the true history of this murdering villain. Instead of buying into the media glorification, read the violent history of South Africa
Marxist murdering scum I'm done wasting my time thinking about this
And so on and so forth. The tone varied from the misguided but polite ("Disappointing, Mr. Cruz.") to the stunningly awful, including one writer who cited the 1963 indictment against Mandela that sent him to prison for almost four decades. Because, of course, nothing says reliable evidence like charges filed against a black man by prosecutor Percy Yuter in the Traansvaal in the early 1960s.
So, let's boil the comments down and get this straight. Before Mandela was released, South Africa was a lovely, economically buoyant state, and now it's just despair and rape and it was all his fault. Also, he was obviously the racist. Because that was how apartheid worked. It was just the white Afrikaans defending themselves from the hordes of rapists and socialists that Mandela was getting ready to unleash.
Poor Ted. Maybe he should just head back to the safer turf of praising old school race baiters like Jesse Helms.
Politely, no one raised the conservative intellectual bind that Cruz had got into. As always, it comes back to the modern Republican's favorite "defender of liberty." No, not Lincoln: Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately for GOP historians, the Gipper was no fan of the anti-apartheid movement. In fact, in 1986 he vetoed a comprehensive sanctions bill passed by Congress to force the white South African regime to reform. The Senate was so appalled that a bipartisan supermajority overruled his veto, leaving Reagan with only a conservative rump at his back.
At the time, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachussetts, told his GOP colleagues, "The Republican Party is at a crossroads. It must decide whether it wants to be the party of Lincoln or the party of apartheid."
From the look of Cruz's Facebook page, it seems that decision has been made.
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