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Sun Dec 29, 2013, 11:45 AM

Mandela and Cuba: Another Memory Hole

By Alex Doherty

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Since his death, western media commentary on the late Nelson Mandela has largely consisted of sanitized depictions of Mandela as a saintly, pacifistic, latter day Gandhi. A bloodless “kumbaya figure” (in Seamus Milne's memorable words) whose political vision for South Africa extended little further than the extension of the South African franchise. In the days following his death Mandela was eulogised by the most unlikely figures – from those who directly aided the apartheid government, recent heads of state whose actions in the Middle East were harshly condemned by Mandela, to musicians who flouted the cultural boycott of South Africa and politicians recently engaged in efforts to disenfranchise black Americans. Mandela's famous talent (overplayed and uprooted from its strategic context) for forgiveness has been so effectively by media commentators that the commemoration of his death has become a sort of ethical bath for the rich and powerful in which past sins and inconvenient facts are washed away.

Left critique of the mainstream media's typically atrocious performance has largely centred on the hypocrisy of the media's relaying of unquestioned protestations of admiration for Mandela from those political leaders (past and present) of states that played key roles in propping up the apartheid government in Pretoria and ensuring the survival of a regime, anachronistic as it was cruel, until the last decade of the twentieth century (though as recently detailed on New Left Project the scale of western collusion with the apartheid regime has been underplayed even by these critics). One issue that has not been widely noted is the excising from history of Cuba's role in the defeat of apartheid and the external depredations of the apartheid regime as it sought to maintain the internal system of white supremacist rule by destroying nationalist anti-imperialist forces on its borders. The contrasting roles of the United States and Cuba regarding South Africa were part of a broader pattern in which the United States supported counterrevolutionary forces throughout Africa. As part of that counterrevolutionary struggle South Africa was a valued ally of the United States – particularly regarding the newly independent Angola.

The media's careful avoidance of the contrasting Cold War roles of the United States and Cuba regarding South Africa is not of mere academic consequence. As George Orwell understood, control of historical narratives gives elites a powerful grip over public perceptions of present realities and grants those elites greater latitude in their future action. Continued imperialist intervention, military or otherwise, in the so-called developing world by the United States and her allies depends heavily upon the public's belief in the 'basic benevolence' of the western powers. The belief that the United States plays an essentially benign role in world affairs depends in turn upon a highly distorted picture of the historical role of the United States.

One important aspect of this is a childishly manichean depiction of the Cold War as a pure struggle between good and evil (a portrayal that is greatly aided of course by the extremely repressive character of the Soviet bloc). Recognition of the role of Cuba in aiding the ANC whilst the western powers backed apartheid is, of course, hardly serviceable to maintenance of this conventional Cold War narrative. The media's impressive avoidance of the context of the Castro-Obama handshake and of the significance of Castro's speech at the commemoration service is then merely one of countless ways in which history is shaped by the media to serve the powerful and ensure that western control over the developed and developing world continues undisturbed.

Full article: http://www.zcommunications.org/mandela-and-cuba-another-memory-hole-by-alex-doherty.html

Getting into zcommunications has been iffy recently, so here is another source, for anyone interested: http://www.opendemocracy.net/alex-doherty/mandela-and-cuba-another-memory-hole

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Reply Mandela and Cuba: Another Memory Hole (Original post)
polly7 Dec 2013 OP
Judi Lynn Dec 2013 #1
polly7 Dec 2013 #2

Response to polly7 (Original post)

Sun Dec 29, 2013, 07:48 PM

1. This is an exeptional article. Hope so many eyes will see it, and learn from it.

The world needs a chance to see beyond the reach of the corporate propaganda we get shoved down our throat daily.

Also from the article:

Given the media's usual depiction of the Cold War as a goodies vs. baddies morality play in which unpalatable facts about western support for quasi-fascist regimes, massacre and genocide,are largely excluded from the conventional narrative it is hardly surprising that Cuba's role in aiding the overthrow of apartheid (and the west's shameful support for the regime) has also largely vanished down the memory hole.

Thank you for the posting the facts.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 29, 2013, 07:48 PM

2. Thank you Judi-Lynn.

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