One has to hurry up writing about Nelson Mandela while he’s still alive. When he dies, and he’s after all 94 and in poor health, any comment this side of hagiography will be considered blasphemous and possibly illegal.
Nick Griffin, head of the crypto-fascist BNP party (the ‘crypto’ part is barely discernible) no doubt felt that way, which is why he decided to get his licks in early.
Now, in the good if recent tradition I must declare a personal interest. Namely that I despise the BNP in general and Griffin in particular.
These chaps give you two heresies for the price of one: they’re heretics both to conservatism and socialism (more to the first than to the second). In that they resemble the Nazis who also fused racial hatred with devotion to essentially socialist economics and what is mistakenly described as rightwing or ‘extreme conservative’ values.
There’s nothing conservative about the Nazis or the BNP, for conservatism is animated by love – for those things it wishes to conserve. Attendant to that may be loathing of everything that threatens such things, but love is primary and loathing not just secondary but tertiary.
The BNP types, on the other hand, are clearly driven by hatred – of Jews, blacks and most of the same groups that were also singled out by the Nazis. For them love of England, which they profess, is strictly tertiary, if it exists at all. If they did truly love England, they’d learn to develop ideas consonant with the traditional English polity, rather than with the febrile rants of continental extremism.
Having said that, it doesn’t automatically follow that everything they say is wrong. In fact, all heretics usually say some things with which exponents of the original creed would agree. Arius, for example, was right to say that Jesus was a great man. Mohammed was right to say the same and also that God was one, omnipotent and kind. Calvin was right to say that the Catholic Church needed to be reformed.
Any sensible person would have agreed with them. What made them deadly enemies to the original faith was shifting the accents, stressing some aspects at the expense of others and distorting the vital balance. Thus Arius denied that Christ was also God, so did Mohammed, and rather than reforming the Church Calvin did a good job trying to destroy it and promote atheism, if by delayed action.
In that spirit, if I found myself by accident having a pint next to a BNP chap, and if he opined that excessive immigration of cultural aliens isn’t good for Britain, I’d agree. Only when I realised that for him this more or less circumscribed his political philosophy, whereas for me it’s only a small fragment, would I move to the other end of the bar.
Nick Griffin is being vilified in the press not for what he should be vilified for (being Nick Griffin) but for what he said about Mandela. No attention whatsoever is paid to what he actually said, no attempt made to argue or deny.
Saying that Mandela is ‘a towering figure in world history and an inspiration to millions’, as some Labour councillor did, and Griffin ‘isn’t fit to tie his shoelaces’ isn’t an argument. It’s an exercise in hagiography and ad hominem invective.
Mandela is a hard-left activist and a communist sympathiser, which is why the ‘millions’ he’s an ‘inspiration’ to are either those of similar political convictions or, in most instances, simpletons who’ve been brainwashed to worship Mandela as a secular saint.
So what is it that Griffin said about Mandela that’s actually wrong? He called him a ‘murdering old terrorist.’ Which one of these three words is untrue? Mandela was indeed a terrorist, he did murder and, this side of some Biblical figures, 94 is an advanced age.
Of course the old cliché says that one side’s terrorist is the other side’s freedom fighter, and clichés grow old precisely because they’re generally true. A lot depends on which side one calls one’s own, and in the case of South Africa the choice isn’t easy.
Apartheid was doubtless nasty, and few conservatives ever supported it. But Mandela’s hard-left beliefs were even worse: he was, for example, committed to fighting private property.
And he did kill for his convictions. I don’t know if he personally administered necklacing, to which Griffin referred, but his people – including his then wife Winnie – did, and as their leader Mandela is responsible. (Come to think of it, Lenin didn’t personally execute millions either.) In my book anyone who does that sort of thing, for any cause, is a terrorist, not a freedom fighter.
Then Griffin said that the ANC, inspired and for years led by Mandela, turned South Africa from a “safe economic powerhouse” to a “crime-ridden basket case”. Is that not true?
South Africa used to be one of the world’s most successful economies, leading in many categories. The only category in which it’s among world leaders today is the number of murders per 1,000 population (31.8, compared to 1.2 in Britain).
One suspects that even if South Africa still remained a “safe economic powerhouse”, and Mandela hadn’t been implicated in any violence, Griffin would hate him anyway. The chap is genuinely vile – but then Mandela, who’s as much of a black supremacist as Griffin is a white one, is no saint either.
Personally, I’d hate to live in a country run by either Griffin or Mandela. So by all means, do let’s demonise Griffin – he’s a nasty bit of work. But that doesn’t make Mandela an angel. The two of them really deserve each other.