“Suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an intelligence test. Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but an academician. By every one of those tests, I’d prove myself a moron, and I’d be a moron, too. In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my hands, I would do poorly. My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters. ”—Isaac Asimov, from What is Intelligence, Anyway? (via eelhound)
His body isn’t even cold yet and the New York times has already put out a shameful article declaring Nelson Mandela to be an “icon of peaceful resistance”. News outlets around the Western world are hurrying to publish obituaries that celebrate his electoral victory while erasing the protracted and fierce guerrilla struggle that he and his party were forced to fight in order to make that victory possible. Don’t let racist, imperialist liberalism co-opt the legacy of another radical. Nelson Mandela used peaceful means when he could, and violent means when he couldn’t. For this, during his life they called him a terrorist, and after his death they’ll call him a pacifist — all to neutralize the revolutionary potential of his legacy, and the lessons to be drawn from it.
Don’t fucking let them.
Okay, also wrong.
1) Nelson Mandela WAS an icon of peaceful resistance, but not in the simplistic way the NYT article (and, I’m sure, many that will follow) believe he was. You see, when Mandela was arrested in 1962, he was, indeed, the leader of the ANC’s armed forces. That is not a fact that people should forget.
However, when he started negotiations with the apartheid regime in the late 1980s, South Africa was in the midst of what was basically an undeclared civil war. Violence was everywhere and often very unfocused; don’t think for one second that it was all between anti-apartheid fighters against people upholding the apartheid regime. The deaths/beatings/tortures/rapes were largely civilian-focused, and everyone was hurting everyone else (with white-on-white, black-on-black, black-on-Indian, Indian-on-coloured, coloured-on-black, so on and so forth). For an example, Google anything about “necklacing”.
It was b a d.
In order for the country not to collapse completely, someone needed to emerge as a leader who favored political negotiation and peaceful tactics over the violence that was ravaging the country, and Nelson Mandela, whose release had been advocated for over the past few years, found himself thrust into that position to the point that he started negotiating for the fall of apartheid from prison. He did what he needed to do because any more violence would have completely destroyed South Africa. He chose ending apartheid over saving face with the already-emerging anti-apartheid politicians, chose negotiating with the enemies that he hated over seeing more of his people die because of an ego or power trip or an extreme ideology (see: most of the leaders of both sides at this point). He chose making peace over expressing his anger, or (an even bigger issue now), his racial/ethnic affiliation. If he isn’t an “icon of peaceful resistance” for this, I don’t know who is.
2) “He and his party” Hahaha no. There were different parties and different voices and different races who fought together against the regime, not just the ANC. The ANC is one part of a MUCH LARGER MOVEMENT, one that included the people who would become the DA (the ANC’s biggest political rival), one that included not only the black Africans (mainly Zulu) that the ANC represents but also the Xhosa and the Tswana and the Sotho and the Coloureds and the Indians and The Black Sash and the Jews. IT WAS NOT JUST THE ANC.
Also, the ANC is actually largely why the country is so fucked up right now, because the party wants to keep power over actually doing anything good for its people (see: President Robert “Yes I raped that lesbian HIV-positive AIDS activist but I’m getting acquitted because I’m in power and I’m not HIV positive because I took a shower afterwards” Zuma; see: President Thabo “yeah I committed crimes against humanity but come on hear me talk more about how HIV isn’t a real thing and what all my people are dying of AIDS because I refuse to provide any knowledge or treatment LALALALA I can’t hear you LALALA” Mbeki)
3) “Don’t let racist, imperialist liberalism co-opt the legacy of another radical.” Don’t let your ignorant, imperialist liberalism co-opt the legacy of a man who is recognized as an amazing leader of a country and continent seriously lacking them. Don’t let your lack of knowledge of contemporary African politics let you think for one goddamn second that praising someone’s violence is a good thing. Don’t let your Western all-blacks-are-same ideology not recognize the true radicalism in his ideology, which is that ethnic groups should not matter and people should work together regardless.
4) “Nelson Mandela used peaceful means when he could, and violent means when he couldn’t.” Hahahaha take this, reverse it. He started violent and ended peaceful.
5) “For this, during his life they called him a terrorist,” Nope. They called him a terrorist because he fought against the apartheid regime, and the apartheid regime was allied with the West during the Cold War. He would have been a terrorist regardless of the amount of violence he actually used.
"and after his death they’ll call him a pacifist" Yep. Because he was (kind of) in the end. Although the Truth & Reconciliation Commission was totally Desmond Tutu’s brainchild, so don’t listen to anyone crediting him with that.
"All to neutralize the revolutionary potential of his legacy," hopefully by now you realize that if you mean "revolutionary" to mean "violence is okey-dokey" you are full of shit. His revolutionary act was to be a Xhosa leading a largely Zulu resistance-cum-political party; his revolutionary act was to negotiate with a racial/ethnic enemy. His revolution rested in whom he dared to talk to, not whom he dared to hurt.
"and the lessons to be drawn from it." Yeah, the wrong lessons will be drawn from it, but not for the reasons you think. People will just think his thought process was "peace at any cost" instead of "w o w having a violent revolution was a super stupid idea because everyone is dying. Let’s take a different approach that doesn’t involve my wife directing her own band of assassins and me being imprisoned for almost 30 years that sounds grand".
An Actual Fucking (Half) South African
P.S. This is still super-simplified (I could literally spend hours explaining all the ins and outs of apartheid/the anti-apartheid movement/Mandela himself), but I think it does its job at least somewhat okay.
Thank you for bringing the info-smackdown! I was pretty sure the OP was wrong, but don’t know enough to debunk off the top of my keyboard.
Nelson Mandela was labeled a terrorist by the United States government.
Nelson Mandela was a political prisoner.
Nelson Mandela was at the helm of a revolutionary organization.
It is so easy to wax poetic about his heroism after the tide of history has turned. But to stand in the tradition of Mandela is to embrace justice when and where power opposes it.
I am grateful that the anti-apartheid and divestment movement was part of my coming of age because it allowed me to cultivate through my own experience a critical gaze and to find footing in a radical tradition.
We need those spaces to flourish for our young people today, and for those who will come behind them. I feel like tonight we should rededicate ourselves to courage and truth-telling rather than mere sentimentalism.
I can’t even remember when I was asked this, but I got another ‘5 random facts’ ask from terpsicoreofkentucky that I put off the other day because I was lazy.
I am the world’s worst procrastinator. I procrastinated on typing up these 5 random facts and I’m now using typing up these 5 random facts to procrastinate on my homework. I will use homework to procrastinate on other homework to the point where I’ll be finished with an assignment due in January but not with my essay due almost two weeks ago.
My greatest fear when I was four years old was vampires and somehow, to this day, it still is.
The worst, deranged, nightmarish fantasy I would always have was when I flushed the toilet and thought a vampire would come spinning out because the water’s swirl always reminded me of the iconic way a vampire would come into their human form by spinning into it, cape swirling around them.
I was first exposed to the Harry Potter series when I was four! My mom defied the advisement of the Catholic church and read the Sorcerer’s Stone (it was the American edition) with me.
I have so much first generation guilt and I can feel it keeping me from … sacrificing my privilege for the pleasure of it. Which is good in many ways because it keeps me from hitting rock bottom when I want to self-destruct, but is a little disappointing in others because I question the sincerity of everything I do and for whom I do it.
Fainting today was frightening. I can’t shake how quickly I lost consciousness. It was like being so tired that I no longer could think. I didn’t even feel myself stop supporting my body. I just found my head between my legs and Jamie’s voice telling me I should probably eat something, then I was sitting up and suddenly I was on the ground and there were all sorts of people around me telling me what to do and telling each other what to do for me and I couldn’t comprehend that something unexpected had happened and that I was the one they were trying to help.
“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”—Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013 (via albinwonderland)
“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”—John Muir (via theohpioneer)
Excessive fear can develop after a traumatic experience, leading to anxiety disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias. During exposure therapy, an effective and common treatment for anxiety disorders, the patient confronts a fear or memory of a traumatic event in a safe environment, which leads to a gradual loss of fear. A new study in mice, published online today in Neuron, reports that exposure therapy remodels an inhibitory junction in the amygdala, a brain region important for fear in mice and humans. The findings improve our understanding of how exposure therapy suppresses fear responses and may aid in developing more effective treatments. The study, led by researchers at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts, was partially funded by a New Innovator Award from the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health.
A fear-inducing situation activates a small group of neurons in the amygdala. Exposure therapy silences these fear neurons, causing them to be less active. As a result of this reduced activity, fear responses are alleviated. The research team sought to understand how exactly exposure therapy silences fear neurons.
The researchers found that exposure therapy not only silences fear neurons but also induces remodeling of a specific type of inhibitory junction, called the perisomatic synapse. Perisomatic inhibitory synapses are connections between neurons that enable one group of neurons to silence another group of neurons. Exposure therapy increases the number of perisomatic inhibitory synapses around fear neurons in the amygdala. This increase provides an explanation for how exposure therapy silences fear neurons.
“The increase in number of perisomatic inhibitory synapses is a form of remodeling in the brain. Interestingly, this form of remodeling does not seem to erase the memory of the fear-inducing event, but suppresses it,” said senior author, Leon Reijmers, Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine and member of the neuroscience program faculty at the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences at Tufts.
Reijmers and his team discovered the increase in perisomatic inhibitory synapses by imaging neurons activated by fear in genetically manipulated mice. Connections in the human brain responsible for suppressing fear and storing fear memories are similar to those found in the mouse brain, making the mouse an appropriate model organism for studying fear circuits.
Mice were placed in a box and experienced a fear-inducing situation to create a fear response to the box. One group of mice, the control group, did not receive exposure therapy. Another group of mice, the comparison group, received exposure therapy to alleviate the fear response. For exposure therapy, the comparison group was repeatedly placed in the box without experiencing the fear-inducing situation, which led to a decreased fear response in these mice. This is also referred to as fear extinction.
The researchers found that mice subjected to exposure therapy had more perisomatic inhibitory synapses in the amygdala than mice who did not receive exposure therapy. Interestingly, this increase was found around fear neurons that became silent after exposure therapy.
“We showed that the remodeling of perisomatic inhibitory synapses is closely linked to the activity state of fear neurons. Our findings shed new light on the precise location where mechanisms of fear regulation might act. We hope that this will lead to new drug targets for improving exposure therapy,” said first author, Stéphanie Trouche, Ph.D., a former postdoctoral fellow in Reijmers’ lab at Tufts and now a medical research council investigator scientist at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
“Exposure therapy in humans does not work for every patient, and in patients that do respond to the treatment, it rarely leads to a complete and permanent suppression of fear. For this reason, there is a need for treatments that can make exposure therapy more effective,” Reijmers added.