It’s always astonishing how funerals and memorial services can do two things to people. They make platform for public show and then they provide the opportunity for public speaking that knows no bounds in the hope that they will be remembered for eternity. Something that state funerals and public mourning have more than that is that the leaders, past and present, tend to flock to the ceremony in order to be viewed and counted amongst the solemn mourners and catch just a bit of the limelight.
Nelson Mandela died on December 5th and as the memorial service unravels today with leaders from around the world arriving in great exalted ceremony befitting in their belief to the high-status and rank, on the taxpayers’ money certain questions are raised as to the antagonistic difference between one man that fought for freedom and the others that have colluded to take the world’s freedom away.
Obama got a public tribune at the memorial service today in Johannesburg, South Africa. He didn’t just make a speech. He was on an international electoral roll and that in itself is unjustified and unbefitting in the situation. It ended up costing the taxpayer $5 million and seemed more like a personal tribute than a national one from the USA; a personal tribute to himself rather than to the great Mandela.
The flight came to a total cost of $180,000 per hour; fuel was included however. President Obama was accompanied by the First Lady. The Attorney General Eric Holder also went along and so did Susan Rice, the national security adviser. The speech given by Obama lasted 19 minutes.
Time and again Obama spoke of action and ideas. He talked of how actions are shaped by our ideas:
“Mandela taught us the power of action, but he also taught us the power of ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those who you agree with, but also those who you don’t agree with. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.”
It is most fitting that Obama has spoken of studying not only those that we agree with but also those who we don’t agree with. Perhaps that’s why the President took along with Susan Rice. Studying is a euphemism for surveillance and so now we understand why the President has been watching us all and condoning the NSA’s actions.
It seems so strange that the President of the USA should speak of the need to put things down into law: “Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough. No matter how right, they must be chiseled into law and institutions.”
We have seen the same things with the self-righteous laws of the USA on the state surveillance of the NSA, Mr. Obama allowing anything to become possible. But, please do not compare yourself to the great man and the great actions that tried to free a nation from Apartheid.
It was no time to talk of yourself Mr. Obama. No time at all: “But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President.” Although, yes the question begs an answer.
Perhaps you must stop asking yourself the questions and start listening to the answers: “The questions we face today -- how to promote equality and justice; how to uphold freedom and human rights; how to end conflict and sectarian war -- these things do not have easy answers.” The answers may not be easy, but they are there already, Mr. Obama.
President Obama ended his speech today on this one idea: that Mandela “makes me want to be a better man”. You have the inkling in an answer there already.
Mandela fought effortlessly for recognition. He painstakingly refused to accept the situation of the South Africans that were considered to be second-class citizens because of the color of their skin. The freedom, the human rights he lived for, that he was imprisoned for, that he became President for are all a million miles away from those that the USA has taken away from the rest of the world in the name of their personal fight for security. It’s time that that stopped, but it’s also time for the self-praise in unfitting moments to come to an end.
Originally posted: Mandela and Obama: Millions of Miles Apart
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