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Winnie and MLK: Their Fight was Right — and It’s Not Over


Winnie and MLK: Their Fight was Right — and It’s Not Over

Tony Burman

Fifty years ago this week, the civil rights struggle of Martin Luther King Jr. ended tragically with his assassination on a motel balcony in Memphis, Tenn. As this was happening in 1968, the struggles of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in apartheid South Africa were only beginning.

The dramatic stories of their lives were being remembered this week in the world’s media, but often in selective, self-serving ways. Largely lost in this haze of popular history was what linked them together.


I can understand South Africans’ respect Winnie; battling apartheid was the only course of action. But Winnie was far different than MLK Jr. His movement was based on the power and moral authority of non-violence. Burman mentioned that Winnie had flaws which glosses over the fact that she ordered ‘necklacing’ of political opponents. "Necklacing’ was the practice of putting burning tires around the neck/torso of a person to cause an excruciating death. When Mandela got out of prison he quietly divorced her, in part for these horrifying tactics she used on other black Africans.


Worth the watch:


What is the legacy?

In South Africa there is a movement that is reviving the Apartheid-era anti-Apartheid song ‘Kill the Boer’. Within the past several weeks the African National Congress adopted a campaign plank to seize white-owned farms without compensation. Presumably also expel the white farmers from those farms. …

Continuing, Naomi Klein - a hero on this forum - has written that she admires a T-shirt she saw in South Africa, text = “Stop Asking / Start Taking”.

How far do these sentiments go? No one knows. But maybe to the extent of genocide of South Africa’s white population, either the killing, expulsion or third-class citizenship subjugation of them. Not anything Nelson Mandela in his last years wanted.
- Many white farmers are already leaving and going to places like Australia.

And America? I’ve discussed King vs. today’s America elsewhere. Question for the others on this forum: Should such threads from South Africa be woven into America’s fabric? Is it true that there won’t be racial justice in America until American blacks take, and American whites accept the taking from them? And at what point is justice satisfied, or does the taking go on indefinitely, without end?


The black South African community was subject to unspeakable oppression but that should not be used to justify the policies you speak of. Thievery in any form is unacceptable. Racial justice is going to come from uplifting the downtrodden not making everyone else downtrodden. While redistribution of wealth will happen and should, race based redistribution is not necessary nor does it help, for example Zimbabwe in the 1980s. No matter how unjustly a persons ancestors gained their wealth, that is no reason to unjustly take it back. There are better ways to redistribute wealth such as one that is based on current income or current wealth. We should and must hamper generational wealth through progressive taxation of peoples estates, taking their land while they live is not just.


Indeed, the cognitive dissonance in this article knows no limits. Yes, MLK was controversial throughout much of his activism (most activism is highly divisive; otherwise it wouldn’t be labeled as such), but he never advocated violence. Nelson Mandela, though violent in his early years, sought redemption, and the nation largely held together during his leadership–highly unequal but stable enough to provide the economic infrastructure that allows upward mobility. Winnie Mandela was violent throughout her entire career, and many of her victims were her own race. Vigilantism through and through.

If she’s the “conscience of her nation”, then we have even less hope that South Africa won’t turn into Zimbabwe Part II. The complete denial of due process (Winnie’s preferred strategy) will result in the unraveling of the tenets of civilization…but I guess if that’s what the majority want, they can bear its fruits, which will inevitably mean a flight of capital and a 90%+ drop in GDP. Nobody with any sense–white, black or burgundy–is investing a penny in Zimbabwe these days.