Source: The Nation
The bulk of his career actually undermined the peace he claimed to be seeking.
hen major figures die, the remembrances begin to pour in. The narratives created about those who have gone are supposed to tell us a lot about them. But what we choose to remember and how we choose to remember tell us great deal about us as well.
In the case of Nelson Mandela, the mainstream American remembrance narrative was that of Mandela the nonviolent dealmaker—a portrait that brushed aside Mandela the freedom fighter who reserved the right to use violence against oppressors supported by the United States and Britain. In the case of Muhammad Ali, the remembrance narrative leaned toward that of the aging Olympic flag-bearer, silenced by Parkinson’s, who was a symbol of tolerance—not the fiery, vocal champion of oppressed African Americans who denounced racism and American imperialism and sacrificed the peak of his career by refusing to be drafted to fight in Vietnam. We remember, in these figures, that which is easy for us, and we forget that which makes us uncomfortable.