Once we get past the listing of parents and relatives, Nobel Prize winner, Nelson Mandela is, by far, the first on peoples' lists. I'm talking about the first on American's lists.
So it comes as somewhat of a surprise to discover that Mandela is on U.S. terrorist watch lists. USA Today reports,
"Nelson Mandela is flagged on U.S. terrorist watch lists and needs special permission to visit the USA. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls the situation "embarrassing," and some members of Congress vow to fix it.
The requirement applies to former South African leader Mandela and other members of South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC), the once-banned anti-Apartheid organization. In the 1970s and '80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country's ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.
"U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says it is time to end U.S. travel restrictions against former South African President Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC). Mandela and the ANC were blacklisted by the United States during their fight against apartheid Democratic Congressman Howard L. Berman, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced a bill to lift the travel restriction. He told VOA the U.S. was on the wrong side of history and that it's time to correct the injustice against Mandela and the ANC.
"-The notion that people knew about this restriction all these years and didn't do anything about it is very disappointing. And so we're trying to rectify it"-' "-
This is a bill that the Democratic congress should rush to pass. It should go through unanimously. That could do their dismal poll ratings some good. And if any member of the opposition party votes against such a bill, they'll be in a terribly indefensible position, making them seem like total extremist fear mongers.
BBC, one of the first media organizations to report on this situation, said, ,
"Howard Berman, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who introduced the bill said it was "shameful" that the United States still treated the ANC this way.
"-Amazingly, Nelson Mandela still needs to get a special waiver to enter the United States based on his courageous leadership of the ANC. What an indignity. This legislation will wipe it away,' he said"-
It's a no-brainer that Hillary and Barack should go on the record supporting this, and insist that McCain do the same"- except for one small problem that may complicate things a bit"" AIPAC. The forgiving of ANC members just might lead to a precedent that could lead to forgiveness of other freedom fighting organizations that are currently deemed terrorist by the regimes they are currently fighting"- like FATAH, or even Hamas.
I'm not saying there is any equivalence between ANC and these organizations that have proudly taken responsibility for suicide bombings and rocket attacks on innocent civilians. But the AIPAC lobby IS very powerful. They have been able to intimidate US politicians into backing off from passing legislation forbidding Dubya and Cheney from starting a war with Iran without first getting explicit approval from congress.
AIPAC along with the far right extremists like Christian Zionist John Hagee and others who pray for the rapture and consequently, the destruction of Israel, might get a bit squeamish when they hear what the VOA says,
"Congressman Berman said he was motivated to introduce the legislation because the ANC successfully made a change from armed struggle to peace, and that the U.S. should celebrate this transformation rather than continue a two decade-old policy that is out of reality.
"-I learned"- that based on an old designation of the ANC probably 25 years ago, membership in the ANC put you on a data base which kept you from getting a visa. The notion that Nelson Mandela is deemed ineligible for a visa to the United States and has to apply and in effect beg for a waiver to come here, there's no justification at all. Here is a much revered leader of a very important cause that we strongly support is subjected to that kind of treatment is just wrong. So we're going to change it"-' Berman said.
He said by blacklisting the ANC based solely on its designation by the apartheid regime as a terrorist organization, the United States was on the wrong side of history out of ignorance rather than out of bad intentions."-