As heads of state from around the world descend on South Africa to memorialize Nelson Mandela and the struggle against apartheid, it’s worth asking how free we are today to challenge state power, as Madiba did.
In an excellent article in the Guardian, Jeff Sparrow points out that many of the same leaders who are waxing eloquent in South Africa about Mandela’s struggle for social justice are currently making it virtually impossible to engage in any form of public protest in their countries.
Sparrow’s article offers up some important historical memories about the virtually complete condemnation of Mandela by the political establishment in the UK and US. But it also itemizes the many special laws invented since 9/11 to justify the suppression of public protest.
This trend towards militarization of police forces, evacuation of political protest from public spaces, and silencing of dissent is something that ought to be fought on every level. Such struggles truly honor the memory of Madiba.