After the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela, Rush Limbaugh co-opted Mandela's legacy as more in line with American conservatism than liberalism. But Limbaugh's praise for Mandela stands in stark contrast to his repeated attacks on him in the past, even characterizing his world view as racial.
On the December 6 edition of his radio show, host Limbaugh argued that Mandela “had more in common with Clarence Thomas than he does with Barack Obama,” claiming that he was more like American conservatives because he “insisted on compliance with his country's constitution,” whereas liberals, Limbaugh asserted, only care about “skin color and oppression” and view the U.S. constitution as an obstacle:
But Limbaugh's praise of Mandela ignores his past attacks against the South African leader. In 2007 Limbaugh criticized the U.S. foreign policy objectives of Democrats working on Sudan divestment policy, claiming they only wanted to get rid of the “white government” in countries such as South Africa and Sudan and “stand behind Nelson Mandela, who was bankrolled by communists,” in a ploy to win the votes of African Americans.
In 2002 Rush Limbaugh compared Mandela to terrorists claiming:
When Nelson Mandela or one of these terrorists sees America, they ask, “How did they do this in less than 230 years? We've been around here for centuries, and we still can barely muster working toilets.” It is this that the terrorists see, folks ? and it makes them envious.
In that same year, Limbaugh turned to race baiting, accusing Mandela of harboring a “black and white” world view and saying that he viewed Americans as “a bunch of white racists who hate people of color”:
He went on to say that when UN Secretary-Generals were “white” (and gave the example of Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Gali), we never had the question of any country ignoring the United Nations, but now that we have the black Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, “certain countries that believe in white supremacy are ignoring the United Nations.” I wonder what country he could be thinking about?
To Mandela, Arabs are people of color ? except, apparently, for Boutros. The Israelis, who are Semitic peoples, are white, but the portion of the Muslim population that is also Semitic, are black. But Americans are all evil, white supremacist Caucasians. We're ethnically cleansing the Middle East.
That's what Mandela said, without even having the guts to name the country he's talking about. This is another thing he has in common with liberal Democrats here, who don't have the courage to take a position on where they stand on the war. Again, I love the old Mandela. I loved it when he came here in his own version of the Pope Mobile.
NM drove around the outfield wall at Yankee Stadium on the watch of Mayor for Life, General Dinkins. He loved us then when we were ending apartheid and lavishing cash on him, but now we are a bunch of white racists who hate people of color. Of course, if we left the people of Iraq under the command of a brutal dictator, it would be because we didn't care how much non-white people suffered. We can't win, Nelson!