The Tea Party has officially jumped the shark.
With the passing of South African president Nelson Mandela Thursday came plenty of commentary from conservatives that completely altered his legacy, while at the same time trying to pretend that they have been supporters of Mandela all along.
As Joan Walsh wrote in Salon, this “right washing” of Mandela’s legacy in order to paint the Republican party as allies in his fight against apartheid is unacceptable. But nothing is more symbolic of how far removed from reality the GOP is than a quick glance at Senator Ted Cruz’s Facebook post honoring Mandela’s legacy.
Senator Cruz took to his Facebook page to say of Mandela’s passing:
“Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe. He stood firm for decades on the principle that until all South Africans enjoyed equal liberties he would not leave prison himself, declaring in his autobiography, ‘Freedom is indivisible; the chains on any one of my people were the chains on all of them, the chains on all of my people were the chains on me.’ Because of his epic fight against injustice, an entire nation is now free. We mourn his loss and offer our condolences to his family and the people of South Africa.”
While Senator Cruz appears to be taking the high road for once in his political life, his Facebook commenters would not let the Tea Party favorite get away with stepping out of their pure ideological line. Praising Mandela was a step too far for Cruz fans and the ugliness, historical inaccuracies, and racism in the comments on the post should serve as an illustration that the tea party as a serious political entity has jumped the shark.
“Let’s not forget that Mandela called Castro’s Communist revolution ‘a source of inspiration to all freedom-loving people,’” said Mike Bates. Another commenter, Derek Crawford wrote, “stunned to see you support this scumbag, Mr. Cruz…Mandela was a murderer, and a terrorist..not to mention a communist.”
And Mandela being a communist isn’t the only point of contention Cruz’s supporters have with the praising of Mandela’s legacy.
“Go home ted your drunk. He was a communist terrorist who targeted people for no other reason than being white [sic],” another commenter Shane Spade wrote.
Mandela was a racist, according to these Tea Partiers because he had the nerve to fight for the end of apartheid. The nerve!
And the purity test that requires Tea Partiers to reject any praise for Mandela isn’t limited to communism or the implication that he is a racist because he fought against white supremacy. Another commenter found a way to connect Mandela’s political crimes to his support for women’s reproductive freedom.
“He was also a huge supporter of abortion! Don’t put him too high up! Careful Mr Cruz,” Paula Mcglothin wrote.
Another anti-choice conservative, Debbie Metts, wrote, “I see that the convicted terrorist and abortion-lover Mandela has finally met the Maker whom he never acknowledged as far as I know,” complete with a link to her friends ranting wing nutty blog post about the alleged “crimes” of Mandela.
Another commenter Matt Helm, insisted that South Africa was better off before Mandela was president (seriously). “Yeah…not with you on this one, Ted. Might want to reign in the warm and fuzzy interns posting on your page on your behalf, Mandela was not a hero and South Africa is NOT better off because of his work,” he wrote.
Cruz’s supporters seem the most disappointed in the senator’s need to appear politically correct.
A very disappointed supporter Carolyn Dodd wrote, “Tell the truth Ted!!! Who are you??!! Obama?? Don’t rewrite history to try to get people to like you!!! Educate them!! Mandela was a murderer, terrorist, and a Communist!!!! Can we even trust you to be honest now ??!!”
And still there were other supporters who even went as far as to say they were happy that Mandela is finally dead and that this is really a time for celebration, not mourning, “Mandela wasn’t worth the loss of a single tear. This is a time for celebration. He’s just lucky he never got justice handed to him for the cruelty he and his government inflicted on people,” Benjamin Broda wrote. Another commenter Joe Dowda wrote, “Come on Ted. Mandela was a thug, mass murder, and a terrorist, and you stand there and shout accolades, gimme a break!”
There were a few sprinklings of sanity where folks jumped in to say that all of the racism and hatred directed at Mandela in the thread is despicable, but the vast majority of comments and the most popular comments in the thread insist that Senator Ted Cruz is selling out to the politically correct establishment and that Nelson Mandela is not a revolutionary that literally changed the course of history, instead he’s a terrorist murderer who hates white people.
And Mandela support may cost Senator Cruz votes: “Well I’m sorry I voted for you Cruz. Really disappointed in [c]onservatives tonight for they’re [sic] ignorance about him. I didn’t realize we conservatives glorified racist, Marxist, terrorists but I guess all you politicians are the same,” wrote Taylor Hartmann, one very disappointed Cruz voter.
The Mandela bashing is a moment that should go down in history as the moment the Tea Party may have gone a bridge too far.
If even Ted Cruz isn’t pure enough for these folks, you have to wonder who is.
Follow Zerlina Maxwell on Twitter at @ZerlinaMaxwell.