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Letters to the Editor
What you need to know for 01/20/2017

Mandela may have been a great man, but he wasn’t a saint

Mandela may have been a great man, but he wasn’t a saint

*Mandela may have been a great man, but he wasn’t a saint *Obamacare fought by GOP for good reason *

Mandela may have been a great man, but he wasn’t a saint

Regarding the hagiographic commentary on Nelson Mandela Dec. 14 [from the Albuquerque Journal], we should remember that the miracle of Mandela is that he was a human being, not a saint.

South Africans are first to point this out because they are proud that one of their own had the dedication to a single cause, persistence in the face of a brutal regime, and a phenomenal ability to forgive that regime after his release from prison. They do not hold him up as an icon of nonviolence like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In his book, “Conservations with Myself,” Mandela says that although he initially espoused Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy, his experience with the unrelenting cruelty and violence of the nationalist government led him to realize that nonviolent methods alone would be insufficient to dislodge the apartheid government. His involvement with the carefully considered violent actions of the “Spear of the Nation” militant wing of the African National Congress led to his lifetime prison sentence.

Throughout his activist period and his imprisonment, Mandela and his then-wife, Winnie, realized that a normal family life must necessarily be sacrificed to the cause. Mandela’s matter-of-fact letters to his young children show that his priorities lay with his greater family, the black people of South Africa, the oppression of whom could not be relieved by an ordinary man content to live an ordinary life.

Mandela’s extraordinary ability to mobilize and inspire his followers — and indeed the world — while he was behind bars was ultimately responsible for the downfall of the hated apartheid system. His negotiations with the white regime that put in place a new government respecting the positions of blacks, whites and coloreds constitute one of the signal achievements of the 20th century, as the Nobel committee recognized in awarding him its 1993 Peace Prize, along with F.W. de Klerk.

His abilities to forgive and to forge a new South Africa are his legacy, the legacy of a man — not a saint — who, one must hope, will not be the last of his kind.

Karen J. Watkins

Schenectady

Obamacare fought by GOP for good reason

Don Steiner’s Dec. 12 letter discussed the “noble” efforts of the Obama administration relative to the handling of their premier piece of domestic legislation, the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” as it is often called.

It is one the biggest legislative efforts of the last 50-plus years. It also passed the U.S. House of Representatives without a single vote from the GOP. That is quite an accomplishment. The Democrats passed major, life-defining legislation without a single vote from the opposition, who represent a large tract of the national populace. So I guess this is what the administration calls “bipartisanship.”

Mr. Steiner admits the program’s rollout has been disastrous. Did it ever occur to him that the reason is the fact it is an incredibly poor, if not dangerous, piece of legislation? Computer glitches are not just the issue; the problems are myriad and seem to grow every day. Now that he, and many others in the electorate, have agreed there are major issues, can he ask himself this: Is it either a sign of mass incompetence by the administration, or an act of outright betrayal on their behalf?

Perhaps they knew what could happen to thousands of people who were satisfied with the insurance they had. What the truth is I certainly don’t know, but in either case it is a debacle of the highest order.

On whom does Mr. Steiner place the vitriol? The GOP. The party that said this piece of legislation should not be put into place, and did so right to the very end.

Do you think that maybe the “obstructionists,” as he labeled them, may have been on to something?

Daniel Casey

Charlton

Revolution needed for us to reclaim government

Re Ric Wells’ Dec. 16 letter, [“Voters must band together to replace government”]: I would ask you to run it daily for the next two weeks. It really needs wide exposition to open the eyes of the American electorate.

This is the second revolution that must happen if we are to stay the end of America as we know it. Checks and balances must be restored. Consent of the governed must dominate. Government of the people, by the people and for the people must be restored.

James Madison said a constitutional government can only prevail in a moral society. Since the late ’50s, we have been traveling a dark road.

The question is, can America reclaim the pioneer spirit?

Raymond Franklin

Schenectady

NSA is hardly the only one spying on us

Everyone is upset about the NSA spying on us.

Have you used your computer lately? Open a website and your profile goes out to businesses — where you shop, vacation, etc.

Then open your email and see the companies that know everything about you.

Peter Grippo

Rotterdam

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