Mandela in America
Neither Vaclav Havel nor Lech Walesa nor Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn nor any other foreign visitor in memory was received by America with as much celebration, as much adulation, as much ecstasy as Nelson Mandela, the deputy president of the African National Congress (ANC), during his triumphal eight-day tour this past June. Only the reception accorded Pope John Paul II in 1979 compares, but the Pontiff also brought out more critics and protesters than did Mandela.
New York gave Mandela a ticker-tape parade and a rally at Yankee Stadium, and the Empire State Building was lit in the colors of the ANC. In Washington, Mandela visited with the President and then shared a press conference on the White House lawn. Later, he addressed a joint session of Congress. Altogether, hundreds of thousands attended rallies for Mandela in Detroit’s Tiger Stadium, Georgia Tech’s Grant Field, the Los Angeles Coliseum, and the Oakland Coliseum. Dozens of popular entertainers donated their services, while crowds, imitating the practice at ANC rallies in South Africa, danced the toi-toi, and Mandela T-shirts sold by the truckload. In addition, Mandela received honorary degrees from 41 institutions of higher learning.
About the Author
Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is working on a book about Arab and Muslim democrats.