Sunday, August 22, 2010

Latest Lower Manhattan mosque #analogyfail

Tom Friedman, this time actually leaving the airport (but not yet in the taxi) for his column material --

I just saw the movie “Invictus” — the story of how Nelson Mandela, in his first term as president of South Africa, enlists the country’s famed rugby team, the Springboks, on a mission to win the 1995 Rugby World Cup and, through that, to start the healing of that apartheid-torn land ... When the post-apartheid, black-led South African sports committee moved to change the team’s name and colors, President Mandela stopped them. He explained that part of making whites feel at home in a black-led South Africa was not uprooting all their cherished symbols ... Mandela adds, “We have to surprise them with restraint and generosity.” I love that line: “We have to surprise them.” I was watching the movie on an airplane and scribbled that line down on my napkin.

So far, so uplifting. But then on the question of the mosque --

This is also why the issue of the mosque and community center near the site of 9/11 is a sideshow.

So a column that begins with the transcendent importance of the issue of the name of South Africa's rugby team then swats away the symbolism of the row over the mosque? Now while one lesson is that any analogizing of other episodes to the mosque row is bound to fail, isn't Mandela's message that it's up to the people in power to be conciliatory, regardless of hard feelings from the past?

Photo: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe from last night's Tri-Nations in Johannesburg.

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