Yesterday, as the world mourned the death of anti-apartheid hero, former South African president, and Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela, Bill O'Reilly took to the airwaves to remind everyone that while Mandela was a nice guy, "he was a communist."
Rick Santorum, O'Reilly's guest at the time, agreed, but applauded Mandela for standing up against a "great injustice," then proceeded to compare the South African leader's quest for racial justice to the Republican Party's relentless efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and torpedo health insurance coverage for millions of Americans.
Repugnant, right? Watch:
Unsurprisingly, this right-wing distortion is incredibly inaccurate. CNN corrects the record:
Mandela's close association with Marxists goes back at least to the 1940s, when he was enrolled in law school...
But was Mandela a dyed-in-the-wool communist? Not really, believes South African historian Sampie Terreblanche.
"You must understand it all against the apartheid struggle."
Mandela found the ANC too tame and had begun to push for a violent struggle in the 1940s, when he headed its youth league, the former professor of economics at Stellenbosch University said. The communists were for the use of violence, and Terreblanche believes it led to the alliance.
After his release from prison, Mandela made some high-profile appearances with communist leaders. He visited Fidel Castro in Cuba. And to commemorate the relaunch of South Africa's communist party in 1990, he gave a speech.
But he also made a point of distancing his own party. "The ANC is not a communist Party," he said.
So once again, O'Reilly gets it wrong. But more importantly, regardless of his political affiliations, Nelson Mandela was a great man whose life is being justly honored and commemorated throughout the world. Shame on the Fox News set for their baseless attempts to smear his legacy.