A Woman for the Ages
It was an era in which women were expected to be housewives and little more. Men were not simply considered different in terms of strengths and abilities (and certainly they are created with unique abilities) but actually superior to women in virtually every sense. If you wanted to do anything outside the societal parameters set in place, the odds were not stacked in your favor. No matter—this daughter of a grocer went on to study chemistry at Oxford University, and would later win a seat in her nation’s representative body at the age of just 33. Not unlike the momentum that would define the rest of her life, she became her nation’s education secretary and in the course of a few years, her party’s leader. As if these accomplishments weren’t enough, she carried on straight into her greatest role—that of Prime Minister; becoming the first female leader since the office’s institution. To date, no other woman has ever achieved such heights in her nation’s politics.
She also married a man named Dennis and raised a family with him throughout it all.
While occupying her highest office, she blazed trails unlike hardly anyone before her dared to do. A few of her incredible accomplishments include:
- Dramatically reducing oppressive, stifling taxes, enticing the best and brightest to once again thrive in her nation
- Returning government-run industries to private hands
- Swiftly dealing with union thuggary through common-sense reforms, lifting yet another dead weight from around the neck of the nation’s economy
- Beating back Communism with another notable leader of the time, ending a decades-long Cold War
To be sure, the results of her leadership didn’t initially resemble a walk in the park. Nonetheless, she wasn’t afraid to make Britain take the bitter medicine it so desperately needed to avoid the she knew it would otherwise face. Not surprisingly, the pains that Britain went through in her first term pushed even those in her own party to seek a shift in tactic. Her response to those who sought to make her compromise was plain: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” She was unwavering. And it worked. As the New York Times recalls, “Her policies revitalized . . . business, spurred industrial growth and swelled the middle class.”
She saved a nation from the brink, and she didn’t back down when the going got tough. And indeed, it often did.
Oppression at the hands of ruthless rulers is an illness our world has forever endured, despite the many (successful in some places) attempts to quell it. For every instance in which challenging these ills has been successful, many still live under oppression’s iron hand.
Wars of revolution are never bloodless. They happen all over the world, for many reasons—typically to end the oppression of which I speak. Whichever the motive, people do and will die. Killing on the battlefield under your nation’s colors is one thing; terrorism is entirely another.
One man—now a world-renowned figure—believed otherwise. In his efforts to rid his nation of the evils of racial oppression, he fought to reject the self-imposed non-violence platform from which his rebellion operated, and instead sought to bring about change through the very violence he purportedly sought to eradicate. Specifically, Heather Clark notes:
“[Dr. Peter] Hammond outlined that [this individual] was the head of the military wing of the African National Committee (ANC), which Hammond also referred to as ‘the abortion, necklacing and corruption party.’ He said that 1,000 Africans were killed by necklacing in the country through the ANC, an act where terrorists would ‘put an automobile tire over someone, pour petrol over them [and] set them alight.’ Hammond also described numerous other acts of violence that he alleges were committed by the ANC under the order or oversight of [this individual] ‘Missionaries and their kids [were] murdered, bayonetted [sic] on the fields—whole families killed by landmines planted in the roads’ he said. The South African missionary stated that [this man’s] wife Winnie also participated in violent acts. ‘[She] actually was found guilty in court of the murder of a 12-year-old boy,’ he explained. ‘And it was upheld on appeal. She was sentenced to five years in prison, [but] she hasn’t served a day.’”
Later in life—and in the way the world now remembers his—his tactics changed . . . at least superficially. Eventually he sought to end oppression in his nation through less violent forms—eventually winning him a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. And indeed, he spent nearly 30 years (of what was originally a life sentence) in prison for the violence he backed.
Nonetheless, he continued on in friendships with world leaders and revolutionaries who, like him, violently suppressed their opposition. (Think Castro, Arafat, Gaddafi, and Suharto.) He is also purported to have kept a rather massive image of violent Communist Vladamir Lenin on his office wall.
In an effort to dispel his past transgressions, attempts are often made to liken this leader to a Biblical “Paul” figure—someone who spent a great deal of his life slaughtering Christians but later repented. Paul, dear readers, didn’t remain friends with those who continued to kill the Christians . . . or in the case of the leader in question, with those who continued to suppress freedom. Paul also didn’t continue to celebrate the killing of his opposition as this man did when—after his supposed self-reform—still sang an anthem that called for the killing of the Boer (white, for the record) farmers.
In fairness, this man indeed played a significant (albeit violent, as we have uncovered) role in liberating his nation from the grips of apartheid. But as for South Africans’ quality of life, this man’s management of his nation juxtaposed with that of the aforementioned leader leaves much to be desired. Though some improvements were experienced by South Africans, “the fruits of the BEE policies tended to end up in the pockets of a politically well-connected elite.” Precious little is different today. In fact, by some measures people are worse off today than before the apartheid ended. This nation is still mired in poverty and violence.
By now, you’ve likely guessed the leaders of whom I speak—one is the late Lady Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of England, and the other is the late Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa.
This year, the world lost both of these leaders. One was celebrated with exuberant gusto; the other was more calmly memorialized . . . and at times, even protested.
Care to venture a guess as to who’s who?
Come back tomorrow as The Tale of Two Leaders continues . . .