The world will remember him for the good he did rather than the evil he embraced. That's appropriate and praiseworthy; his living legacy to the world will be his support for racial reconciliation rather than the violence of his youth or the incompetence of his administration and successors. But the media's deification of Mandela means that millions around the world will lump in Mandela's bad with his good. Instead of separating Mandela's racial record from his support for communistic regimes, the media celebrate him as a sort of bridge between the Castros of the world and the West. Even more problematic is that President Barack Obama, who warmly shook the hand of Raul Castro at Mandela's funeral, does, too.
This is the problem with our "good person" versus "evil person" view of history. Most of us, in our daily lives, say that someone is "good" when we mean that he is more likely than not to take a good action; we say that someone is "evil" when he is more likely than not to embrace the evil position. But in the Vaseline-covered lens of the media camera, every "good" person becomes a perfect person. The truth is more nuanced: Mandela did some incredible things, and he did some terrible things. The overall analysis of his life will weigh his largest and most important choice as the heaviest, as it should. But that should not mean that all of his sins become virtues, just as for his detractors, all of his virtues should not become sins.
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