A tale of two prisoners. Nelson Mandela spent many years under arrest. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn spent many years in a slave labor camp, as a fugitive and exile, and as a nonperson. Mandela resisted a mildly repressive regime by terrorism. Solzhenitsyn resisted a brutal totalitarian state by heroism and eloquence.
Mandela sought the bestowal of benefits and privileges. Solzhenitsyn sought liberty to work, worship, and think.
Mandela was freed by bringing to bear the power of giant empires and media oligarchies on his own small country. Solzhenitsyn was freed by years of harrowing maneuver against an omnipotent but incompetent state, helped by the attention of handfuls of people in various free countries.
Mandela represents an alien, at bottom incomprehensible culture. Solzhenitsyn represents the deepest and noblest aspirations of our own culture.
Mandela is a very skilled politician. Solzhenitsyn is one of the greatest artists and most eloquent prophets of our age.
In America, Mandela is fawned on by Congress and the President. In America, Solzhenitsyn is avoided by Presidents and other politicians.
What does this tell us about America? Think about it.
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