Critique and illustration by: Chris Talbot-Heindl

If the television at my work playing CNN all day long is any indication of how the American public thinks, then I am both appalled and repulsed by the thoughts of the American public.

As we are all aware, Nelson Mandela recently passed away. CNN has informed me that the important things to know are that: Bill Clinton once disagreed with Mandela (but later, they agreed completely), the U.S. once labeled him a terrorist, a famous actor once played Nelson Mandela (and subsequently was interviewed about what that was like), a schizophrenic man was hired to sign at his memorial service and apparently did not sign actual words and was once accused of rape, and the President took a flirty selfie with the Danish Prime Minister (and the British Prime Minister, but no one cares that he was in the picture too).

All of these “news” stories are as newsworthy as they are pertinent to Nelson Mandela’s life and life’s work, which should have the undivided attention of the American public.

And even those “news” stories had to be exaggerated and made more salacious for pleasure of the public.

I mean, honestly, Anderson Cooper. What did you think you would get for an interview going to a man who suffers from schizophrenia who fake signed at the memorial of one of the most influential man in modern civil rights? A well thought out and meaningful reason as to why?

The stories about the selfie ignore the one thing that I find relevant – the fact that three world leaders found it appropriate to take a selfie in the first place – and go straight for the National Inquisitor angle of, “the threesome” took a “flirty photo;” “Scandinavian beauty,” held her smartphone while “Michelle Obama sat at a distance;” etc. etc. ad infinitum.

In all honesty, creating scandal to titillate your own amusement is about as mature as the President and two Prime Ministers taking a selfie in the first place.

So, for all of you who aren’t 12 year old gossiping girls, who can’t get a story from “journalists,” because they can’t be bothered with the actual news, here is a short and sweet rendition of the life of Nelson Mandela and why his death is actual news that has nothing to do with titillating nonsense and speculation:

  • Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary
  • As a leader against the apartheid, he as arrested, convicted of conspiracy to overthrow the government and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1962
  • He served 27 years in prison before an international campaign lobbying for his release was successful
  • He was awarded the 1993 Nobel Peach Prize
  • He immediately joined negotiations with President F.W. de Klerk to abolish apartheid, create a new flag (the one that is flown today), and establish multiracial elections in 1994
  • He became the first black President of South Africa in 1994, and was elected in a fully representative democratic election
  • He brought many different political parties together in his Cabinet, made a new constitution, and created the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate human rights abuses; he also worked to end poverty and expand healthcare services to South Africans in the five years he was president
  • He was an international mediator as well
  • He later founded the Nelson Mandela Foundation that worked to combat poverty and HIV/AIDS in South Africa