‘Why was that stadium half empty?’ Glenn reacts to the media coverage of Nelson Mandela’s memorial service

Last week, Glenn reflected on his conflicting feelings about Nelson Mandela, and ultimately asked his audience to remember Mandela for his principles not his politics. On radio this morning, Glenn furthered that theme as he reacted to the bizarre media coverage of the Mandela’s death and memorial service.

Though the photos and video coverage of today’s memorial service in Johannesburg, South Africa often showed tight shots of the crowd gathered, Glenn could not help but notice what appeared to be a half-empty stadium.

“I'm watching the coverage and no one will talk about why that stadium was half-empty. Now, I don't have the answer. I don't know why. I know it was raining. I know on the radio listening coming in, they were saying people were jammed outside trying to get into the stadium. I saw the pictures on CNN with the reporter standing outside an empty parking lot saying a lot of the people just went home. I know that people lined up at midnight to get in,” Glenn said. “But it was half-empty. The field was empty. That might have been for security. I don't know. But the seats were half-empty, except under cover. Now, that's still a lot of people, but I wonder why the networks framed almost every shot so you didn't see the half-empty stadium. Now, is it possible that it was because of rain? Yes, it is possible.”

While much of the world as deified Mandela, Glenn questioned whether South Africa looks at their former leader in the same way.

“South Africa does not look at Nelson Mandela the way the rest of the world looks at Nelson Mandela. They don't deify him. He's not a god there. He is a guy who changed the world, who could have gone for violence and instead went for peace. He is a great man. He is also a communist,” Glenn said. “But why was there no comment on where were the people of South Africa? Now, I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people, you know, lining the streets, I would hope. But they don't look at him the same way. And I think we're already rewriting history.”

President Obama gave a speech during a memorial service that Glenn described as “fine,” even though it was a tad self-serving.

“So then the President gets up today, and he gives a fine speech – I think makes it about him again, what a surprise – but gives a fine speech. And he says the world will never see another Nelson Mandela,” Glenn explained. “Well, I don't know… that is true in any way, shape, or form other than that individual soul will not be reincarnated… I disagree with [him] wholeheartedly.”

While Stu argued President Obama probably meant the world would never see someone as great as Mandela again, Glenn disagreed with the logic. Instead, Glenn contended that you are capable of being the next Nelson Mandela, or George Washington, or Gandhi. It is up to the individual to decide:

See, this is the problem. The president has got to single this man out and say he is unique. And don't get me wrong. Nelson Mandela is unique. He had the chance to turn South Africa into a blood bowl, and he instead chose peace. Remarkable choice. Remarkable choice. Look at the whole man, and that's where the President is conflicted. And I think that's where a lot of people in South Africa are conflicted. The guy is a Communist. And I love these communists that come out… and tell you, ‘Well, I'm special, but you can never be special. You will never be this way.’ That's why the President had to get up and say there will never be another man like that.

Instead the President should have said one man did make a difference. He did make a difference. And don't let me or anyone else tell you that you cannot make a difference because you can…. In the quiet times in prison, he was blessed to understand the power of the individual. He believed in his heart and in his soul that it only takes one. It only takes one, one that truly believes in the power of love.

Why was Nelson Mandela in prison for so long? Nelson Mandela was in the prison for so long because the government was terrified of him. You couldn't print a picture of Nelson Mandela. Why? They wanted people to forget who he was…. And I would like an answer on the numbers of the stadium because it's important that we understand: Are people forgetting who he was already? Do people in his own country have a different view of him? Why was that stadium half-empty? It puzzled me, and I haven't heard anybody talk about it. Why? It's important to know the answer because if people don't know who Nelson Mandela is, they need to know who he is: A man who believed in the power of one; a man who could have chosen hate. He could have chosen and said, ‘I'm going to get even,’ or he could have just given up. But he didn't.

You see, governments fear the individual. That's why governments tell you can't do it. They fear the individual. They fear the next Nelson Mandela. And I tell you: You are the next Nelson Mandela. You are the next Martin Luther King. You are the next Gandhi. You are the next Abraham Lincoln. You are the next George Washington. Or you will be the next bum in the street. You will be the next Jim Crow. You choose. You will be the next Al Capone. The choice of the individual is clear. It is there every single day. What do you choose today? Will you choose to be quiet? Will you choose to hate? Will you choose jealousy, envy, pity, or do you seek out those things that will uplift and inspire? Will you seek out those things that are the true you?

[…]

We have not seen the last Nelson Mandela. We have not seen the last Martin Luther King or the last Gandhi because you are here. You can do what they did. And you can do more. Be an example for others. Realize your full potential. That shining city on the hill is just over the horizon. Stake your claim in the town square. Stand tall in it. Let your voice be heard. If you happen to be listening to me in prison right now, know that is the place that made Nelson Mandela. Your life belongs to you.

Nelson Mandela taught us one thing: That one man makes a government quake. One man staking his claim and being his highest self brings the world to its knees. One man makes a difference. Be that one man.

Front page image courtesy of the AP

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