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OK, everyone, settle down.
OK, everyone, settle down. (Photo: AFP Photo / Roberto Schmidt)

Let's tone down the Mandela outrage

People are outraged that Barack Obama shook Raoul Castro’s hand.

People are outraged that he posed for a selfie with two other world leaders.

People are outraged that Wisconsin Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner objects to lowering the flag for Nelson Mandela.

People are outraged that Ted Cruz walked out of Castro’s homily to the late African president and freedom fighter.

People are outraged that Mandela memorial service organizers used a fake sign language interpreter, waving his hands in meaningless gibberish.

OK, that last one deserves a little outrage, especially if you’re deaf and somehow don’t have closed captioning on your TV. But as for the rest, take it down a notch, America.

Obama didn’t French kiss Castro on the lips. He didn’t Snapchat a naked photo of himself to Denmark's Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. Sensenbrenner didn’t climb up the flagpole at the Capitol and personally re-raise the American flag, and Cruz didn’t punch Castro on the way out the door.

Let’s keep things in perspective.

A handshake isn’t an official warming of relations between America and Cuba, although that’s long overdue. It was a polite and appropriate gesture at a non-political event like a memorial service. As for Obama’s selfie, even the photographer who took it explained:

"All around me in the stadium, South Africans were dancing, singing and laughing to honor their departed leader. It was more like a carnival atmosphere, not at all morbid. The ceremony had already gone on for two hours and would last another two. The atmosphere was totally relaxed – I didn't see anything shocking in my viewfinder, President of the U.S. or not. We are in Africa."

And as for flags, whether you raise them, lower them or burn them, they’re just fabric symbols. Sensenbrenner has every right to his opinion about whether Old Glory should only be lowered for Americans, although he should be reminded of his 2003 push to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Pope John Paul II.

Cruz, too, could’ve left his grandstanding for a more appropriate time to walk out on Castro, like at a U.N. speech (where it would be commonplace). Walking out on a homily isn’t especially classy, but it’s only a big deal if you make it one.

That example aside, let’s all chill a little and focus our holiday spirits on the good Mandela did, not on the sideshow that his death has become.

If you want to honor Mandela’s life, please do it without the outrage. The fake sign language guy is pretty outrageous, though:

Talkbacks

emills81 | Dec. 13, 2013 at 11:37 a.m. (report)

@ Mel, Speak for yourself! Im still holding out to be influential enough to at least, have the head of the Maldives at my funereal ;). These non-controversy are drummed up by the 24 hour news stations, and the "please click this link" websites.

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melkiper | Dec. 12, 2013 at 5:35 p.m. (report)

E81- fair point. Thanks for the response back. True enough - my only counter is you and I are not former heads of state nor will our funerals or memorials be attended by heads of state - hence why you and I are anonymously posting on OMCs comment section. I just think it's more of a decorum issue based on the person being honored and the people of office / power from all over the world that dictates a different set of rules.

That said, I wish the country could get back to an exchange you and I just had - we don't agree but it was civil and thoughtful (hope you think same of my comments.). Thanks again for your argument back - time for group hug in OMCs office now. Andy - can we stop by?

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emills81 | Dec. 12, 2013 at 4:04 p.m. (report)

@Milk, Im pretty sure the author was telling people not to be outraged. My point was, it is up to the individual on how to interpret it, not to be told by the media one way or another. My personal opinion is, the dude was 95 years old, its not like this was a sudden, unexpected surprise. I know I would prefer my funeral to be a joyful occasion, then some buzz kill memorial.

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melkiper | Dec. 12, 2013 at 2:23 p.m. (report)

emills81 - no one is telling anyone what to do. we're merely commenting on whether it is correct for the POTUS to be taking a "selfie" at a service honoring one of the greatest leaders the world has seen. I'm not telling the POTUS whether he should or not - I am merely expressing my displeasure in the optics of what the series of photos present. Out of context? Perhaps - that appears to be what the apologies for him are "it was a festive service....people were singing and dancing..." Fine - then how come the rows in front of them and his own wife sit stoiclly while he mugs in a selfie? It diminishes the power of the office and the respect we expect from those who hold it - Republican, Democratic, doesn't matter. That is the outrage....I'm with Andy...whether Cruz walks out (why was HE there?) who cares? POTUS shakes Raul Castro's hand? Who cares - it's a time to honor a great human. Taking a selfie with other cool kids honoring a better than average human - unacceptable.

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emills81 | Dec. 12, 2013 at 11:55 a.m. (report)

Tone down, on telling people what to do.

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