It's ironic that Republicans, who seem to spend all of their time finding things to criticize President Barack Obama for rather than doing anything positive to help our country, are now up in arms regarding his handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro ("Handshake shakes up foes, friends of Cuba," Dec. 11).
Without going into the pros and cons of whether it was appropriate or not, consider the milieu in which this diplomatic incident took place. It was at a ceremony eulogizing the extraordinary life of the man whose singular accomplishment was to rise above the intense animosity and vitriol in South Africa during the apartheid era, and who by embracing his implacable foes, brought peace and a spirit of reconciliation to his country, thereby avoiding what could have been a massive, bloody civil war.
Nelson Mandela's life was a remarkably vivid demonstration of the benefits of finding the road to peace and cooperation as opposed to continuing confrontation.
It doesn't take much imagination to think what this current bunch of the GOP would have thought of Nelson Mandela. Their predecessors voted against a resolution passed by the Senate to have him released from prison. It passed, only to be vetoed by the Republican president, Ronald Reagan.
They were wrong then and they are wrong now, but whatever else can be said of them, they stick by their guns.
Sig Seidenman, Owings Mills
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