Rick Santorum compares Obamacare to apartheid

Santorum believes the institutional and systemic segregation of black South Africans is like affordable healthcare

Published December 6, 2013 3:37PM (EST)

  (Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)
(Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

Rick Santorum appeared on the "The O'Reilly Factor" on Thursday night and "honored" the legacy of Nelson Mandela by comparing Obamacare to apartheid.

"Nelson Mandela stood up against a great injustice and was willing to pay a huge price for that, and that’s the reason he is mourned today, because of that struggle that he performed," Santorum said. "And I would make the argument that we have a great injustice going on right now in this country with an ever increasing size of government that is taking over and controlling people’s lives, and Obamacare is front and center in that."

Santorum equated the institutional and systemic segregation and political and economic marginalization of black South Africans to expanded access to affordable healthcare after host Bill O'Reilly finished calling Mandela a Communist. O'Reilly went on to boast that he had "spent some time in South Africa," during which he personally told South African social justice icon Desmond Tutu, "I disagree with you and Mr. Mandela, but I respect you."

The entire exchange is outrageous, but Adam Peck at ThinkProgress also points out that, beyond being ridiculous and deeply offensive, Santorum's comments erase Mandela's struggle to bring affordable healthcare to all South Africans.

"After bringing an end to apartheid rule, Mandela enshrined in the new South African constitution a fundamental right to health care for all citizens, and introduced a government-funded public health care system to help cover those who could not afford the private system already in place," Peck notes. "That was the foundation for a new universal health care system the country unveiled two years ago, which is now expanding to cover the entire country by 2026."

You can watch the clip here:

h/t Mediaite

By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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Apartheid Bill O'reilly Institutional Racism Nelson Mandela Racism Rick Santorum Video White Privilege