1-6-21

1-6-21

Whether good friends or African newspapers I’m being asked, “How could this be America?” I can’t answer all individually. Below is one reply.

Dear Brian,

Yesterday was not surprising and I am concerned with your personal perception (and that of so many of my other friends) that this “is not the America I know.”  It is precisely the America I know.

I was beaten in the streets of Madison WI as a college demonstrator, chased by police in Chicago, had my phones tapped and my identification ripped from me by U.S. government agents… and all that happened before I was jailed in Conakry, kidnapped in Kano and stared at the wheels of a Sherman tank that were taller than me in Goma.  My affinity for Africa I’m sure comes in part from a maturing personality that grasped soul matches in the turbulence of Africa. 

But why all this? is the question. I’ve spent my life wondering and there’s no simple answer, but there are broad understandings.

Your split from Brexit is a good start. I know that you supported it.  It’s the opposite of “all for one, and one for all.”  It’s when sports bifurcate between teams and super stars, when pay for the CEO grows exponentially beyond his floor worker, when walls to keep out different looking people turn into barricades dividing mothers and their babes into separate cages, when “tax refunds” double the wealth of a billionaire but leave a quarter of our children in poverty.  It’s all about division rather than unity.

Divide and conquer.  Divide off and prosper (Brexit).  Divide so far that compromise is antithetical to the positions that remain.

It’s hyper-individualism, which might have been useful when the vacant prairie was dusted by drought a hundred years ago, but today it’s absurd.  The world is in too much of a crisis for any part of it to pretend they can go it alone. It’s delusional – truly clinically psychopathic for any person today to think they can live without the help of strangers half way round the world.

Critical to this analysis is that any governing document that is two and half centuries old can’t possibly work except to inhibit solutions.

Most of us use phones and computers and dozens of other gizmos about which we don’t have a clue as to how they work.  All we know is that every few years they grow obsolete and we’ve got to get a new one. Recently we’ve even begun to give up our visible gizmos to trust “the cloud.” If we do this automatically in our daily lives, what is stopping us from doing it with the governance of our society?

America’s constitution is like my first laptop, a 1980’s Zenith box.  It’s neither equipped nor was it intended to last more than a few years.  The American constitution is an incredibly beautiful document, a foundational document that liberated the subject from its sovereign.  But it’s too old, now, and it’s remaining functional capability is to stop change.  Good minds have tried to work with it by piling on tomes of interpretation but therein is lost any governing core.  We need a governing core, and not one no more valuable than Homo erectus.

This is the morning after a single battle. Perhaps, now, we’ll begin to remember the others: Baltimore, Orlando, Portland, etc., etc. The skies are momentarily clear of smoke and screams.  The few people killed and busloads of injured last night are thousands less than those killed and tens of thousands less than those hospitalized yesterday by Covid. This is no anomaly. It was called for, predicted, wholly anticipated. This is nothing unique. Terrifying insurgencies happen all over America, all the time.

The crazy instigators including our President’s advisors and the weak, shameful politicians who enabled his wanton destruction have begun to divide themselves into enervated losers and delusional religious fanatics. But left standing is the megalomaniac himself and half the society he has brainwashed.  Every instant until he leaves has a potential for some yet unimagined historical explosion.  The story continues.

Fondly,
JIM

African Aspect

African Aspect

Particularly for my African friends, suddenly bombarded with their media exhalations of joy with the Georgia race, puncturing with nuclear force the silences that I had attributed to a sagacious long-view of history. Regain the patience you are so notable for. This tiny moment in history does not an epoch make. Trump is alive and well.

Recognize a stark and striking difference between America and all the rest of the “free world.” Our democracy is not. Our aged system is designed to inhibit change, because the change that gave us our revolution from Britain was so fragile that once secured it had to be stopped for fear of reversing itself.

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Original undoctored sketch by the AP’s Elizabeth Cook

A prematurely old man limped onto on his bench in a cold, damp courtroom this weekend listening to an equally enervated prosecutor behind him whose grotesque mole finally shown as his pandemic mask slid too far down his cheek.

The social and cultural debauchery of the last four years in America has revealed all its moles. The UK judge rejected the old prosecutors’ appeal to extradite Julian Assange to the United States, because America’s prison system is “oppressive.”

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It had been a dismal reign for the Mwene, Nkanga a Mvika, ruler of the Great Kingdom of The Kongo. He lived day-in and day-out with the shame his father had brought on his people by making peace with the Portuguese. His father had even been forced to accept a European name, Pedro.

The unimaginable wealth flaunted by his subjects who now wore European clothing and enjoyed great new herds of cattle because of Portuguese guns had forgotten that the slaves they always enjoyed were no longer treated well when slammed into the bosom of the Portuguese naus at the burgeoning port of Moçâmedes. Their great families of elephant were many fewer than before. Yes, they were rich, but few knew as The Mwene did of the debauchery behind this mischief.

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Everyone wants to know: what will happen to the Republicans? Look to South Africa.

You know the “ANC,” the party of Mandela, but in American terms it’s the Republican Party of South Africa: The ANC dominated South Africa just like the Republican Party dominated America. It had a crazy president who left in disgrace then spent the next years dodging jail, while dozens of his cronies and former ministers and family did go to jail! Then, just when you thought he was gone for good! He’s back to crack the party in two!

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Travelers are miffed by the new CDC guidelines reducing recommended quarantine for Covid-19 to 7 days, since so many countries continue to require a 14-day quarantine for Americans following their arrival.

Note carefully how other countries in the world interpret this shameful move by the CDC. No other major public health authority in the world has shortened the recommended quarantine period.

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Most of the group was asleep. It was a full moon and a still, warm night and everything we did was watched by our minders who were watched by the militia.

I was leading a group of journalists and experts, the first Americans allowed back into Ethiopia since the Dirge broke with the West and allied with the Soviet Union. It was hard, tense work reminding the dilettantes that we could all be killed if they didn’t behave.

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Hey, You Northern Hemispheric Dude! Remember when spring turned to summer and for brief periods you forgot about the virus? Unmasked walks and picnics with friends?

Despite that not being such a good idea, your friends on the other side of the world are going through that right now, and just like you they’re pretending.

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A primer for my African friends:
The 2020 election, its comparison with 2016, and what it tells you about Americans.

Trumpists are seriously trying to disrupt the results, but my life in Africa is too raw for me to be able to fairly assess this, so for the purpose of this blog I’m presuming they won’t prevail… It could be months before the results are widely accepted by the American politic, but I’m basing this blog on the assumption that the Democrats achieve full governance on January 20.

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I stood in front of the Congolese Army tank, its giant shooting nozzle arched far above my head into a meaningless wilderness. It probably couldn’t shoot, anyway: It was there simply to stop us from crossing the border.

The Rwanda genocide was forming, but I had eight clients leaving Kigali, Rwanda, that night. The thousand-year divide between the Hutus and Tutsis had finally touched me. It’s nothing compared to the divide in America today.

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AR

AR

Apartheid was coming apart. Reagan had just been overridden by Congress and lethal sanctions were about to fall on South Africa.

My partner and I packed our bags and raced to Joburg certain that young fellows from America would now be needed to market the “New South Africa” to the angry and suspicious Americans who had toppled them.

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My daughter watched a plane fly into a twin tower on 9/11 from her apartment roof in New York. I heard the bombing of the Kenyan embassy and ten minutes later from the garden of my nearby hotel pieces of eyeglasses, jangling key chains and fabric fell out of the sky at my feet. Both of us later saw horrible pain and destruction.

“August seventh” was as big to Kenya as nine-eleven was to America. The relative number of people killed and maimed, the heroism of rescuers, the damage to politics, economy and society – it was all comparable. Even the perpetrators’ beliefs, religion and motivations for suicide were the same. What was different?

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