Live Free To Die

Live Free To Die

protecting democracyUltimately it’s a matter of whether the people in power are good or bad. Doesn’t really matter whether they won an election or ascended a throne, whether they’re an elected judge or an appointed one. They’re either good or bad.

But as multiple African countries show, today, there’s a lot of bad running democracies. Listen quick: I’m not saying authoritarian regimes are better than democracies. I’m just saying there can be just as much badness in democracy as in authoritarianism.

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Rhino Ruse

Rhino Ruse

rhinoauctionThere are 65 world treaties governing such things as conduct in war, rights of the child and trade of endangered species (CITES). The first was in 1865 (governing the breakthrough telegraph) and the latest in 2006 (governing the rights of the disabled).

Getting the whole wide world to agree on something isn’t easy. It represents man’s greatest achievement: These treaties define mankind. Friday, one man in South Africa will defy one of these treaties with the blessings of a misguided South African court.

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Double Doofuses

Double Doofuses

trumpdoofuszumaSouth Africans delightedly use Trump as a global explanation for their own Jacob Zuma, but if we get distracted by colorful individuals at the helm of complex political systems imploding all around us, we’ll have created nothing to fill the vacuum that follows their recklessness.

Wasting time trying to pin sophisticated crimes on the “orange doofus” (as South Africans describe Trump) will fatally delay fixing the system.

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SAfrica Guidance

SAfrica Guidance

nscSAfricaStudy carefully the picture above. (The inset is mine of South African protests, today.) That’s the website page that millions, maybe billions of people worldwide access to understand U.S. foreign policy. And that’s how it looked this morning: Come Back Later.

As a group of activists in my small town discussed the possibility of creating a new political force, I found particular use in the image above.

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Buffoon Bastions

Buffoon Bastions

buffoontrumpJacob Zuma and Donald Trump are as different as the politics and societies of South Africa and the U.S. Yet the similarities make me wonder if we ought to watch carefully now what’s happening in South Africa as Zuma incrementally destroys the country he leads.

Yesterday the Rand ended a struggled recovery, the country’s bond status fell to the junk floor, there was yet another major cabinet reshuffling, the Deputy President of the country criticized the President, and Parliament began what in America we call impeachment.

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Year of the Jackal

Year of the Jackal

jackalskilledFile “science as scandal:” For a long time South Africans have culled heavily in their national parks even as many scientists vociferously argued against doing so. Now it seems that in some kind of warped tolerance if not outright trickery South African officials managed a big cull of jackals… to prove that culling jackals doesn’t work!

Why would they cull to prove culling doesn’t work? Well, that we don’t know. What we do know is this:

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Artsy Fartsy

Artsy Fartsy

fuck white peopleCan a piece of art be hate speech? A year-long furor in South Africa blew up yesterday when a gang of white men calmly entered Cape Town’s prestigious National Art Museum and plastered a large sticker reading “Love Thy Neighbour” over a “F**k White People” pop-art canvas.

What’s illegal here? The vigilantes believed South Africa’s strict hate speech laws weren’t being enforced, but were they breaking laws protecting the artist’s freedom of speech?

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The Last Laugh?

The Last Laugh?

lastlaughThe alt-right may be ecstatic, but the majority of us in the world are increasingly depressed. And now guess what? There’s no comic relief.

A much watched tongue-in-cheek news podcast in South Africa recently replaced twenty years of sarcasm with all that’s left: “there’s only bad news.”

I thought of South Africa’s much loved Evita Bezuidenhoutis after watching this week’s opening sketch of Saturday Night Live. Plays on Trump’s naivete if ignorance are less funny now, because they’ve turned out to be real. The news was wrong: Sarcasm is the truth.

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Their Fault

Their Fault

their-faultXenophobia infects, kills and spreads like any biological virus: “Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba … speaks loudly about illegal foreigners and tells them to leave his city … because of the right-wing frenzy whipped up by Trump.”

A pandemic spreads until it dies out: It’s not reversible. Trump may have softened his xenophobic rhetoric in the U.S., but it’s only growing in South Africa.

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Battle #1 in The War

Battle #1 in The War

assaultonfreespeechIf you’ve got something to say, say it now.

The world is contracting into conservative populism and freedom of expression is in the gun site. Trump idly suggests shutting down the internet or incarceration for flag burning, and legislators in Kenya and South Africa kick gleefully into high gear.

Stalled legislation in both countries to curtail the press and freedom of speech is moving forward, again.

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A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words

ugandapicturewordsAnyone taking a picture is arrested or shot. Then, Facebook takes down the pictures of the courageous who manage to post the massacre. A Kenyan TV journalist is charged with “abetting terrorism” for taking … TV video.

And most noteworthy of all, the organizer of the massacre, self-imposed Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni poses for a “government picture” in sunny South Africa with its despised leader, Jacob Zuma. You can truly wonder in Trumpian vernacular, “What the f*#! is happening in the world today!”

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Genderright

Genderright

semenyaToday Elle magazine’s South African cover was the controversial, victorious woman athlete Caster Semenya. Semenya trounces all others in track and field and carried home Olympic gold for South Africa this year.

Her critics contend she is either not a woman or too androgynous to be allowed to participate as a woman. She’s undergone intense scientific scrutiny which certainly became personal humiliation. Legitimate concerns about the efficacy of the division between “men” and “women” in sports competition got hopelessly muddled in the process of investigating her gender.

In the end sports authorities accepted she had crossed the finish line first as a woman, but they’ve punted on the issue of whether or not she is a “woman.” Where does this leave us?

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