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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мат

мат

russiainafricaRussia wasted no time using Trump’s election to increase its global power. Yesterday it thrust a masterful spear between Africa and the U.S. by aligning itself with African countries threatening to withdraw from the World Court.

The renegade power’s lightning fast global moves have been reported this morning in Central America, Syria, and of course right here in America, but it is in Africa where Russia may be most successful acting so quickly.

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Triumphant Tutu

Triumphant Tutu

tutuOne of the world’s gentlest, most thoughtful and consequential men is sick and dying but more importantly, suffering. After 85 years he has changed his mind: euthanasia is right.

Desmond Tutu, the revered Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate and winner of countless other peace prizes including America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, is above all a deeply religious, non-violent man. His prolonged sickness broke his resolve against euthanasia two years ago when he wrote in an Op-Ed in the Guardian “I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying.”

Tutu’s arguments are not religious ones, and that is what has attracted me to his thinking. His arguments are practical, political.

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No Change … Again

No Change … Again

nochangeLook, it’s happening all over the world. I’m going to compare two places I know, South Africa and the U.S.

South African society is just beginning to seriously hurt about a year after a similar sort of political turmoil hit them to our Trump election, the re-election of a clearly incompetent executive that an entrenched political party was then only partially able to control.

Year-long protests nearly shut down the country’s educational system and the economy has started to decline much more seriously than globally or for other African countries. About a year ahead of the U.S. in terms of political change, this could foreshadow the U.S.

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Tuesday Follows Monday

Tuesday Follows Monday

probabilitiesPredictions matter. Trends across divergent, widely different worlds matter. This isn’t just a cathartic prognostication of a released Cubs’ fan. Tuesday, remarkable changes will afflict the already fatigued and troubled people of the U.S. and South Africa.

Call me superstitious but you’d be wrong. The world is so globally connected, media so lightning fast, that everything effects everything else in similar ways. Tuesday both the U.S. and South Africa may both have new presidents that the majority of their people don’t like and don’t want.

Is this democracy?

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Heed History

Heed History

trumpandzumaThe current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has nearly destroyed his country. He rose to power on the negative emotions of a neglected class of people, and he had no idea what to do once there.

Jacob Zuma’s rise to power and destruction has many similarities to Donald Trump’s, and above all the lesson to be learned is that he is real, not just a pixel personality that you can switch off.

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Wealth vs Intelligence

Wealth vs Intelligence

getwhatupayforThe first student killed in South Africa’s year-long protests occurred yesterday near Pretoria when a driver ran his car into a line of protestors.

Street violence is not new in post-apartheid South Africa. Police have shot protestors (in mining strikes, for example), but this is a first for student demonstrations and the first time that citizen-against-citizen violence has reached this level.

Things are escalating; they’re getting serious. The Rand is falling, tourism is starting to balk and everyday life is changing. The time has come to tell South Africa, “You better get your act together.” And the time has come that the rest of us recognize a very important lesson before what is happening in the streets of South Africa spreads worldwide.

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#Everything Must Fall

#Everything Must Fall

thisiseducationSouth Africa’s respected university system is in chaos. Most universities are closed because of violent protests.

The two most prestigious, the University of Cape Town (UCT) and the University of Witwatersrand (WITS) manage to occasionally open but violent protests disrupt most classes.

While the ostensible issue is the cost of tuition and fees, I think there’s something much deeper, reflecting a very troubled South Africa.

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