Search results for ‘mugabe’

The Fascist Impulse « Jon Taplin’s Blog on Georgia, and Vanity Fair on Mugabe

I haven’t said much about the Russia/Georgia thing. Truthdig’s Robert Scheer is on ABC’s Unleashed with a conspiracy theory which grossly overestimates the importance of the USA, paradoxically. Sure, the US has had a role here, and Russian paranoia about US-NATO missile shields and the sense of encirclement generated by this and US support for Georgia have played their part in what otherwise is an old-fashioned, but very dangerous, bit of territorial/nationalist brinkmanship, as has the world’s addiction to oil. But I really don’t buy the “it’s all about the US elections” line Scheer takes. The Fascist Impulse « Jon Taplin’s Blog offers another take, and he discusses the matter on a number of other posts as well.

…I have always been fascinated by the bully boys who are attracted to the military solution to every problem, but would never think of joining the Army themselves. The British historian Hobsbawm described them as ” a relatively small, but absolutely numerous, minority for whom uniform and discipline, sacrifice-of self and others- and blood arms and power were what made masculine life worth living.”…

…Russia, like almost every country in the world (including Iran) relies on the international capital markets to finance it’s growth. The power of the West to modify Russia’s behavior lies in it’s willingness to impose capital sanctions, not in the fools errand of starting a new war in the Caucuses.Russian companies and individuals have billions stashed in Western banks and they need Wall Street and London financing desperately…

I am well aware that John McCain and his handlers think that all this saber rattling plays to his advantage. But once the Berlin Wall fell, Russia became as dependant on the capital markets as the U.S. The bully boys don’t want to think that their simplistic solution (send in the Marines to Georgia) is not the smart solution.

The discussion in the comment thread which follows fully justifies your visiting.

And yes, I think we have all been wonder-struck as Len in Texas was on his Quote of the day on Friday:

“Bullying and intimidation are not acceptable ways to conduct foreign policy in the 21st century.” — Republican George W. Bush, August 15, 2008.

Meanwhile an issue I do visit here from time to time: Robert Mugabe. There is an excellent article in Vanity Fair, again offered in the Arts & Letters Daily: “Day of the Crocodile” by Peter Godwin.

Mugabe’s party is divided now between hawks and doves, between hard-liners and conciliators, and it is riven as well by rival succession candidates. Mugabe’s clan totem is Gushungo—meaning “crocodile” in Shona, the language of most Zimbabweans—and on the occasion of his 83rd birthday, last year, a giant stuffed crocodile was presented to him as a symbol of his “majestic authority.” But even the wiliest crocodiles eventually tire and die, and the word on the street was that he had been stung by the extent of his defeat, and that his young wife, Grace, had urged him to step down and enjoy his last years with their three children in his 25-bedroom mansion. The mood in Harare was expectant, even giddy.

I grew up and was educated in Zimbabwe, served as a conscript, and maintain close ties to the country. Because of these roots I have been able to live and travel there even at times, such as the present, when other foreign journalists have been expelled. In Harare that afternoon I spent time with friends as the hours wore on. Finally an old school chum called to say that “the General”—his uncle, a politburo member and a former guerrilla commander—had at last emerged from Jongwe House, and that the meeting was over.

The General, Solomon Mujuru, is now considered a “moderate,” but he was not ever thus. Twenty-five years ago, not long after the end of the war of liberation, the General had once put a gun to my heart and threatened to kill me. The gun was a Russian-made Tokarev with a mother-of-pearl handle. Odd how you remember such details. The General had been working his way through a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label at the time, but his grip was steady.

This was in 1984, during the Matabeleland massacres, when Mugabe unleashed his fearsome North Korea–trained Fifth Brigade into that southern province to crush the opposition. I had written about the massacres for a British newspaper, which is what prompted the General to draw his gun when our paths crossed.

But now, on April 4, the General had bad news to report. In the end Mugabe had decided that he intended to do everything necessary to retain his powers. Behind the scenes the presidential ballot boxes would be effectively stuffed to indicate that Morgan Tsvangirai, though still winning more votes than Mugabe, had not achieved the 50 percent threshold necessary for election. (This was possible because there had been a third candidate in the race.) Further, in the weeks leading up to the runoff, Mugabe would wage a campaign of bloody intimidation to ensure that Zimbabwe’s voters understood where their self-interest lay. Indeed, a secret battle plan was actually drawn up, in detail. A leaked copy dated April 9 was shown to me; the key section carried the heading “Covert Operations to Decompose the Opposition.”

Do read it. Just in case the link ceases to work, I have uploaded a PDF copy: Day of the Crocodile.

Comments Off on The Fascist Impulse « Jon Taplin’s Blog on Georgia, and Vanity Fair on Mugabe

Posted by on August 17, 2008 in Africa, America, current affairs, Europe, magazines, other blogs, politics, USA


Divine right of Mugabes and other illusions

Well, now we have it. The man is barking mad.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe says “only God” can remove him from office, as the opposition MDC considers pulling out of next week’s run-off election amid escalating violence.

“The MDC will never be allowed to rule this country – never ever,” Mr Mugabe told local business people in Bulawayo – Zimbabwe’s second largest city – referring to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

“Only God who appointed me will remove me, not the MDC, not the British.” — ABC News.

I can’t help but reflect on the sad history of good ideas gone wrong.
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And how about that Mugabe…?

Oh my God, when will Africa’s most recently unelected “leader” die of old age, retire, disappear, self-destruct, or become the victim of a well-deserved assassination?

ABC reports:

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has used the United Nations world food summit in Rome to accuse Britain of fomenting Western efforts to bring on an “illegal regime change” in his country by crippling it economically.

Mr Mugabe’s presence at the summit has been roundly condemned by countries including Australia, Britain and the USA who accuse him of plunging millions of Zimbabweans into hunger.

Zimbabwe’s inflation is 165,000 per cent, unemployment 80 per cent and there are chronic shortages of basic necessities including food and fuel. Some 3.5 million people have fled to escape poverty.

Mr Mugabe used his speech to the summit to defend his policy of seizing land from white farmers, saying 300,000 families had been given land in a program designed to ensure food security.

He accused Britain and other western countries of trying to force him from power with sanctions that had crippled Zimbabwe’s economy.

“In retaliation for the measures we took to empower the black majority, the United Kingdom has mobilised their friends and allies in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand to impose illegal economic sanctions against Zimbabwe,” he said…

As one ABC commenter says: “Amazing, Mugabe is in control and he is blaming everyone else for what goes wrong. The food grows or does not grow in Zimbabwe subject to what the Zimbabwean Government does, it is out of the control of everyone outside Zimbabwe. Mugabe needs to have his mind de-colonised. Start taking responsibility for HIS actions.”

Meanwhile, check out how this “defender of the poor” lives, in splendour that his colonial predecessors could only have dreamed of!

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Posted by on June 4, 2008 in Africa, current affairs, Postcolonial


Bob "Perfidious Albion Is Still to Blame, Not My Idiocy" Mugabe and his Great Election

Keep you eye on:


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Comments Off on Bob "Perfidious Albion Is Still to Blame, Not My Idiocy" Mugabe and his Great Election

Posted by on March 31, 2008 in Africa, current affairs, events


Blogging the Noughties: 7 — 2004

Yes, believe it or not, I have been blogging for the whole decade! This is the seventh of a series.

No guarantee the links still work! These are taken directly from copies of the old Diary-X blog.


Boxing Day: You can read the Queen’s Speech now. "Discrimination still exists. Some people feel that their own beliefs are being threatened. Some are unhappy about unfamiliar cultures. They all need to be reassured that there is so much to be gained by reaching out to others; that diversity is indeed a strength and not a threat."

And just for fun, if you have never seen it before, check the science of Santa Claus.

Christmas Day: later: A surprise visit from M with gifts. 🙂 Also a letter had arrived here from his older sister in Shanghai, the gist: thanking him for reuniting his family during his visit earlier in the year… Very apt for the season…

As was the Queen’s Christmas Message, I thought. I still have considerable regard for that old girl. Can’t link to it yet as it is still under embargo, it only being morning in London: but we have heard it here is Sydney half an hour ago. It sent a strong message on pluralism and tolerance.

Christmas Day 2004: My dinner companion last night tells me he has now had AIDS – not HIV but AIDS – for nine years. He is just out of hospital, again, having had a sojourn there since I last saw him two weeks ago. He looks well, considering, and his spirits are as ever amazingly good. We talk of many things, such as the "political correctness", which he opposes, that makes some paranoid about Christmas. I too don’t accept we should be too namby pamby with all this "Happy Holiday" stuff: so far as Christmas symbolises peace on earth and goodwill to all men (I don’t mind the odd bit of so-called sexist langage either) I am all for it.

"After all," my friend says, "Australia is a Christian country."

"No it’s not," I reply. "It is I hope a secular country. Of course George Pell and Fred Nile would like it to be a Christian country, but it isn’t."

But of course it owes a lot to the Christian tradition. Really, the best we can do is cherry-pick the decent parts of all religions and live and let live, don’t you think? I find the God of so many in this world seems merely a cosmic extension on an earthly tyrant, prone to jealous rages, psychopathic attacks, and given apparently to punishing thought-crimes, or failure to accept the party line, with eternal flames in Hell. Or so your very traditional Christian or your full-on Muslim believer would have it. Jews seem much less fond of Hell. Perhaps they know deep down, after their historical experience, that Hell is here on earth and in the dark hearts of human beings. Especially of True Believers.

These thoughts might seem black for Christmas, but not really. As we think of good will towards all men and peace on earth, think of the enemies of good will and peace and reject their thoughts root and branch. Take George Bush’s little mate Gerald Allen for example:

Earlier this week, Allen got a call from Washington. He will be meeting with President Bush on Monday. I asked him if this was his first invitation to the White House. "Oh no," he laughs. "It’s my fifth meeting with Mr Bush."

Bush is interested in Allen’s opinions because Allen is an elected Republican representative in the Alabama state legislature. He is Bush’s base. Last week, Bush’s base introduced a bill that would ban the use of state funds to purchase any books or other materials that "promote homosexuality". Allen does not want taxpayers’ money to support "positive depictions of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle". That’s why Tennessee Williams and Alice Walker have got to go.

I ask Allen what prompted this bill. Was one of his children exposed to something in school that he considered inappropriate? Did he see some flamingly gay book displayed prominently at the public library?

No, nothing like that. "It was election day," he explains. Last month, "14 states passed referendums defining marriage as a relationship between a man and a woman". Exit polls asked people what they considered the most important issue, and "moral values in this country" were "the top of the list".

"Traditional family values are under attack," Allen informs me. They’ve been under attack "for the last 40 years". The enemy, this time, is not al-Qaida. The axis of evil is "Hollywood, the music industry". We have an obligation to "save society from moral destruction". We have to prevent liberal libarians and trendy teachers from "re-engineering society’s fabric in the minds of our children". We have to "protect Alabamians".

You may read a number of responses to this mindless drivel here on Broadway World. Why is the 21st century after the birth of Jesus still plagued with this steaming crap?

Master Allen would probably be horrified to learn that he is at least in this "crusade" – loaded word that – on the side of the likes of Abu Bakr Bashir and Osama bin Laden, but the fact is he is. Not all Christians, thanks be to God, are of Master Allen’s persuasion of course; not all drink deep of the cruel judgmental narrow zeitgeist that commands too much power today. For the true spirit of Christmas in action, go to Family Acceptance, another and better America.

I reject a vision of God as a magnified Gerald Allen, and I further no longer believe God has done much in the book-publishing department, so I rate the Qur’an as a wholly human product from a specific historical moment and cultural background, but with much good in it, as I also rate the Bible. This opinion of course will have Master Allen’s God and Master Bashir’s Allah condemning me to the eternal barbecue, to which my response is that timeless American Huck Finn’s. Even so, I do find it encouraging when believers draw at least rational conclusions from their dubious premises, as the lads in the Salt Mine’s Islamic Students’ Society do in their latest newsletter. It is brave of them to have written this too. They at least are making a contribution to peace on earth and good will towards men, in their own way:

There is a dangerous escalation of violence that is taking place around the world that is disturbing to most people. In the fight against terrorism, Western Nations are directly attacking terrorist organisations that recruit suicide bombers. When such action is taken, it is important to understand who or what is your enemy. Suicide bombings can only be prevented by understanding its causes and also its motivations. What would motivate a person to lash out so violently? This is something that needs to be understood in order to treat the problem of suicide bombing.

Most suicide bombers that are heard about on T.V or radio are Islamic militants that are opposed to the idea of Western Nations intervening in their country’s affairs. This leads to the question: Does Islam in any way endorse or encourage such violence? Islam is strongly opposed to violence, and recommends peaceful ways of sorting conflicts. However, in the Qur’an it says: "And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you. But do not transgress limits. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors."

This statement may be seen by some people as a justification of violence in Islam. The statement is saying you may fight against those who fight you, but you must not start the fight, and also that God despises those who go too far. This statement, if misinterpreted can lead a person to form incorrect conclusions about Islam in regards to violence. If a person becomes involved in a fight with someone else, then the fight should be resolved peacefully, however this statement is not addressing such a situation (unless it was a situation of self-defense), it is targeted to conflicts on a much larger scale. For example: If a sovereign nation is invaded by another nation and has many of its citizens killed, then the only option left for the nation is military action. This would have been an act of self defense as is the case with Iraq and how certain Iraqis feel about the American occupation.

This statement is also saying that if Islam itself is in danger, then violence is permissible, however this is not a justification to go on crusades against other religions. Islam does not allow crusades which have purposes of destroying other religions. In the Qur’an Allah clearly outlines, “Let there be no compulsion in religion…” (2: 256)

More importantly, suicide is forbidden in Islam. The taking of life is only allowed by the way of justice; i.e. the death penalty for murder. In pre-Islamic Arabia, retaliation and mass murder was commonplace. If someone was killed, the victim’s tribe would retaliate against the murderer’s entire tribe. This practice is directly forbidden in the Qur’an. Following this statement of law, the Qur’an says, "After this, whoever exceeds the limits shall be in grave chastisement". No matter what wrong we perceive as being done against us, we may not lash out against an entire population of people. This is how Islam came to create peace and justice in the warring tribes of Arabia.

Discussion about suicide bombers leads back to the question of why do they do it in the first place. In the Palestinian territories, those who support suicide bombings claim that it is merely a tactic of war in defense of their land and homes. Living under siege, and without the superior weaponry of their opponent, they see it as a heroic act of martyrdom, not suicide. In their point of view, it is a final act of resistance, stemming from desperation. So with any such discussion usually between Muslims and Non-Muslims, empathy is required to understand how people feel. Often through having an acute state of mind about the affairs of the oppressed and the oppressor will lead to a better understanding. Hopefully, through discussion of this sort the ISSBH aims that stereotypes and myths are removed.

I don’t necessarily agree with all that, but it is encouraging nonetheless to see Muslim Australian teenagers writing and thinking in this way. And yes, they are very bright boys, let me tell you.

As for my dinner companion: I would much rather have spent last night with him than with Gerald Allen or any of his clones, including his influential mate. The world is the richer for my dinner companion’s ongoing wisdom and patent courage.

Peace to you all.

24 December 2004: Thanks to The Poet for drawing our attention to US Mistakes in Iraq: "In this weblog, a number of the major mistakes made by the US administration after the occupation of Iraq are briefly outlined. The issues involved are so complex that any brief presentation of these issues has to be over-simplistic. These mistakes not only led to the loss of ‘the hearts & minds’ of the Iraqi people but actually led to ‘gaining’ their animosity and resulted in considerable damage to Iraq and to America. A lot of innocent blood was unnecessarily spilled!" It is a "sidenote" on an Iraqi blog, A Glimpse of Iraq, where the latest entry is actually quite amusing.

Have a look too at Riverbend’s Christmas wish list on Baghdad Burning. Riverbend, Girl Blog from Iraq, is always worth visiting. Makes much more sense than Rumsfeld. But that isn’t difficult, is it?

Best wishes to all my readers: you could do worse than look at the latest Interlude meditation.

Oh yes: if you see a silver-grey Toyota Echo, make sure there is sufficient distance between your car and it, won’t you? 😉 Wonder how the twin rabbits went?

17 December 2004: Teeth still hurt 😦

Wonder how the Rabbitmobile is going?

16 December 2004: Started the day at The Mine, where I am again, having been to and from Bondi Junction by train for X-Ray, which the dentist now has. New appointment next week.

Interesting quote from the Salt Mine’s internal site: "Dr Andrew Refshauge, Minister for Education and Training, visited the school yesterday. He made a press statement about the performance of New South Wales students in an international study on performance in Mathematics and Science. Apparently New South Wales performed second only to Singapore in the study. Australia as a whole was further down the list. Other breaking news (unauthorised access to HSC results) meant that the statement did not receive any coverage in the news last night. There were some shots shown from here: glimpses from a Year 11 Physics class and questions relating to bullying and Clover Moore’s approval of an upbeat National Anthem. "

My latest Salt Mine blog may amuse you.

15 December 2004 – later: Bad news. I should have known, as a pretty good omen was that amid much sparks and smoke a power line fell down in Kippax Street right outside the dentist’s just as I arrived!

So, I have an abscess, it seems, but I think I knew that, and I must continue with the antibiotics and get a full mouth X-Ray in Bondi Junction. Then I will very likely lose two teeth. Eventually this will probably mean a partial denture. Other options are just two troublesome and expensive.

I feel God made a mistake in the dentition department….

"Left alone, abscesses can become quite serious. In the days before antibiotics and modern surgery, dental abscess was a common cause of death…"

"If you thought that dentists have only been inflicting pain recently, think again. New research has just shown that prehistoric dentists may have been using stone drills to treat tooth decay up to 9,000 years ago. Excavations at a site in Pakistan have unearthed skulls containing teeth dotted with tiny, perfectly round holes. Under an electron microscope, archeologists found a pattern of concentric grooves that were almost certainly formed by the circular motion of a drill with a stone bit. The scientists from the University of Missouri-Columbian suggest that such findings point to a stone-age knowledge of health and cavities and medicine. The holes, when drilled, would then probably have been filled with some sort of medicinal herb to treat tooth decay, something that has long since disappeared…"

15 December 2004: The good news first: my tooth problem (or rather teeth problems) calmed down during the day so that I was able to enjoy Yum Cha, including mango pudding, with M and a gathering of friends at the Golden Harbour. It is noticeable that having someone present who can request particular dishes in Mandarin does make a difference.

I then went to the Mine where I did a bit of work, after which there were farewell drinks at Fox Studios for Jenni, the Head Teacher Welfare, my immediate boss, and for a member of the Science Department. I had just one light beer.

The bad news: the teeth acted up overnight and I face the dentist later on today 😦

14 December 2004: I am told the Flower Power Christmas do may even rival Saatchi and Saatchi — well, those words were not used, but I do look forward to hearing how it goes.

Here are some timely words; may timely deeds follow:

We are all children of the same providence on a journey to the same destiny. Therefore, within the scope of humankind, there is a place for everyone. The things that make us different from one another can be regarded as assets that can be pooled in order to achieve a common purpose. This idea of variety within a unity is especially meaningful to us Indonesians, who live by our national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika "We are many, but we are one".

That was Indonesia’s new leader Susilo Bambang Yudhuyono at the International Dialogue on Interfaith Co-operation in Jogjakarta a little over a week ago. There is also some disturbing stuff on that transcript, if you care to look: a survey of Indonesian opinion, said to be reliable, found "that only 60% of those surveyed disagreed with that type of [terrorist] campaign explicitly, and what that left was 16% actually supported the bombing campaigns, and another 25% wouldn’t explicitly disagree."

13 December 2004: On ABC Local Radio last night it was comforting to hear William Storrar, Professor, Christian Ethics and Practical Theology, University of Edinburgh, arguing a case that is dear to my own heart. I hope they put up a transcript. Essentially he was saying that our current crop of right-wing neocon free marketeers have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, and we should be more assertive about the principles behind the welfare state, for example, which he says was not after all a failure. Good to see a Presbyterian argument on this.

He was not being sentimental about the Left either; indeed anyone who wishes to be misty-eyed about the old Marxist left would do well to contemplate Martin Amis’s well-researched diatribe Koba the Dread. (Neil Ascherson struggles to rescue something from the obscenity that was Stalin in his Guardian review, but is really pushing shit uphill I feel.)

Or look at the amazing poisoning of the Ukraine opposition leader, a throwback if ever there was. (I can see Robert Mugabe already looking into the possibilities of dioxin; Leninist starvation tactics he seems to have mastered already.)

At the same time, what price the creatures on our own side? Since Mohamed El Baradei is not proving compliant enough for Washington, inconveniently telling the truth perhaps as Hans Blix did, "the US is tapping the phone of Mohamed El Baradei, hoping to gather information that would help Washington remove him as head of the UN nuclear watchdog, and hasten an all-out effort to force Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions." They even thought up the brilliant idea of replacing the inconvenient Dr El Baradei with a proven lickspittle, our very own Alexander Downer, who would no doubt find whatever he was told to find. At the moment Alex is proving coy.

And that brings us to the David Hicks Affidavit published last week: the link leads to the full text of the affidavit lodged by Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks asserting that he has been tortured during his detention. There is an excellent documentary THE PRESIDENT VERSUS DAVID HICKS by Australian director Curtis Levy, and a site Fair Go for David Hicks. You can read the amazingly biased ramblings of a right-wing US blogger with an excessive trust in his own government on the subject of Hicks, if you care to. One representative of that bastion of democracy opines: "There is a lesson here for the soldier. Prisoners eat, shit and take up more time than they are worth." Nice.

The point of course is not what Hicks may or may not have done, which remains to be proven. What does matter is how the USA has adopted so much from the totalitarian handbook in their pursuit of people like Hicks that one wonders what the outcome of the War on Terror will ultimately be. Quite a few Americans worry about that too.

Been a while since I have had a political rant, isn’t it? Since the last election, and confronted with a self-destructing Labor Party, I have been too depressed to bother…

And the teeth. I see the dentist on Wednesday but got some antibiotics from Dr Banquo today, who amused me with a little rant on creationism. Apparently there is a Christian channel on pay TV and Dr Banquo religiously (?) watches a program on animals. Oh my God, look at what you might watch 24/7! The program Dr Banquo refers to seems to be this one. Dr Banquo says it is the funniest show on TV!

  • Quite a few typos today: I wish Diary-X had a facility for previewing before posting…

    12 December 2004: Sharan Newman’s, The Real History Behind ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (Penguin 2004) really is honest, learned, user-friendly and entertaining in its own right, but sadly it is also the worst example of proof-reading I have ever seen. Here is just one example, and the text has far too many of these: "The story as put Gorth in Holy Blood, Holy Grail has it that Godefroi established the Priory to protect his bloodline…" This is not Sharan Newman’s fault; obviously the publishers omitted an intermediate step or two in order to flood the bookshops before Christmas. A shame: as I say, it is a very good book.

    spamtmpl Has anyone else been getting Holy Spam? Let me quote: 

    Hello Shellyjohnston,

    If you die tonight where will you go ?

    God is the most important thing in life.

    Without God we have nothing.

    Save yourself and the ones you love:

    Say, "Oh God, save my soul. I’m so sorry that I have sinned against you, but I have come home. I will serve you, Lord, the rest of my life. Deliver me from all my sinful habits. Set me free! I do believe Jesus died on Calvary for me, and I believe in His blood, that there is power in His blood to wash away all my sins, all my sins!" Say, "Come into my heart, Jesus; come on in, Jesus. Come on in!"

    If you meant it, He has come. If you meant it, Jesus is yours. Start reading your Bible, pray daily and believe that somebody’s listening; His name is Jesus.

    Send it back to perhaps? See also, for a wry laugh, Holy Spam, Batman. Still, the following Christian has his heart in the right place, and he says it all really, even if there is a typo: "…some Christians seem to think that because they’re doing God’s work, that it is okay. That they can disobey the printed and conspicious terms of use by their own hosting companies. Or worse, ignore outright the terms of use and/or desires stated on a church website such as Redland’s. Folks, as Chrisitians, not only are we NOT above the law, but are called to live by a higher standard. It is for this reason, I am imploring my Christian brothers and sisters to stop marketing via unsolicited commercial email. Not only is it ineffective and amateurish, it is illegal, unethical and abusive."

    Very true, Dean Peters. What’s more, if ever I had a drag name it wouldn’t be Shelly Johnston!

    The pic above comes from The Holy Temple of Spam.


    Lord Malcolm’s Christmas Picnic in the beautiful Sydney Botanical Gardens went well. I even spoke to the Empress and he even replied. Sirdan was missing, rumoured to be in Newcastle. Me – I have come home early with a hideous toothache (began yesterday) and a possible thunder and hail storm threatens outside, so I’m off now…

    Must contact the bloody dentist tomorrow.


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    Posted by on December 20, 2009 in blogging, decade



    While we all wait here in Oz to see how the Liberal Party’s three ring circus pans out – see entry above – I thought I’d mention a story I caught on BBC World Service last night. I went straight to the relevant site this morning.

    Washington, DC – President Barack Obama and Ethel Kennedy presented Magodonga Mahlangu and her organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), with the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award this evening at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award annually honors courageous and innovative human rights defenders throughout the world who stand up against injustice, often at great personal risk.

    “By her example, Magodonga has shown the women of WOZA and the people of Zimbabwe that they can undermine their oppressors’ power with their own power — that they can sap a dictator’s strength with their own. Her courage has inspired others to summon theirs. And the organization’s name, WOZA — which means “come forward” — has become its impact — its impact has been even more as people know of the violence that they face, and more people have come forward to join them,” said President Obama.

    The event, sponsored by the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), also included remarks by Kerry Kennedy and a tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, an RFK Center founding board member from 1968-2009. RFK Board Chair and former Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Phil Johnston, introduced the President. Over 200 guests including First Lady Michelle Obama, Administration officials, Members of Congress and the Washington diplomatic community attended.

    WOZA is a grassroots movement working to empower women from all walks of life to mobilize and take non-violent action against injustice. WOZA helps its members to stand up for human rights and speak up about the worsening economic, social and political conditions in Zimbabwe at great personal risk. Since its founding in December 2002, WOZA has staged hundreds of peaceful marches in support of democratic reform and women’s empowerment. The Government of Zimbabwe has jailed Ms. Mahlangu along with WOZA founder Jenni Williams over 30 times and thousands of WOZA members have spent time in police custody.

    “Arrests do not deter us because WOZA has empowered us to believe that we deserve better. We deserve to have a roof over our head, food in our stomachs, our children in schools and the nation working”, said Ms. Mahlangu. “We deserve to live in dignity and free from fear; and it is our right to have our voices heard and respected. That is why I joined WOZA. While Mugabe boasts of having degrees in violence, I and 75,000 WOZA members who stand beside me, have degrees in non-violence.”

    “We are not fighting a revolution in Zimbabwe, we are leading an evolution. And civic education is our tool to evolve the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans to build a strong, new, African democracy where respect, tolerance and accountability are key”, said Jenni Williams, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

    Williams added, “Mr. President you know how invaluable community mobilizing can be. We have learnt that knocking on doors, talking with and listening to people is the way we can rebuild our nation. We call on you, to support community mobilizers who are organized to empower Zimbabweans to deliver change from the ground up.”…

    For more inspiration go to BBC and read about the writer Petina Gappah.

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    Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Africa, amazing, human rights, humanity, inspiration


    What scored in the past week

    So Saturday stats again! These are the posts most visited individually, according to WordPress, in the past seven days. (Updated Saturday 10am.)

    Floating Life – 5,200 views so far this month

    1. Australian poem: 2008 series #9 — "The Angel’s Kiss"  137 views – 4,462 since March 2008
    2. How good is your English? Test and Answers 56
    3. Dispatches from another America 50
    4. The Great Surry Hills Book Clearance of 2005 48
    5. Surry Hills: coming up on the photoblog 29
    6. And how about that Mugabe…? 24
    7. Australian poem 2008 series #10: Peter S 21
    8. Kevin Rudd as art critic 19
    9. Delia Malchert – Migraine Aura – Scintillating Scotoma 19
    10. Australian poem 2008 series #17: "Australia" by A D Hope 17
    11. My blog picks on the Obama Inauguration 16
    12. Quote(s) of the week 3 2009 – and more 14
    13. Here’s another “100 best novels of all time" post 13
    14. This post has no title 12
    15. Maxthon Browser – Full-Featured Browser 12

    Floating Life Apr 06 ~ Nov 07 – 1,867 views so far this month

    1. John Howard: bullying expert extraordinaire 38
    2. Ian McKellen and Judi Dench in Macbeth and segue to Mardi Gras 31
    3. Assimilation, Integration, Multiculturalism 1 25
    4. Book and DVD backlog 21
    5. Friday Australian poem #3: A D Hope, 18
    6. Friday Australian poem #17: Bruce Dawe, 18
    7. New blog report and more 17
    8. Late Anzac Day thoughts 16
    9. There are at least two movies called Swimming Upstream 15
    10. Colin Thiele dies 12

    Neil’s Modest Photo Blog – 1,116 views so far this month

    1. Surry Hills light and texture yet again 2  21
    2. Passing parade Surry Hills Sunday 18 January 2 10
    3. Loving Surry Hills 1: Foveaux Street 5
    4. Hot again in Prince Alfred Park 1 5
    5. From the high rise: Kensington NSW 5
    6. Surry Hills: more light and texture 4
    7. Workers on former Chinese Consulate, Surry Hills 4
    8. Moore Park minimalism: 19 January 4
    9. East Redfern again 15: more views from the high rise 4 — Kensington 3
    10. Surry Hills light and texture yet again 1  3

    18jan 007

    The most visited pic this week.

    Ninglun’s Specials and Memory Hole – 1,215 views so far this month

    1. Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields 31
    2. 10. But is it art? Responses to the Bill Henson controversy 25
    3. Sequel: Art Monthly Australia July 2008 22
    4. Gustave Dore’s "Ancient Mariner" illustrations 19
    5. DSL collection – Chinese Contemporary Art 18
    6. Top poems 5: Thomas Hardy 1840-1928 – "The Oxen" 13
    7. 05 — Old Blog Entries: 99-04 11
    8. Top poems 2: John Donne (1572-1631): Satire iii 11
    9. Surry Hills 90: Bourke Street and The Beresford 9
    10. About the Whitfields: Wandering Willie’s tales 8

    English/ESL – 5,682 views so far this month

    1. How should I write up a Science experiment? 188
    2. Studying the Gothic, or Emily Bronte? 155
    3. Belonging pages: HSC 2009-2012 110
    4. HSC English NSW Area Study Standard and Advanced Belonging 1  102
    5. Mary Shelley, "Frankenstein" — and "Blade Runner" 82
    6. The "Belonging" Essay 81
    7. Physical journeys and Peter Skrzynecki’s poems 56
    8. Backgrounding my essay: question and resources to be used 47
    9. How can I improve my essay grades… without learning essays off by heart? 44
    10. Workshop 01 — a theme unit in four different text types 43
    11. Workshop 09: Advanced English Module B "Critical Study of a Text" 28
    12. NSW Module A English HSC Advanced: on not seeing the wood for the trees 26
    13. How can I write faster in exams? 25
    14. From my personal site: The Secret River 24
    15. Good question: are fractions and decimals singular or plural? 23

    There won’t be a Saturday stats next week as the end of the month is coming up.

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    Posted by on January 24, 2009 in site stats


    Quick Saturday stats

    Shortly I will go stats crazy as both the end of the month and the end of the year are coming up. Today I will post the top individually visited posts in the past seven days for each of the three main Floating Life blogs.


    1. Australian poem: 2008 series #9 — 115
    2. How good is your English? Test and Answers 40
    3. Dispatches from another America 37
    4. The Great Surry Hills Book Clearance of 2005  35
    5. Beijing agrees to Tibet talks 33
    6. To Sirdan’s new flat… 28
    7. From left field, off the wall, and similar Christmas musings 2 24
    8. 2008 in review 18: best pics? 23
    9. And how about that Mugabe…? 18
    10. Christmas drought 16

    Photo blog

    1. Darling Harbour video 15
    2. 2008 in order 13
    3. Loving Surry Hills 25: contrast 11
    4. Views from Rosebery 4: south-west 10
    5. 2008 in review: best pics? 10
    6. Loving Surry Hills 18: colourful 5
    7. Links 5
    8. Views from Rosebery 1: towards the airport 4
    9. First 3
    10. Views from Rosebery 5: framed 3

    Because each post is just one photo, people tend to read this blog without visiting individual posts. That’s my guess anyway. General views have been: Dec 20 231; Dec 21 44; Dec 22 60; Dec 23 48; Dec 24 55; Dec 25 29; Dec 26 105.

    Ninglun’s Specials

    1. Sequel: Art Monthly Australia July 2008 22
    2. Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields 19
    3. 05 — Old Blog Entries: 99-04 16
    4. DSL collection – Chinese Contemporary Art 14
    5. 10. But is it art? Responses to the Bill Henson controversy of 2008 14
    6. Family stories 4 — A Guringai Family Story 8
    7. Shire childhood, adolescence and early adulthood 8
    8. An old picture… 7
    9. About the Whitfields: family pics for my brother 5
    10. Closely watched planes 6: flying boats 5

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    Posted by on December 27, 2008 in blogging, site news, site stats


    2008 in review 15: what did I post about in June 2008?

    June? What happened in June? Do you remember? I don’t… 😉

    Ninglun’s Specials

    Just four entries. 2 June: Redfern visions 4. 10 June: Revolutionary new experiences in The Shire 1967 to 1968 – such as Earl Grey Tea! 20 June: Islam medley – art and architecture. 24 June: Smart art — Australian artist Jeffrey Smart.

    Floating Life

    I notice I declared a break on 30 June! Didn’t last long…

    1 June: Just to reassure you all — “Mathematical proof that ninglun is not the Antichrist!” 2 June: Yeah, right… – on the Henson affair; Cyber condoms again; Maralyn Parker at Mascot Public School; Last night on ABC1 — Wild China: Tibet. 3 June: When it comes to apocalyptic texts, exercise restraint…; Test your blog in different browsers. 4 June: Some of life’s little ironies — well, not so little…; And how about that Mugabe…? — “Oh my God, when will Africa’s most recently unelected “leader” die of old age, retire, disappear, self-destruct, or become the victim of a well-deserved assassination?”; Thomas (and Obama) has won!. 5 June: Far more sensible than many people think — “I have been reading James Lovelock.” 6 June: Christianity’s coats of many colours; Lightening up. 7 June: Quick footnote on Sojourners — and meet a blog. 8 June: Interesting on India, and on left politics generally — Martha Nussbaum; Always remember your readers are human, so are other bloggers, and so are you….

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    Posted by on December 18, 2008 in 2008 in review, blogging


    2008 in review 13: what did I post about in August 2008?

    Much less exciting than September, even if one post* there led to that excitement and another** broke records!

    Ninglun’s Specials

    2 August: Michael Riley: sights unseen. 8 August: DSL collection – Chinese Contemporary Art. 9 August: Personal Reflections: Saturday Morning Musings – the art of Jiawei Shen. 17 August: Top poems 2: John Donne (1572-1631): Satire III — "Of Religion".

    Floating Life

    1 August: Money and Trees – the green stuff | Q&A | ABC TV; Kevin Rudd’s convict past; China relaxes internet bans for journos – 2008 Beijing Olympic Games – ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). 2 August: My webbit died… – the new one is in rude health…; Message Stick – Sights Unseen – Pictures By Michael Riley. 3 August: “Say No to No Comment: How to Answer Negative Blog Posts”; Think space + entertainment + slightly adult content – Margaret Cho on gay marriage.

    4 August: Sunday lunch, Sirdan, Artist Andy; Unleashed: New global warming science? 5 August: Personal Reflections: Andrew Forrest’s 50,000 indigenous jobs; Boston Review — Days of Lies and Roses: Selling out Afghanistan — Sarah Chayes; God’s Politics – Jim Wallis on Kevin Rudd. 6 August: Levelling with China | The Monthly | Linda Jaivan; Music interlude for Sirdan’s birthday; The 7.30 Report | ABC | The Man from OECD. 7 August: Sense, nonsense, speculation and invective; The Making of the Mahatma (1996); 06 — Blogging Sydney’s Olympic Year 2000 « Ninglun’s Specials. 8 August: Wal-Mart Watch; There’s a lot you might say about China… 9 August: 2.15 in the morning in Surry Hills… – Olympic Games Opening; Confucius says: let the Games begin | The Australian; Lakes crisis deepens | The Australian. 10 August: Tune for a peaceful night; Insights – Uniting Church magazine online — August editorial.

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    Posted by on December 16, 2008 in 2008 in review, blogging


    2008 in review 9: what did I post about in March 2008?

    The month finished with Milestone! Visit #200,000. That refers to all the Floating Life blogs covered by Sitemeter. As I start this post the figure is 295,505.

    Floating Life

    Mardi Gras week-end kicked off this month: For Mardi Gras: a recycle and Seen heading for Mardi Gras. On Saturday I also posted The Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, while Sunday brought The only gay in the village….

    “I guess it is a good thing when one’s prejudices get worked over and one is left feeling a bit of a fraud. That is one effect watching Compass last night had on me…” So I wrote on 3 March: Humbled, followed by Spiritual predator and Too awful even to name about Israel/Palestine. John Howard has just been elected… on 4 March refers to my reaching 1996 in my reading of Frank Welsh’s Great Southern Land, and How good is your English? that day has become a very popular post. Young film-maker is about SBHS ex-student Rory Pearson, while on 5 March I also wrote English/ESL honoured. “Go to Creating a Community of Writers Using Technology and you will find details of a March 7, 2008 Conference in Grand Rapids, MI.” My English/ESL site was an “exhibit” there. Islam is the theme of the first 6 March entry Some interesting thoughts from people I tend to ignore…; On keeping an open mind on Indigenous Australia policy followed. On 7 March DVDs on a stormy night is a review post, while This just intrigued me on 8 March is about US politics. Chinese Whisper now does Yum Cha was a Sunday lunch post.

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    Posted by on December 13, 2008 in 2008 in review, blogging


    Cholera? What cholera?

    Crazy quote of the year?

    President Robert Mugabe has declared that the crisis is over and that there is no cholera in Zimbabwe.

    "I am happy we are being assisted by others and we have arrested cholera," Mr Mugabe said in a speech in which he also attacked what he described as Western plans to invade Zimbabwe and topple his government.

    "Now that there is no cholera there is no case for war."

    ABC News Australia


    See There is nothing for Zimbabweans to celebrate on Human Rights Day.

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    Posted by on December 12, 2008 in Africa, health, human rights, humanity


    Why I just cannot take the hard Left seriously….

    …or the hard Right either, I hasten to add. If the history of the 20th century has taught us one thing it is that radical solutions, in the main, have sucked big time, produced most of the mind-boggling suffering that century was famous for, generally have led to unintended consequences of monumental proportions, and/or have collapsed ignominiously in the end. Much the same applies, or will apply, to the false hope some apparently see in hard Islamism – not a majority Muslim position yet despite so many Islamophobes doing their best to bring that about. (Another example of unintended consequences?)

    And yes, this is a rant.

    Take Zimbabwe. Yes, the foundation of Rhodesia is not all that distant in the past, certainly for old people, as it was in just 1923 that Rhodesia was annexed by Great Britain, having been under Cecil Rhodes’s British South Africa Company from 1888. According to Wikipedia, the peak of white population was 296,000 in 1975, and today is less than 1% of a population impossible to guess accurately, but generally given as around 11 million. At least half a million Zimbabweans are in South Africa, the Congo, and other neighbouring countries. There is no doubt that most of that hundred years and more of history has been a tale of an unsustainable venture (except by repression of one kind or another) playing out as a tragedy for all those caught up in it. One can well understand that the situation well described here would generate problems:

    Starting in 1893, successive uprisings were bloodily suppressed by the colonizers and the British government. A particularly virulent strain of apartheid was introduced. By 1914, notes Steve Lawton in "British Colonialism, Zimbabwe’s Land Reform and Settler Resistance", 3 percent of the population controlled 75 percent of the land. The blacks were "harshly restricted to a mere 23 per cent of the worst land in designated Reserves. There were only 28,000 white settlers to nearly one million Africans in Zimbabwe at this time."

    Land ownership hasn’t changed much since. The 1930 "Land Apportionment Act" perpetuated the glaring inequality. At independence, according to "Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Revolution" edited by Mandivamba Rukuni and Carl Eicher and published in 1994 by the University of Zimbabwe Publications, 6000 white commercial farms occupied 45 percent of all agricultural land – compared to only 5 percent tilled by 8500 black farmers. Another 70,000 black families futilely cultivated the infertile remaining half of the soil.

    As black population exploded, poverty and repression combined to give rise to anti-white guerilla movements. The rest is history.

    So on the face of it Mugabe may be seen to have a case. Our Sydney Communist Party (rump of a Party that dissolved itself some twenty years ago) newspaper The Guardian remain true believers in that case, for example in 2007 citing People’s Weekly World.

    Dire economic conditions have caused this remarkable reversal of fortune for the party synonymous with Zimbabwe’s liberation from colonial rule. Food and fuel are scarce, inflation tops a mind-boggling 100,000 percent, and tens of thousands of Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa and beyond.

    Blame for Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown over the past decade or so varies depending on political orientation. While the MDC and its western sponsors blame Mugabe, whom they portray as dictatorial, murderous and racist, supporters of the ZANU-PF government and many Africans across the continent charge former colonial power United Kingdom and its allies with crippling the country economically through sanctions.

    It is no secret Mugabe has consistently challenged the agenda of capitalists in southern Africa from his days as a guerrilla leader fighting colonial rule to his more recent calls for pan-African unity against US attempts to impose genetically modified crops on communities needing food assistance. Mugabe’s backers believe the West has been pursuing a vendetta against him for decades.

    Over the past few days the corporate media has uncritically repeated opposition claims that the government is planning a "bloodbath" and employed racist propaganda that "gangs" of Mugabe’s loyalists were "invading" white-owned farms. In its blind support for the opposition, the West fails to condemn irresponsible, charged comments like the MDC’s assertion that a runoff would lead Zimbabweans "to the slaughter."

    Missing in all the so-called analysis is basic historical context. Before winning independence in 1980, Zimbabweans endured over a century of violent white-minority rule in the British colony known as Rhodesia. The most fertile land was stolen from African families and awarded to British colonists who held exclusive political and economic power. Liberation was achieved only through many years of military struggle led by ZANU-PF, supported by the Soviet Union and its allies.

    Which is all very well, I suppose – so long as you remain oblivious to the fact that what was once the most promising country in Sub-Saharan Africa is now a total basket case with starvation threatening, and cholera, not to mention the HIV situation. And through it all Mugabe continues on being “Right”… How tragic uncompromising rightness – and I don’t mean “right” as in politics- can be! The determined and certain can create hell on earth without batting an eyelid, and this has happened time and time again on all sides of the political and religious spectra throughout our lifetimes, from Israel (both sides!) to Afghanistan, from China to Nazi Germany, from the former USSR to – well you name it…

    Being “right” about unrestrained capitalism or free markets hasn’t proved much more encouraging either. God, we need a world of relativistic pragmatism, a world where absolutes of all kinds are treated with the suspicion they deserve! From Robespierre to today True Believers have been the death of us.

    Back in Zimbabwe: check this for a ring of truth. I find these entries loud and clear:

    • I was quoted $2,568,000,000,000,000,000.00 for a spare part this morning. Can you imagine nipping into Tesco or Walmart and being presented with a bill to that value? It’s mind boggling.
    • So the jokes are set to resume again at a date to be announced this week in South Africa. The talks, now called jokes in street lingo, come at a time when the country is in a deeper mess and deepening by the day. An estimated number of more than 200 people have lost their lives due to a deadly cholera epidemic that is set to worsen as the rains continue to fall mercilessly on a country in distress.

      It should be highlighted that most of Harare’s high density suburbs don’t have clean running water and are plagued with burst sewer pipes. I have had the opportunity of driving through these populated urban settlements from Mabvuku, Tafara , Warren Park, Budiriro, Sunningdale, Mufakose, Chitungwiza, Seke and Mbare to mention a few and the likelihood of cholera spreading to these areas and killing more people is indeed very real as service delivery is very much non existent.

    Meanwhile, I note The Guardian continues to serve up its comforting pap on other matters to its true believers:

    Kind of a reverse Murdoch or Fox News, and not always wrong… But it so reminds me of fundamentalism… We KNOW; the herd DON’T… All very 50s…


    Posted by on November 27, 2008 in Africa, Australia, current affairs


    Unleashed: Leaving home — on South Africa today and those who wish to leave…

    I am blogging Unleashed: Leaving home by Johann Rossouw, a South African philosopher based in Pretoria, and its accompanying thread, which I urge you to read too, without adding my own two cents worth, except to say I am interested, having heard much through Sirdan and from other sources, and casting my mind back to a time when I worked with many South African Jews. I think it is sadly only too true that Thabo Mbeki in an infamous speech in 1999 wiped Nelson Mandela’s “rainbow nation” off the table; while there are still those carrying that torch forward, such as Desmond Tutu, the path of South Africa since 1999 goes a long way towards explaining the softness shown to Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

    portrait_naiker South Africa’s Complex Challenges (by Seth Naicker) from the God’s Politics Blog is also worth looking at. That’s him on the right, still carrying the torch.

    People are feeling the pinch of living in a South Africa where democracy has seemingly celebrated a capitalistic culture that does very little for a large population of impoverished people in this developing country. Within an environment where democracy is in need of a social consciousness, reform is needed for the large majority of people who have been denied their rights to basic needs of education, housing, water, etc.

    There are several more complexities that South Africa is dealing with, related to a failing democracy and a government that is losing sight of the vision for which it was elected. The complexities of corruption, fraud, arms deals, the Zimbabwe crisis, unemployment, HIV/AIDS, violence and crime, children living on the streets, extreme poverty, etc., are those foremost in my mind and in discussions I have been having with people working in development, child and youth care, corporations, churches, and mosques.

    People are facing outrageous hikes in costs on their home loans, where monthly repayments have doubled in just two months. Prices of meat and vegetables, oil, rice, and maize meal have escalated so that a low-income family cannot afford to even purchase toilet paper and bathing soap.

    However, among all the chaos of my current-day South Africa, there remains a mystical faith that propels people in the most adverse circumstances to look forward to a brighter day. I have found it most difficult at times to understand how people in such dire straits could still have the audacity to hope and have faith that things will work out right. That mystical faith, with which I have come into contact in the land of my dreams, encourages me, challenges me, and changes me. It further centers, conscientizes, and mobilizes me to continue believing, striving, pursuing, and demanding transformation that will ensure a South Africa that is caring for all its people: citizen, immigrant, and refugee.

    Very much a Christian is Seth, of course…

    On the broad issue of which South Africa is a part, and indeed of which Australia is a part, my slow ongoing reading of David Day’s important history Conquest is reshaping my views. I do commend it to you all. Day does not come at the issue from a religious viewpoint, and the review I have linked there is rather unfriendly — it appeared in the NY Sun — and its sticking point is this:

    One also need not be a supporter of Israel to sense that Mr. Day’s discussion of its history is offered up in an exclusively negative context. From Mr. Day’s account, no one would imagine that the Jews had a connection with Palestine in some form or another for some 5,000 years, that early Jewish settlers often bought rather than stole Arab properties, and that Israel fought numerous existential wars against autocratic neighbors that sought to liquidate Israeli democracy and with it all traces of Jews in the Middle East. The 1 million Arabs who vote and participate in contemporary Israeli politics — uniquely so in the otherwise autocratic Arab Middle East — surely enjoy a much different status from the Untermenschen who were slaughtered en masse by Hitler’s Wehrmacht. There is also something jarring in reading about the plight of the Aborigines, Palestinians, and Native Americans juxtaposed with similarly brief accounts of Hitler’s Final Solution. Orders of magnitude, then, are of less importance to Mr. Day; thus the 4,000 lost along the Trail of Tears take their places alongside the million-plus butchered in Rwanda, apparently as proof of similar barbarism on the part of the supplanting society.

    I find this unfair to Day, and I’m afraid too that while I can be accused of having been in many ways a supporter of Israel myself, I, not unlike many Jews in fact, have to concede that the issues Day raises on Palestine and the State of Israel are real issues. The author of that review is really nailing his colours to the mast, I would have thought. Realising that there have been and are big moral and practical issues wrapped up in the reestablishment of a State of Israel does not make one an antisemite. Jews had a connection with Palestine in some form or another for some 5,000 years is true up to a point, but also extremely  tendentious. It certainly is no justification for much that has happened since 1967.

    But here of course we have one of the world’s thorniest issues, bedevilled at every turn by fundamentalists of many stripes, most of whose assumptions are historically suspect, even  nonsensical. You see, Abraham is, was, um, a legend — literally, not in the everyday sense. No doubt about it… Many aspects of that legend and its playing out through Judaism, then Christianity, then Islam, have been and continue to be inspiring, but many have been pernicious. The more literal the clinging to the legend, the more pernicious the heritage tends to be. It is a troubled heritage… You may as well base a national claim, or a theological claim, around Robin Hood. That’s the inconvenient truth of the matter, by which I have now offended many people in the three major Book religions…

    Back to David Day…

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    Posted by on August 13, 2008 in Africa, awful warnings, Bible, challenge, Christianity, fundamentalism and extremism, History, humanity, Islam, Israel, Middle East, Postcolonial