Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Things are not what they seem

In Africa, things are not what they seem. There was a widely published photo that I used in the last issue of Frog Hospital -- of an injured Zimbabwean baby. The baby's legs were broken by Mugabe's ZANU thugs -- so it was said, but it might not be true. It might be that the baby was having its club feet repaired -- nothing more than that.

And yet it is so easy to find credible accounts of torture in Zimbabwe, and I have seen many very gruesome photos. I picked the baby's photo because its cry was so poignant. So we know two things from this -- that life is very bad in Zimbabwe right now and that things are not what they seem.

Anything you think you know for certain might not be so.

THE HIGHER POWERS SANCTION ZIMBABWE. The world leaders, at the G-8 Summit, are considering economic sanctions against Zimbabwe. President George Bush is urging this proposal. Bush has wielded an effective policy toward Africa -- and I cite no less an authority than Senator Barack Obama.

I heard, with my own ears, at Obama's speech in Austin, Texas, on the day before the March primary, that George Bush had a good policy toward Africa.

Things are not what they seem. George Bush has been a very bad President, but he has been effective in African affairs.

It is good to remember that the United States was not a colonial power in Africa, and that African leaders have a much higher mistrust of European powers.

Nevertheless, African leaders are rejecting this interference by the G-8 powers --- "Stop interfering in our continent. Only give us the kind of help that we ask for."

It is the legacy of colonial rule and the history of slavery. Always remember, never forgive and never forget, that is the mantra, and I support that.

But shouldn't we reserve our anger for current abuses? Shouldn't we ask who is being harmed now?

BARACK OBAMA'S SUMMER. If Senator Barack Obama is no more than a mainstream Democrat with a bit of charisma, many people will be happy with just that. All signs point to a summer strategy of Obama saying, "I'm just like you."

He is addressing an unstated concern, "Yeah, but you don't look like the rest of us."

Indeed not. In fact, a rarely discussed by easily noticed fact is his hair. Barack Obama, if elected, will be the first President of the United States with hair that is not like mine.

Never mind skin color, I mean his hair. It is not straight and lanky and brown, like mine. It is black and short and tightly-coiled.

My hair blows in the wind. But Obama's hair is stiff and sculptural. Ask any barber. African-Americans shop in the same grocery stores, live in the same neighborhoods, go to the same churches and schools as the rest of us -- but they don't go to a white barber.

I'm not talking about the ladies' hair, which is on a wholly different level. I'm talking that black men go to black barbers because their hair is different. It is a natural difference.

A black man's hair is soft and woolly, or it might be springy and bristly, it all depends. The thing is that you can't touch it just to find out, unless you're about four years old. If you were a four-year old white child, and you had never met any black people, then when you did meet one for this first time, you could say, "Hey mister, how come your hair is like that? Can I touch it?"

But you're all grown up now, and you don't get to ask questions like that. Barack Obama knows that. That's why he's going around the country this summer, making very bland mainstream statements about politics. That's his outward agenda. But his real purpose is to let every one know that he's just like the rest of us, except for the hair.

FROG HOSPITAL READER SURVEY. The results of the reader survey were gratifying. Respondents endorsed the current mixed of topics. They said there was no need to focus on a single topic, but that my writing represented a coherent point of view which they found interesting. Thank you for the reinforcement. I will carry on.

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