This is the email I sent out yesterday:
I WAS BANNED ON BLACK WEDNESDAY
Today, I awoke to find out that I had been banned by Politicsweb.
Being banned on “Black Wednesday” is more than a little ironic. The centre-right political site, which carries commentary from political parties and commentators, but more often than not, right-wing screeds from the likes of RW Johnson, who once referred to black persons as ‘baboons and monkeys’ on the London Review of Books Blog, and who was subsequently labeled a racist by 73 prominent writers and academics, has banned me from participating in online discussion because of my views on #FeesMustFall.
The banning comes in the wake of comments posted under a piece by William Saunderson-Meyer, blaming the EFF for campus unrest.
Following a Cabinet decision, taken on 18 October 1977, the apartheid government, by proclamation under the Internal Security Act, “declared 19 organisations unlawful and apprehended around 70 leading Africans. A number of people were placed under restriction, including Donald Woods who was editor-in-chief at the Daily Dispatch. It also closed down the daily newspaper ‘The World’ and its associated ‘Weekend World’. The actions provoked worldwide shock and protest.”
It is an opportune moment to remember that journalists always run the risk of raising the ire of politicians everywhere and that the fourth estate is under serious threat from growing electronic surveillance, decreasing profitability, rapid changes in the public’s media habits (with the resulting loss of influence), and that South Africa has a unique history when it comes to press censorship.
As a simple banned person, one of hundreds of students banned en masse by the apartheid government during the student revolt of 1987, and who subsequently joined the armed struggle and its organs of struggle the anti-apartheid press, I believe that I have a unique position to comment on the student revolts of our time.
Given the justice system’s contempt for the TRC Act and the constitution, I believe the fallists are completely entitled to be engaging in acts of civil disobedience. Allowing apartheid denial to go unpunished and its perpetrators to escape justice, has resulted in the absurd situation where its victims are unable to seek redress. If some 6000 members of Khulumani are sitting without legal representation, and I myself do not possess an attorney at state expense in a TRC-related case, what hope is there for future acts of reconciliation and the next generation? The generation of today has an important message for the nation’s adults who have forgotten the teargas and rubber bullets of the past.
Insurrection against the apartheid government was always the modus operandi of the struggle press. It is titles such as South, New Nation and Grassroots which carried the banner of defiance and which alongside the Rand Daily Mail, Daily Dispatch and Weekend World need to be remembered and treasured. It is a crying shame that the press of today have turned into nothing more than sycophants of neoliberalism, and that Politicsweb, one of the few online spaces to not close down its comments section, has seen fit to ban me on Black Wednesday.
SPEAKING in front of the U.N. general assembly, 26 September 2012, U.S President Barack Obama called on world leaders to confront the forces of intolerance and extremism within their own countries and permit more freedom at home. The blatant deception in these remarks is so startling that when I heard it on the radio in my car; I had to dig out my sunglasses to avoid causing an accident.
Over the past two weeks U.S. embassies, predominantly in the Arab world, have been bombed or attacked in a somewhat knee-jerk reaction to the airing of a U.S. produced anti-Islamic film. Obama’s statement is a clear condemnation of the acts committed by terrorists who often obliterate the lives of the innocent in religious defiance of anything that is seen as a threat or menace to the Islamic world.
Condemnation rightfully so, yet there is something quite contradictory in the utterances by the leader of the “free world.” As the saying goes “all’s fair in love and war,” yet little over the better part of a decade has been fair in this much loved game of war.
Terrorism, especially in its 21st century U.S portrayal, takes the shape of fundamental extremism. As Communism ground to a halt, the American economy required a new source of capital flow. War, real or perceived, is vital for its economy to stay afloat.
Exceptional examples of American prosperity under war are littered throughout the annuals of time; none more so than U.S. involvement in the second world war. However, events that took place during the presidency of Ronald Reagan set the wheels in motion for the political trend that is evident today. During his tenure in office, Latin American countries became the new “promised land” for a large number of American based transnational companies. Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador at one point or another fell prey to the neoliberal doctrine practised so vociferously in the best interests of American prosperity. In the name of democracy, global peace and poverty alleviation the U.S. unleashed a terror similar to that of the Spanish conquistadors. Instead of blankets covered in smallpox, they received democracy in return for exploitation. So called evil empires, run by dictators that did not have the best interests of its nations population at heart needed to be removed.
When, in 2003, George W. Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, the intentions were not so clear. The logic behind the story goes, dislodge a disingenuous, tyrannical and populist movement and liberate the masses under the sacred banner of democracy. The actual intentions were three fold. One: money follows blood. The longer and more violent a war, the more arms manufacturers stand to benefit as does the economy. Two: oil. With vast, oil rich resources, anyone with the ability to manipulate Iraq’s oil supply – especially in an era when non renewable energy resources are on the decline – essentially develops or reaffirms global hegemony. Third and finally: an enlarged Middle Eastern sphere of influence. With Israel as it’s only ally in the region the U.S. has managed to distance Iranian influence from an increasingly nuclear Pakistan by strategically placing itself in Iraq. It also shields Israel from threatening, but often not unprovoked hostilities from Iran.
When Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th American president back in 2008, he did so off the back of an election campaign promising change. His perestroika of change went along the lines of promising to forbid companies in bankruptcy from giving executives bonuses, to enact windfall profits tax for oil companies, and, in consultation with the Iraqi government, to end the war safely and responsibly within 16 months of taking office, among a multitude of other promises. None of these so called promises of change have been enacted. In fact, since taking office, Obama picked up the baton where his republican predecessor George W. Bush left off. To quote from his address to the U.N, it makes sense that he has spent more money on the war in Iraq than Bush.
“Make no mistake: A nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained, it would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations and the stability of the global economy.”
When the U.S. invades nations under the guise of liberators, it is akin to the kind of atrocities committed by extremist Islamic sects, only the implications of such acts are more clandestine in nature. The 9/11 attacks claimed the lives of nearly 3000 people. The war in Iraq has claimed the lives of some 114 732 people, with this number still rising.
“People need to confront the forces of intolerance and extremism within their own countries and permit more freedom at home.”
If the U.S. was serious about this claim, it would be more tolerant of nations that do not, by general consensus, wish to live under U.S. imposed democracy. Some nations do not want to adopt free-market economic principles. These are not wrong choices, yet they differ from those that are championed by the “liberators” of the world and must therefore be tyrannical, despotic and deplorable.
For real change, change that the world can believe in, Obama should – by way of introspection, take his message to heart. As dangerous as a person with C4 explosives strapped to their body may be, so too is a nation famous for its veiled neo-colonial ambitions. Terrorism by another name is still as dangerous. Come willingly or there will be hell to pay!
Warren Gwilt is an independent political analyst and social activist based in Johannesburg. He has a BA Journalism degree from the University of Johannesburg.
WELL the honeymoon is definitely over – the ghost of PW Botha has come back to haunt us in the form of a super-presidency under Thabo Mbeki. Why should supermen flying around Africa be given extra powers if they already possess mandates from their people? If they keep crashing and burning on issues such as national soveriegnty, regional economic and political stability perhaps its because they never had a mandate to start off with?
How is it possible to create a Pan African Parliament that will eventually overide the laws of our own nation without at least a debate on the floor? How is it possible to find ourselves in the situation where, not only are we gagging newspapers about oil, but we’re actively supporting one world government and the Bush war in Iraq via our participation in the WTO? While corporate South Africa has been given a big “up yours” by the Laugh It Off judgement in the constitutional court, large corporate media and transnational corporations still fail to take heed of grassroots dissatisfaction with an economic system dependent upon coercion, a strong foreign military presence and punitive sanctions against the unemployed.
While Mbeki, the reformed capitalist, pumps rands into foreign trade deals that sell-out local labour and cleverly avoids facing up to the mounting casualities of his new economic policies, a growing tide of resentment against big government grows by the day. Despite attempts to nation-build, we are fragmenting into eleven language groups each with its own agenda as the former National Party burrows its way deep within our societal structures. Is it no wonder that the liberation movement has been outlawed and freedom fighters are now called terrorists? Is it no wonder that presidential spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe is proposing dictatorship from above instead of grassroots democracy from below?
Where other movements have failed, the anti-apartheid movement succeeded in creating a true people’s parliament and a bill of rights based upon the Freedom Charter. It is now up to our representatives to take these principles further by calling a referendum on the language issue before we forget what freedom means. As William Shakespeare once said, a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet, but pretty pointless if the children of tomorrow are born into a world without freedom of expression, without South Africa’s unique version of human rights and democracy.
copyright 2005, all rights reserved, reprint with permission.
To snip ones penis or not? Age of circumcision too low for boys?
How to keep politicians out of the bedroom and more!
THE Christian fundamentalist organisation, the ACDP have proposed that the age of consent should be raised to 21 across-the-board, to meet legislation in the pipeworks that would level the war between the sexes and the age to which one may legally consent to having sex without threat of state intervention. In other words, the threat of teenage sex amongst our nations youth needs to be countered by a backwards move into the stone age.
Not so says the ACDP who are encouraged by attempts to ban nicotine, as well as the raising of restrictions on under-age smoking from 16 to 18. Surely time to tell politicians to get out of the bedroom? No doubt, because the way the ANC’s quixotic moral regeneration programme is going, with its cowtowing efforts to mate the ACDP’s sex politics to its strange fraternisation with the former-National party, we could all end up having to wait until age 21 to have sex, and in the cases of initiation, new laws may proscribe exactly when and how men are circumcised.
In fact since circumcision and initiation schools are the death sentence for a few unfortunates, they should be banned altogether, or so the ACDP and its hill-billy logic goes. Should Government have a hand on everything including ones balls? Is it time to say, enough is enough — keep your hand off my crotch? Are we shedding foreskins so that the government can tell us what to do? Do we need laws to tell us how to make love?
That’s the trouble with equating democracy with the freedom to encompass and absorb all opposition, even if that opposition is diametrically opposed to core democratic principles like freedom of religion. Instead of merely tolerating far-right groups like the ACDP, the ANC continues to sway under attack from the Christian far-right and its naive proposals, like reintroducing the death penalty for teen-age sex. Soon, we could all be forced into one church, to go to the same Sunday School, to worship Jehovah in one Kraal? No circumcision before age 21?
Being a Jew of dubious ethnic orgin and therefore forcibly circumcised at 8 days old, I still don’t believe anybody should ever be forced to worship the god Jahweh with a blood sacrifice. In fact no man in his right frame of mind would ever consent to circumcision — its something that is done to mark the male species as different, (as if having a penis was’t enough of a leap of imagination as far as creation is concerned) with a wound similar to the way Zulu’s initiate boys into manhood along with a moral imperative to perpuate a particular culture, a unique way of life, a specific modality of thought rather than a majority rule lifestyle. In other words, too late to re-attach what was taken by the Beth Din, even though the ACDP think they can turn back the clock, restore my foreskin and forget about keeping kosher.
Which is why people who believe we can all be conditioned overnight into accepting one world view, one religion, along with a sexual drought like the Lovelife (wait for 2010 deflowering campaign), need to be bludgeoned by sermons from the mount, like the moral regeneration movements current mode of thought that says postponing sex until later in life is healthier than no sex at all. In fact just about the only sex one is likely to have these days is with a government official demonstrating how to reattach ones prepuce (the scientific name for your foreskin), which is what ACDP supporters deserve.