torture


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It started with a simple set of questions… “Dad, what are people doing? Why don’t they want other people to marry? Why don’t they do anything about global warming? Why are they always fighting?”

How do I tell her? How. Do. I. Tell. Her?

1001, 1002, 1003, die… 1004, 1005, 1006, dead…

How do I tell her that every 3 seconds a child dies from something that we could’ve stopped? From hunger. From not enough food. From not having an apple. Or clean drinking water. Or just a little porridge in the morning. That we have it in our power to stop it if we want. But we choose not to. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that our friends can’t marry because some people just hate their love too much? That love is sometimes not enough. That caring for each other is not what everyone else thinks should be. That the insecurities of the heart and soul of others drive hate instead of seeing the love. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that some people talk freedom but don’t believe in it? That freedom is freedom even if we don’t like what others do or say. That freedom to marry. Freedom to love. Freedom to see the love of your life die in hospital. That these freedoms are killed by bigots every day. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her the pursuit of happiness is denied for most? That it’s a lie that we are told by so many who deny the happiness of others. That justice, equality and liberty is claimed by many but believed and practiced by few. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her people believe in carrying guns that kill but don’t believe in caring for love? That it’s okay to defend the right to carry a weapon of hatred in your holster but not love in your heart. That it’s okay to defend the right to carry that gun but not the right to love? How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that I don’t know what our earth will look like in her future? That maybe we are killing this world of ours with our greed and want. That wanting, buying, driving, wearing, making, living, eating too much and all those things we do might be killing our world slowly. So slowly that we argue while the pot is starting to boil. Like frogs we are killing ourselves slowly. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that most people don’t really believe in human rights? That they speak of it as if they care and are willing to fight for it and die for it. But that they will deny others those same human rights. Their right not to be tortured. Their right to marry. Their right to choose. Their right to believe and love who they want. They deny it all. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that people are willing to let their fellow Americans die. That they can stop it but they choose to look the other way and walk away? That a public option will save lives but some of us are too selfish and scared and would rather offer up American lives. American blood. All because they don’t care to care. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that so many men carry hate in their hearts. They rape. They kill. They take away. That these are men we see and know. But we don’t see and we don’t know. That it’s okay to love the world. But be careful with who you trust. They will hurt you if they can because we know of those who are dead and missing. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her to not trust the man who speaks of God because they use and abuse His name? That they will hate in His name. That they will lie in His name. That they will give Him different names and still be full of hate and lies. That the hate and lies is preached by bigots claiming every religion – Christian, Jew, Hindu, Muslim – you name it. That it’s okay to love God but to not trust those who speak in His name. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her that there are mad men in caves wanting to kill a dream? That there are enemies everywhere willing to take lives. Innocent lives. And that we live in so much fear that we are willing to do the same as them. We are willing to let innocent people die because of our own fears. That we play into the hand of the warmongers with our weakness of fear. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her all this and so much more? Racism. Discrimination. Child labor. Obesity. Diseases. Sexism. And all this stuff waiting out there in the world. How do I tell her?

How do I tell her all this? How do I tell her that if we all just wasted a little less. Wanted a little less. Cared a little more. Believed a little more. Loved a little more. Spoke out a little louder. Did a little more…

How do I tell her that I see the faces of those kids dying? I know their names in my dreams. That they are my kids. Our kids. Not a number. Her kids.

How do I tell her that I feel the love of my friends being denied? That I only feel threatened because they are being denied the right to love and live in love the way I do? They they are not gay. That they are me. They are her.

How do I tell her I believe in freedom? That it’s worth fighting for even when others are trying to kill it with their freedom-my-way-or-no-way lies and bigotry and double standards. That I fight for the rights for all because I fight for her rights.

How do I tell her I don’t believe in guns? That I hate guns. That guns have killed in my family. That I will still defend those who want the right to have a gun. But that I expect them to fight and defend the right of my friends to love just as hard. That those rights are all hers.

How do I tell her that I don’t know everything about global warming? That I don’t know the science that well. But that I know that it’s better to be safe than sorry. That I will fight for this planet because it is all we have. The only one we have. It’s all I can give her. This little planet in the middle of nowhere is her planet.

How do I tell her that human rights means we have to give it to everyone? To those who are like us. Who love like us. Who live like us. Who believe like us. And those who don’t believe like us. Don’t want to be us. That human rights means we take the higher road and don’t torture. That human right means we allow everyone to be treated the same way we are treated. In love and in marriage. And that I will speak out and fight for those rights. Every single day until we all have it. Because it is her rights.

How do I tell her I believe in justice, equality and liberty? That I believe it is fundamental to who we are and how we want to live. Even though other say it but don’t live it or truly believe it through action. That I will fight for her to have justice. That I will stand up for her to have equality. And I will defend her liberty. Because justice, equality and liberty are hers.

How do I tell her that I don’t want these Americans we live with to die? That I want them to live. I want to help look after them. I want them to have an option to get looked after when they are sick. And that the only option for them is a government option. That I have not option but support an option that will let Americans live. Because I believe that Americans are good. And that it is our duty to love them and respect them and help look after them. Because we are them. American health is her health.

How do I tell her not all men are bad? That there are good men out there. Men who love and care. Men we can trust. And that it’s worth trusting and finding the men we can believe in and trust. That we men will fight those who hurt. Because these are her men.

How do I tell her that God is good? That it is okay to believe and not be part of the lies told by those who claim Him – no matter what they call Him. That God is good and God is love. That I will fight for Him and claim Him back from those who use and abuse His name. Who lie and spread hate in His name. Because He is her God.

How do I tell her not to fear the mad man in the cave or anyone else who lives to hate? That fear is not what makes us who we are. That love makes us who we are. That the love we have is stronger than the hate of others. That love should never be seen as a weakness. Because I will fight for it. Because this love is her love. My love for her. My gift to her. Love.

How do I tell her that when I am alone in my thoughts… On the bus. Running. In a hotel. Flying. That I cry inside when I am alone. And sometimes I cry on the outside for all these strangers to see. Thinking of this. Knowing that I don’t know what we are doing. That I don’t know what we are leaving for her tomorrow. For her future. Her world. I just don’t know.

I don’t know what world she will inherit from us. I don’t know what world we will leave behind. For her. And for her kids.

But I do know that I will fight for what I believe in. I will fight for her rights. Her right to love, believe, be free, have no fear, carry a gun, marry who she wants. her right to be herself. My big angel. Because I love her. And it’s all I can give her.

I want to tell her that the world is full of good people. That every single day I work with people who make this world a little better. One step at a time. Sometimes small but always forward. I want to tell her we will fight the good fight. Every single day. There are more of us than what the world might think. And we are strong. And we will never give up.

I want to tell her I do what I do because of her. That I see her face when I work. I see her face when I fight for what is right. I see her face when I live my life. It drives me. I want to leave her a world to be proud of. I want to leave her a dad to be proud of.

But I don’t. I don’t tell her any of this…

I take her hand and we dance on a Saturday. I joke with her and I tickle her. I play with her and I tease her. I help her with her homework and I say I’m proud of her great work. I have fun with her and walk her to the bus stop. I hang out with her and watch Harry Potter with her. I lie watching music videos with her and write silly stuff to her on Facebook. Sometimes we talk about Madiba or God and space-time limitations. Or science and mathematics. Geography or food. Even a little bit of serious stuff like politics and rights. And then I talk to her about crazy silly things and give her my books to read. I pull her finger and burp as loud as I can. I go mess up her bed and chase her around. I just do the things a crazy silly stupid dad is meant to do. Because she is my girl. My oldest girl. My big angel. And I’m just her dad. That’s all I want to be. The cool guy who loves her more than life.

She is my Ubuntu. I am because we are.

So I don’t tell her. But I know. I know we have to fix this world to make it ready for her. She deserves nothing less. She is perfect. She needs a perfect world.

We’ve got work to do. My big angel is coming and I’ve got a world to clean and get ready…

I hope he is the "1"...

I hope he is the "1"...

“An unreleased Pentagon report provides new details concluding that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.

The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama’s plan to shut down the prison by January 2010.” (NY Times, 20 May 2009.)

Okay…

WTF? Huh? Are we stupid or what to fall for this one?

Let me just read this again…

1 in 7 returns to terrorism or military activity…

There are just SO much wrong with that statement and this whole load of bull.

Firstly, and a minor point, they did not “return” to terrorism or military activity. You can only use the word “return” if you actually found them guilty of either of those offenses in the first place. Come on. Don’t drink the Kool Aid. Report. You are journalists right? You call yourself a “proper” newspaper. And really, CIA, can we now officially remove the “intelligence” part?

Let’s say this again…

THEY CAN ONLY “RETURN” IF YOU FOUND THEM GUILTY IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Get with the program people. This is what we have been arguing about since Guantánamo Bay Torture Camp opened for business!

Secondly, and more importantly, this “1 in 7” little issue…

My question: What about the other 6?

The missing Guantánamo 6.

They did NOT return. Right? We can assume that from their “intelligence” report.

So…

6 people were stuck in a… hum… “detention centre” for nothing? Those are pretty bad odds if you ask me. 74 out of 534. Mmm… I am no mathematics boffin but that’s around 14% right? Let’s think a bout that for a minute…

I call it a failure. If my daughter came to me and say that she got 14% of her exam answers right…

Shhh… Hush… It. Is. A. Fail. Try again. Oops… You never wanted to “try” them…

So you held 6 “innocent” people in a torture camp, sorry I mean, “detention centre” so you could hold one guilty party. Now we say “innocent” and “guilty” because we don’t actually know. We’ll use the principle of innocent until proven guilty for a minute. I know it is a far out idea but hang in there for a minute.

Let’s use the 6-for-1 rule you just created. The one that says it is okay to hold 6 innocent people in jail/detention centre/torture camp if it means the 7th one might be guilty. Okay. Let’s use this method to get rid of criminals…

How about putting all high school boys in jail for life? Hey, 1 in 5 girls in school is physically or sexually abused by their partners. That will keep them safe right?

Or how about all men actually? Have you seen the rape/murder/abuse/etc rates in the US? At least 1 in every 7 men out there are bastards. Get rid of the lot I say.

Don’t sweat the little stuff like charging them or taking them to court or finding any evidence or any of that crap. Who needs it, right? Why the hell should you want to do that now?

You’ll stop the crime, right?

Stupid.

I don’t even know how to rant about this because it is so obviously ridiculous, pathetic and stupid. How the hell can this be something that supports keeping Guantánamo Bay open?

Thirdly, and almost important, note what they actually say the “1” did. They “returned to terrorism or military activity“. Huh? WTF? We’ve dealt with the “return” part but what is this “military activity” you are talking about? As I recall these people were never part of a military activity against the USA. Remember the reason why Guantánamo Bay was given the okay? The people there were very specifically NOT military opponents but rather enemy combatants. So they can’t really return to military activity because you told us they were never part of a military group/activity. Remember? Please get your story right…

We’re not that stupid. Sorry. I take that back. We have been that stupid. For a long, long time.

Lastly, and not so important either – lies, damn lies and statistics. You know that out of the 74 people they claim “returned” to terrorism or “military operations” they could only verify 29? Actually, “verify” is a bit of a strong statement here. Many of the 29 are simply described as associating with terrorists or training with terrorists, with almost no other details provided.

I rest my case…

Actually, we shouldn’t. We should be vigilant. These stupid guys ran the US name and reputation into the ground for over 8 years and they obviously won’t stop now. Don’t give them an inch of hope for more war mongering and playing on the fears of people. They should be history.

Let’s fight the real terrorists please. Like those bastards that just got caught in NY. Lets stay on the side of justice here. Let’s put them on trial. Let’s not give them reason to be the “1”. And let’s keep the Guantánamo 6 out of it. Let’s fight the real terrorists for a little okay?

The Guantánamo 6. Evidence of failed policies. Proof of the failure of justice. A picture of missing backbones and living in fear for too long.

No more. Not now. Not ever.

The voice from the “right”: “Less regulation! No! Wait… I mean, more regulation! Oops… Not that type though!”

No, this is not about economics or bailouts. Nothing as fundamental as that… Just another something that has been bugging me. (As if that is something new…) No, this is about the  argument “some” make that they are in favor of less regulations. Unfortunately, they lie. They love regulations. The more the merrier.

They talk a good talk. But they don’t walk a good walk. You see, they only want to regulate so that everything fits their behaviour model. “This is me and everybody damn well be like me”. They live bigotry. Why bigotry? Let’s first look at the definition of being a bigot and what bigotry means…

“A bigot is a person who is intolerant of opinions, lifestyles, or identities differing from his or her own, and bigotry is the corresponding state of mind. Bigot is often used as a pejorative term against a person who is obstinately devoted to prejudices even when these views are challenged or proven to be false or not universally applicable or acceptable.” Thank you Wikipedia…

It.. p… hum… you know… me off. Let’s just say it gets under my skin. This bigotry. But it is bigotry of self. Intolerance of their own opinions. We are aware of the “standard” bigotry of anti this and anti that, hidden or blatant racism etc. But there is a deeper level of bigotry happening here. These people are actually intolerant of their own ideas. WTF?

Good question. They say they don’t like regulations, but they actually love regulations. They don’t like to regulate the market. (In fairness, they do like it now that the market tanked.) But, as I said, it goes beyond the market. They love regulating behaviour. They are bigots when it comes to social behaviour. They say they don’t want government to interfere? Hmm, I think they might be lying. No, I know they are lying.

You want the right to own a gun? Yep – don’t regulate that buddy. Don’t want no government to regulate that. “Step away from that regulation sir. Put your pen where I can see it.”

You want to chop down that tree? Yep – don’t regulate that. “It’s my yard and my bloody tree. Go hug your own tree.”

You want to join the KKK? Yep – don’t regulate that. “It’s my voice and I can pretty much say what the hell I want to. And join what ever I want.”

You want to form your own little sect down South? Yep – don’t regulate that. “It’s my religion and my sect so don’t dare go there. Really, the kids are very happy here.”

You want to scream “kill him” at your political opponent? Yep – don’t regulate that. “People died to protect my ability and right to shout what the heck I want to.”

It’s a noble principle. And one I agree with. To be able to have freedom I have to accept the freedom of others who do not look, speak, think, act or live like me. My freedom is dependent on that racist being able to say what he wants to say. My freedom is guaranteed by the loony also being able to carry a gun. That nutcase shouting “Kill him” embodies the freedom I enjoy to shout him down. The weirdo who has a few indoctrinated souls in the house of sects secures my right and freedom to walk around my house as an equal to others. The tough guy chopping down the trees makes me chaining myself to those same trees possible. It’s the beauty of being anti-regulation. It ensures freedoms we might not like but freedom that ensures our own freedom.

But… And this is a BIG but… (Single “t”.) That’s not what the American “right” really believes in. They don’t want freedom. They want their life just their way and no other way. So freedom for them but not for others. Only their “freedom”. That’s the bigotry. Sorry people, freedom goes both ways. You have to take the bad to have the good. But you don’t believe in that do you? You want “freedom” that is false and limited. The result is no freedom at all.

Why do I say that?

Well, easy… I’ll just give you one example of your bigotry of self.

Marriage. Gay marriages to be more specific. Look, I am not asking you whether you are gay. Or whether you want a man to be able to marry a man. Or whether you like the idea of a woman marrying another woman. All I am asking you… Why regulate? Why regulate who can marry who? Why regulate marriages but not guns? The one kills and the other doesn’t. I thought you don’t like regulations. Or is that just a double bigot I see? The one who doesn’t like anyone who isn’t as narrow-minded as yourself… And the one who likes to really regulate but who says he doesn’t? I call it snake oil bigotry. You say freedom but give us all chains. You included. Because your limitation of freedom for all means limitations for yourself. Of thought and of deeds. Bang-bang! Double whammy for you. A bigot with a forked tongue. A bigot of self.

Gay marriages. It’s not your call. I don’t like guns. I don’t like racist. I love trees. I don’t like sects. I don’t like people screaming rude insults ta rallies. But I acknowledge your right to carry a gun as part of the freedom that secures the freedoms I cherish. I know you chopping down the trees might be helping in killing this earth slowly, but I know it gives me the chance to plant some more. I despise you screaming stupid hate filled slogans at rallies, but I know it gives me a change to show those fence sitters how ill informed you are and get them on my side. And I know your racial hatred might make me vomit, but I know it is balanced by my right and freedom to shout you down and show to the world how pathetic you are.

You call yourself someone who doesn’t like big government? You call yourself an American who doesn’t like being told what to do? Right. But you can’t have it both ways. You are either for freedom or not. Not selective freedom. Selective freedom and rights are not what make America great. Freedom from interference… Freedom from over regulation…. Freedom for all no matter what… That’s what made America great. Can you handle it? Can you handle freedom? Can you handle being American?

I’m not even American but I sure like what it stands for. Freedom…

And once you taste real freedom… Damn, those pesky little “freedoms” sure go down well over here. It’s worth it. It’s worth being American. It think so. Do you?

A while back I wrote about my memories of Reagan and Thatcher – The blunting of the blood. (You don’t have to read it as this piece is based on that one.) How some of us now have such fond memories of those leaders of the 80’s. Yes, our memories take on such lovely scenery when we think of the days of yesterday. The good old days. Those photos of their smiling faces. When we still had crap music and even crappier clothes. I am so not going to talk about the hairstyles… We can laugh at how silly we were. But we can never allow ourselves to look back at those days and think that they were okay. They weren’t.

But all this reflection and softening of views make me turn to the current leader of the free world. G.W. Bush. Sorry, President G.W. Bush.

Let me be clear about this piece. Very clear. I don’t want any misunderstanding. I don’t want to be accused of something that isn’t there. No misreading please. This is not a reflection on America or the American people. I love America and Americans – and everything this country and the people stand for. I will back them till death do us part. This is one hell of a country and more important than most Americans will know. I am proud of the fact that my daughters have to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. But I won’t go into that today. Let’s just leave it at that. This is about President G.W. Bush and what he stands for and what he has done. I respect the office of the President of the United States and what it stands for – but I don’t respect President Bush and what he stands for. This is about never forgetting and never forgiving. This is about the memories we will have when we look back at the time President G.W. Bush ruled the free world.

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I am shocked, or rather surprised, by a few people close to me who mentioned that he looks like such a good dad. He looks like a good guy. Maybe a bit stupid, but a good guy you know.

No I don’t.

I was shocked by my first immediate reaction when the person said that they hated what he has done but that he seems like such a good dad and that it looks like he really loves his wife. My reaction?

“Well, Hitler loved Eva Braun.”

I did regret saying it but it was an immediate reaction. Like the one second rule in self defense. I didn’t think about it – it just popped out.

I regret saying it because I did not mean in any way that Bush is like Hitler. Not in any way. What I meant was that loving someone does not mean I have to have any compassion for you. Or that I should in any way view your actions as okay. It’s not.

You loved someone. So what? There are a shit load of people out there you didn’t love.

You had good intentions? Well… We know about that road and good intentions…

You are better than Hitler. So what? It’s not really a yardstick to measure anyone now is it? I can only judge you on your own actions. And for that reason there will be no forgetting. No forgiving. No favorable views. No good memories. No blunting of the blood.

I can’t look at him and think that somehow there is a good man hidden inside. I can’t read minds. I can’t see his soul. I can only judge by the actions I see. And the bodies in the street.  

I can’t wipe away the bad that happened yesterday. The pain doesn’t actually feel less important. Time does not heal the dead left behind. I can’t blunt the memories of those who suffered. 

Can we look at Bush and think that he was a good guy who loved his country and not remember the warmongering? I don’t doubt or question his love for his country. A great country. It is worth loving. And it is worth defending. But the love for his country does not make him a good guy. It doesn’t change the lies of WMD’s. It doesn’t change the lies of victory never achieved in his time. The empty promises of war and vengeance.

Can we look at Bush and think that love ruled his life before anything else? Even though he never spoke out against terrorists of human rights in Saudi Arabia. He didn’t fund them. But he never spoke out against them. You are judged by the company you keep. And they weren’t nice people. And he wasn’t a nice guy. Sitting on a horse for the cameras or chopping wood for the reporters are called acting. Not real life. How many people died because of his policies? How much blood must he have on his hands before you look at the man and say he was fundamentally flawed? And remind yourself never to forget that this is the man who ruled and not the guy we want to remember as the one who loved.

Can we remember Bush as the President who amused us with his silly words and stupid remarks? Can we laugh at how much fodder he gave the late night shows and comedians? No we can’t. We can’t forget how he slowly but surely strangled the last line in Pledge of Allegiance. “…liberty and justice for all.” How the freedoms and rights and liberties and justice were slowly eroded under his watch. The Patriot Act was sold as the car with the latest safety measures and gadgets. And all we got was a second-hand salesman selling us a car that guzzled gas and made us more addicted to foreign oil. Guantanamo Bay was the victim of the hit-and-run accident that involved that car.

And I won’t forgive or forget his favorite side-kick either. Tony Blair… How can we forget his wishy-washy attitude about the war that was against the popular wishes of his own people. Now hiding behind his religious beliefs as if God send him to go into a senseless war. His willingness to follow Bush to the graves of the innocent. Like Thatcher and Reagan. So was Blair and Bush. Different sides of the same coin. He was bad. They are bad. Bad. Bad. Bad.

I am sorry. I can’t look at Bush and his stupid smile and feel any warmth. I can’t see his love for those close to him. All I see is the people dying in the streets and the erosion of rights. And him not speaking out against the terrorists of human rights. People dying senselessly. Blood on his hands. No forgiveness. No love. Nothing.

I am sorry. I can’t. I can’t… I can’t forgive if the person doesn’t ask for forgiveness. I can’t look at him and see a “good guy”. I can’t. I see him and I see the look of Reagan and Thatcher in the 80’s. He has given leadership a bad name. Because he did bad things. Blood on his hands. No love. No forgiveness. No good memories. Nothing.

I see his fake smile and teary eyes when he realizes his time in charge is over. And then I see his deeds. The blood on the streets. Rights ripped to pieces. Honor gone to shit. Ideals flushed down the toilet. I see him selling me shit but calling it sweets. You didn’t fool me then. And my memories won’t fool me now.

I won’t let time fade my memories. I won’t. No blunting of the blood. You ask for forgiveness and I will forgive. But not an inch until then. I won’t do it. I will honor the dead of yesterday. And I will honor the dead of today. I will honor them by not forgetting them. And not forgiving you.

You should have known better. You should have known better. You ruled the free world. It came with a responsibility. An oath to walk the straight and narrow. A promise to be the shining light in our dark world. And you snuffed it out like it was a single candle in a storm. Without a blink. Without regret. Without a moment given to the dead lying in your path. Without a moment of asking forgiveness. Because you didn’t care. You only cared about yourself. You were selfish and self absorbed.

Wash your hands and turn your back. That’s what you will do. Like they did then and you will do now. I don’t feel sorry for you. I don’t think you were a nice guy. I have nothing for you. You are empty. Meaningless to humanity. You have meaning only in the blood you left behind in the streets. The rights lying in the gutters of life. And the blood etched in our memories.

I don’t give a damn about what the terrorist and the fucked up coward in the cave did. I don’t give a damn about what Saddam did. I don’t give a damn about what the Taliban did. They deserve death beyond comprehension. But I don’t care about their deeds. I expected them to be evil. It was in their bones. In their blood. They were in my face. They were bad. And we knew it. We know it. We heard their hatred and saw their murdering ways. Like Hitler they were.

But you. You were supposed to be the promise keeper. The good one. The fair one. The just one. The one who would fight for us. Be on our side. On the side of the innocent. The bystanders. And you spat on us and those who suffered. And gave us a fake cowboy smile and a gun to our heads.

I won’t let my memories be blunted by the troubles of today. Today is today. Yesterday was yesterday. You were bad yesterday. And you remain bad today. I won’t let them say “he was really a good guy who loved his family”. I won’t let them think of you as being out of depth and maybe a little stupid. I won’t let you get away with it. I won’t. You weren’t stupid. Your mistakes were made by you. Knowingly. I won’t forget. Not while the blood is still on your hands. Not while the rights and freedoms and liberties and justice are lying shattered at your feet. Not while I still have my memories of the dead. Not while you forgot to ask for forgiveness.

No blunting. You let us down. You have blood on your hands. You. Are. No. Great. Leader.

No blunting.

Never forget. Never forgive. Don’t let it fade.

No blunting. Of the blood.

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mandela1_11

I’ve been asked about my “anger” many times. What do you have to be “Angry” about? Why are you the “Angry African”? Why indeed…

I would rather have a good meal. Maybe help my wife prepare the food. Get the table ready. Talk about whether we should have brocolli or peas or carrots to go with the maple syrup chicken and roast potatoes she just made. That’s what I would rather do. Just have a good meal together with my family. Sitting at the table and laughing at the silliness of my daughters. Making funny noises and joking with their mother. Good times. Me, my family and a good meal. I would rather have a good meal. No need for anger here.

But how can I? How can I just have a meal when I know that somewhere out there in Zambia is a family arguing about how they divide the last of the nsima. Maybe this will be the last meal they share together. Because tomorrow brings no food and no hope. Maybe tomorrow the kids will have to go down to the charity handing out food and slip some away for ma and pa back home. But will grandma make it? Can she wait another 24 hours before she gets a little something to eat. No laughing or poking of fun. Not when the bones on their bodies are poking hard at their skin. How can there be no anger?

I would rather watch telly. Just vegetate and do nothing. Stare blankly at the screen. Flip channels because I can’t decide between CSI Miami or Kitchen Nightmares. Or maybe I should watch that Bond movie I taped? Or watch Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King again? Yeah. That’s what I want to do. Just stare at the telly and think of nothing. No anger here.

But how can I? How can I stare at the telly when tonight someone might be staring at the barrel of a gun somewhere in the Congo? No channels for them to watch. Maybe tonight will be the last time they see anything. I can change the channel but they can’t change their lives. I can play with the remote but they are here. Waiting for me to think of them. Always hiding somewhere in my conscious. Waiting to flip the channel of my brain to their station. No static. Just their lives waiting to be changed while they live a reality life. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather read a good book. Maybe just finish one of the many I am reading right now. Should I go with Mao and his killing or read about hope through the eyes of Obama? Maybe just get away from all that stuff and laugh at Bill Bryson telling me about A Short History of Nearly Everything. Aah. That what I want to do. Just read my book and let my mind slip away for a little bit. No anger here.

But how can I? How can I read a book when tomorrow the children will go and work those cocoa fields? The pages they flip are the pages of their life going past. One empty page after the other. Or maybe it is a horror. The horror of their lives. Living a Stephen King life larger than even he can imagine. But maybe some khat will help numb the pain. At least it will take away the glint in their eyes. And the empty pages of their life can be seen in their empty stares. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather play with my kids. Play outside like the crazy gang we are. Wild splashing we call swimming down at the lake. And go down that snowy hill when winter comes. Just me and my girls. Crazy, crazy, crazy. All I want is to hear their laughing and more laughing at their silly dad. Egging them on. Come on! You can do it girl! That’s what I would much rather want. Me and my crazy girls. Having fun. No anger here.

But how can I? When the other kids are running away from the warlord down the road. Playing dodgeball with the bullets. Not a sound of joy and belly laughs to be heard coming from their mouths. Just cries of pain as the bullets hit. Lucky if it misses. Dodge, dodge, dodge. That the games they play in the Congo. How can there be no anger?

I would must rather lie next to my wife. Falling asleep and hearing her breathe next to me. I can feel the stress of the day just slip away. Here is where I belong. Always telling her how much I love her. I can never say it too much or too often. And I run home because that is where I want to be. Just there next to her. My lovely wife. The one who gives me meaning. No anger here.

But how can I? When the women in Africa have to walk miles and miles just to get a drop of water for their homes. Every day. Down to the river and back. In the rush forgetting to boil it clean. And they see their families die around them. From a simple thing like drinking dirty water. How can I look at my wife and not see those women carry Africa on their backs being beaten and beaten and beaten. Day in and day out. Rape and murder. That’s what lies next to them at night. Death and destruction giving them meaning. How can there be no anger?

I would much rather just go on holiday. Maybe take a trip to Europe and visit those fancy French. Some cheese and red wine. Aah, that’s the life. Or laugh and point at Mickey and Minnie down at Disney. Maybe get away for just a week or two and visit my friend back home. Another trip to Bucks County would be nice. Just me and my three girls. Hanging out in New Hope for a drink and maybe a small piece of memory for the mantle. No anger here.

But how can I? When the only break my people get is another trade deal that fails. Or another empty promise for those dying of aids or malaria. Or the breaking of another leg as the torture continues in countries down South and East. But also here in the North and West. Broken promises to go with their broken lives. How can there be no anger?

I really just want to hang with my friends. Or drink a coffee by myself. Sip by sip. A braai and a good old fire. Learn to play the guitar like I’ve always wanted. Or write that bloody book that’s been bugging me for years. Save some money and retire early. Go for a drive in my car to watch the leaves go all rainbow in fall. The good things. That’s all I ever really want to do. Take it easy and stay easy. A smile, a laugh and good times.

I don’t want anger. I hate anger. It’s not nice. And it is not me.

Why am I angry?

I know happiness. I know what it is. I have it. Oh boy, do I have it. But I can’t enjoy it. At least not the way I want to enjoy it… Fully. I want to give myself totally to happiness. I want to live my happy days by throwing myself at it. Just living it 24/7.

That’s what pisses me off. That I can’t just enjoy life because of bigots. Because of liberty for some. Equality for those who can afford it. Freedom for those who were born free. Justice for those at the top.

I am angry because I can’t enjoy my life thanks to oppression of others. My right to have a fun time is shot to hell because of the rights of others being shot to hell. Bullet by bullet. Every warlord pisses me off because they remind me of what I am missing because of them. They are taking away my happiness because they are taking away the happiness of others.

I am angry because my friends and people I don’t even know can’t just love who they want. I love my wife. I love my wife. But the more I love her the more I am reminded of those who can’t love the way we love. That their love is somehow less meaningful than our love. I am pissed at bigots taking away happiness because they are taking away the rights of others.

I am pissed and angry for purely selfish reasons. I don’t want to fight for the rights of kids to have a shot at a life. I don’t want to fight for justice in the world trade and aid system. I don’t want to fight for the freedom of African women. I don’t want to fight for the equality of my gay friends who want to get married. I don’t want to fight for the liberty of the slaves working the sweatshops or farms in China or Africa. I don’t want to do all this crap. I want nothing to do with any of this.

I. Do. Not. Want. To. Do. This.

I just want to sit back and enjoy my life. Just me, my girls and my friends. Happy times. Good times.

But I can’t. And that is what pisses me off. That is what makes me angry. That is what makes me the Angry African.

I can only go do nothing when there is nothing to be done. When others can afford to do nothing. When everyone has a shot. You bloody people. With your rights and freedoms and liberty and equality and justice. Just have it already.

Fuck. Dammit. And everything and anything else that go with that.

I am because we are. Ubuntu.

I can only stop caring about what to watch on telly when there is nothing to care about. I can only be happy watching my kids go crazy when you have a shot at happiness. I can only have the liberty to drink my coffee sip after slow sip when you have liberty. I can only have my braai in peace when you have peace. I can only be the equal of my wife when we all are equal. I can only have justice when you have justice.  My freedom is your freedom…

I can only be free when you are free.

I can only be me when you can be you.

Until then… I am the Angry African.

f_slavery_boy_map_africa1

 

I come from a country where people were jailed because all they wanted was to be treated as equals.

I come from a country where people were killed because they didn’t agree with policies of hatred.

I come from a country where people were thrown in jail never to be charged – because the government could.

I come from a country where we gave up our liberties because of a false belief that it made us safer.

I come from a country where our true leaders were said to be terrorists because they dared to stand up for those who could not stand up for themselves.

I come from a country where the government controlled the media through lies and deception.

I come from a country where the media didn’t tell us the truth because they feared the government more than what they loved the truth.

I come from a country were our leaders told us and taught us more about hate than about hope.

I come from a country where the church walked hand in hand with those who were the perpetrators of oppression.

I come from a country that tortured those who didn’t agree with us all in the name of national security and fear.

I come from a country where we were told that anyone with a black skin or skin with a different shade than pink were somehow different from us and not one of us.

I come from a country where people who disagreed with the government in the mildest of ways were told that they were traitors.

I come from a country where we shouted “kill him” when we saw someone we thought didn’t look or think like us – even when they did.

I come from a country where fear controlled our every thought even though we never knew it.

I come from a country where history was rewritten to fit the story the government ideology wanted us to believe in.

I come from a country where we were our schools taught not science and facts but what the government and church wanted them to teach us.

I come from a country where information were kept from us because being kept in the dark kept our mouths shut.

I come from a country where we looked for blame elsewhere and not at the place where it was – in our homes and in our hearts.

I come from a country where we only allowed “freedom” to those who bowed to the power of government.

I come from a country where people with different sexual preferences were kept from being who they are – through laws and lies.

I come from a country where diversity were seen as threatening and not embraced as Gods way of making us all unique.

I come from a country where freedom was only given to those who looked and spoke and believed the same and not to those who were truly oppressed and discriminated against – women, gay and black South Africans.

I come from a country where we had elections but no one who mattered could vote or be voted for.

I come from a country where we believed that the opinions of those outside our borders did not matter.

I come from a country where we believed that no one but us were right and damn anyone who didn’t agree.

I come from a country where we believed we were in a democracy but we were just lying to ourselves.

I come from a country where the hatred we had for our fellow South Africans ruled our lives.

I come from a country where we created more enemies just so we could cling on to power we never really had.

I come from a country where we were divided and never united even though we called ourselves South Africans.

I come from a country where we didn’t have what you have.

Remember… Your are American. And you are because they are. How can you want other people to love and respect America if you can’t even love and respect yourself. Your own countrymen? You make America with your fellow Americans. You define it through your actions and through your words and through your thoughts. Be proud. Walk tall. Be true. Live in hope. Believe in each other. Create your dream. Make it real. Be Americans. And make America yours. Because who you are and what you do and what you say and what you think will define the America of tomorrow.

Don’t waste it. Make it count. Don’t be scared. Always seek the truth. Don’t believe the lies. But most of all. Most of all. Never, never ever hate your fellow Americans.

________________________________________

Everything that has been said over the last few days, weeks and months… This election. It made me think. Why? Why the hell do I even care? I can’t vote. I am not American. So why do I care apart from some warped idea that I live here and have some interest. Or that people I care for in this world will be affected by this election. I still shouldn’t get so worked up. It’s was only when I started looking back at my own country and the past that I remembered why… Hope. America represents hope. To me and to most people across this world. America is the hope we want to believe in. Hope of a better future. We just can’t see it right now.

Dear John,

I know we haven’t spoken for a while. Not since I broke up with you a few months ago. You remember my Dear John letter? Did you even get it? Very rude of you not to write back. I mean really. Did you have to take breaking-up so seriously? Live with it John. It’s over between the two of us. But I thought we could still be friends… Not that I missed you or anything. Puh-leeze… I need you like I need another 100 years of war.

What have you been up to? No, don’t answer. I don’t really want to hear. I see and hear enough on telly. You are seriously messing up my Lost and Raising The Bar time. Talking about Lost, how’s the election going? That Obama dude is really Raising The Bar isn’t he. The audacity of the man. To actually stand for something. And something good as well. I know, it is just not on in politics. But hey, what can you do?

But I am here to help John. Wait! Really, I have a few tips for you. (Just ask Sarah, I gave her a few tips as well.) Things you can use as you try and scare enough people to vote for you. Trust me, it comes from the deepest part of my heart. You know, that part that belongs to only you. The deepest and darkest part. I give you these tips in the hope that you could use them as you move along in your life outside of politics. I mean as you move along to retirement.

Missus in a bottle...

Missus in a bottle...

1. Having a beer woman on your side gets you no points if you don’t share.

Come on John. Didn’t you learn anything from Barney they Dinosaur?  Remember what he said? “Sharing is a special way of caring?” Not sharing isn’t very nice you know. Do you know that people voted for Bush because they think he is the kinda guy they would like to have a beer with? I know, it shouldn’t really be a criteria for who you want to run the country. But hey, what are you going to do? You get what you voted for. But you can learn from this. These people don’t really care about wars and money and stuff. So don’t worry about trying to figure that one out. If you don’t have it or get it by now you really shouldn’t bother. But dude! You have a babe with over $100 million worth of beers on your side! Not fair for not sharing. Why don’t you just promise a free round for everyone? No! Not a free round of more wars you idiot. A free round of beers! Hell, people are losing their homes and the kids are fighting a stupid war in Iraq – They could do with a drink you know. Come on John, ask Cindy for a few beers to share around. I would take one as well. You know, to drown my sorrows if you win. It might just make me forget.

2. Flip-flops are shoes and not a policy.

Summer is almost over dude. You have to get rid of the flip-flops. Both. Yes, the shoes and the policies. I mean really. The shoes are only good for one season but the policies… They come back to bite you in the ass for years to come. Oh, you can have more than one pair of flip-flop shoes, but you should really try to stick to one set of policies. Treat it like you would treat your wife. Have one and stick to her. Oh wait… Sorry… But on the policy front. Pick a policy and stick to one. I don’t care what it is, just make up your mind. Sooner or later people will start noticing the closer we get to winter. And they will realize you still have your flip-flops on. But then, I guess it is better than thongs. The shoes and the underwear.

3. A chick that smiles at you isn’t always hot or a running mate.

Dude! Nice one! I see you got a chick to run with you. Unfortunately she wasn’t running away with you. Or even away from you. That would have been so much easier. But man, you gotta learn. Even at your old age. Not every girl you meet that smiles at you has got the hots for you. Or should be your running mate. Look she isn’t hot. And I don’t just mean her looks. I mean her baggage. All those rumors up there in Alaska. The firing of the Commissioner. The debt she left behind in that little town. She’s a bit lightweight isn’t she? Or as we would call it in South Africa – wet behind the ears. And she might be foreign to mainland US or far off or spaced out, but it doesn’t give her foreign policy experience. What the hell do you think Putin is going to do with her? Hey, he is second in command over there in Russia you know. Doesn’t quite compare now does she? I hear he loves barracuda for breakfast. Sorry John. You’ve been had. She isn’t hot – no matter which way you look at it. But at least you have something in common I guess. You both love flip-flops.

4. Hugging a man does not make you gay. Just stupid.

Come on John. Be honest with us here. You have a man-crush on him don’t you? I saw that look in your eyes. That big hug with your head resting on his shoulder. A sweet whisper in his hear. A brush of the cheeks. It made you feel all giddy didn’t it? It made you feel all warm inside. But don’t confuse that with love John. It isn’t love. It’s envy. You are just envious that a little man that couldn’t run a baseball team to save his life beat you back then, aren’t you? And that he started a senseless war before you could, aren’t you? And that he became the worse President before you could ruin it, aren’t you? I know John. It is difficult to take. But you don’t have to become him or love him to be your own man. Come on. You are a big boy now. You just look stupid trying to be a Little Dubya II. But you two sure look nice in that hug. Twins almost. I could hardly tell you apart. Almost like your policies. Ever seen the movie Dumb and Dumber, John?

I love your wars big fella

I love your wars big fella

5. John, you are not del.icio.us. DiggIt?

I know you are trying to be all cool and hip. But really, it isn’t working that well. You gotta get with it John. I know you don’t get “the Internets” and all that computer stuff. But you are not helping yourself here. Email has nothing to do with she-males from Taiwan. They are similar in that they can deliver a message. But it is a message we should rather not go into. And MySpace isn’t the Reagan space programme. FaceBook isn’t about you being on the cover of “Guns Daily”. Digg isn’t an oil policy. StumbleUpon isn’t the way to get a foreign policy or any policy for that matter. MicroSoft isn’t something that can be fixed by Viagra. iPod isn’t something used to escape from the Starship Enterprise (that’s fictional by the way). Apple isn’t what the doctor told you to have. HP isn’t a sauce for you meat. Del.icio.us isn’t Sarah Palin’s vetting process. LinkedIn isn’t about your relationship with Dubya. RSS Feed isn’t an official aid policy. TreeHugger isn’t a Gore family member (well, not really). FeedBurner is not about GM crops. Spock does not know Captain Kirk. PayPal is not a donor. And Twitter is not for the birds. But okay, you might be a Twit.

6. Say after me, “P” in POTUS stands for President.

It’s easy, I taught my kids to spell this way. Say after me… P.O.T.U.S. stands for President Of The United States. You knew that’s POTUS stood for that right? No, not POT-ASS. That’s something else. It stands for PRESIDENT of the United States. I know it is a big surprise. But there you have it. I didn’t make the rules. It does not stand for Pandering OR The Ultimate Sell-out. Or even Pathetic Overtures That Ultimately Suck. No-no, John. It actually means you have to have the balls to run this country. You can’t pander just to try and become President. You actually have to stand for something other than just becoming POTUS. Look at what happened the last time you went for the “Don’t-Know” option. Endless wars and an economy that is tanking. And you are owned by China and the Middle-East. Balls please John. Or else you will make the US into Please, Our Time’s Up Sir. How low can you take it John? We are pretty rock-bottom as we speak. And do remember that the POTUS is also FOR the United States. Not for McCain. There is no J or M in POTUS. You should do it for the country and not for yourself. You should want to be President for and of the US and not just to be called President McCain. So don’t just say anything to become President. Rather say something “just” to become President. Hum… that last “just” is like in righteous or truthful. We get it from a little word that might be foreign to you – justice. This isn’t about you wanting to be President. This is about being the President Of The United States. Putting yourself first is not what America needs. Putting America first is what America needs.

7. The comb-over is not even old school.

I know you are trying hard. Hard to be one of the cool boys. But that hair just doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in the same way that you weak attempts at telling us nothing about yourself doesn’t work. No matter which way you comb it. You can brush it to the left or brush it to the right. We still know that it is a comb-over. Like we know you are anti-sex education, anti-choice, anti-peace and anti-everything in line with more of a typical Republican right-winger. It remains a comb-over and it sucked even in the 70s. But I guess it doesn’t suck as much as your policies and the party you stand for. Your comb-over isn’t “old school”. But your politics are old school. Straight from the books back then in the 60s (and even today) – control through fear. Shave your head McCain. It might look a bit cooler. Or hang your head in shame McCain and realize that people have freedom today. Of speech. Of choice. And of self.

8. Only Texans make more sense when speaking louder.

I have seen it before. People from Texas start speaking louder the further they get away from Texas. They have “Texan logic” to back-up their claim that people from a foreign country, like Massachusetts or France, will understand them better if they speak louder. But you are not Texan my friend. You don’t make more sense the louder you speak. You just create more white noise. A lie is a lie no matter how loud you say it. No matter how many times you say it. A lie remains a lie. No. Matter. How. Many. Times. You. Say. It. Take it from me. Slow down, speak softly and tell the truth. Like the fact that your tax proposal will actually increase the taxes I pay. And that you stand for… Hum… What do you stand for again?

9. Kool-Aid can be bad for your health.

I know you used to drink this stuff when you were a kid. But hey, we didn’t know about the problems with smoking or big fat hamburgers back then either. Kool-Aid is bad for you John. You shouldn’t drink it. The Kool-Aid that the economy is just fine. Don’t drink it John. And don’t sell it at your lemonade stand either. Or would that be a soap box? That Kool-Aid that drilling would make you energy independent. Don’t drink it John. Bad for your health. And bad for the health of the economy. That Kool-Aid that Iraq is doing just fine. Don’t drink it John. It’s not Disney you know. It’s Baghdad where the bombs still go off daily. Remember that walk in the market? Did you see they didn’t sell Kool-Aid? It’s because of the 100 troops on the ground, gunships in the air and armored vehicles on the roads that kept you in fresh Kool-Aid. That Kool-Aid should be left alone John. It’s no good for you and no good for America. And no thank, I don’t want any.

10. Please don’t scare the kids.

Last thing John. You really shouldn’t scare the children. You know how easily they scare. How easily they fill up with fear. Not nice John. Not nice at all. You should really let them grow up a bit. Let them decide for themselves. Tell them the truth. Tell them they are old enough to stand on their own two legs. I mean really. They aren’t even kids anymore. They are grown ups. Maybe you should share some truths with them. Tell them that America is a powerful nation. Tell them that America stands for something good. Tell them that not everyone hates America. Tell them that it is better to love as Americans than to hate as a world. Tell them it is better to talk first as America than to bomb first in the name of America. Tell them there are no monsters under their beds. Tell them that you might not know the future but that you stand for more than being anti-everything-Obama-says. Tell them that Obama was right about the withdrawel date in Iraq. Tell them that they will pay more taxes under you than under Obama. Tell them that you made a mistake in your first big decision by nominating Palin as your running mate. Tell them that you voted for the scary monster under the bed 90% of the time while he has been in the office. Tell them that your oil policies won’t get America an inch closer to energy independence. Tell them that you love big oil and anyone else who are willing to fund your run at the White House. Tell them that your senior advisers are all big lobbyist from DC and that they run your campaign. Tell them that you don’t need universal healthcare because you can afford you own private healthcare. Tell them you aren’t one of them because you are rich beyond their wildest dreams. Tell them you don’t worry about them losing their house because you have 7… 10… 12… Who knows and who is counting? Tell them that gas prices will remain high as hell as long as you sit in your big fat SUV with your big fat ego. Tell them that you will strip the forests to make sure that you have more paper to write your memoirs of pain. Tell them that you will continue to torture people in their name. Tell them that you want them to be at war for at least a 100 years and that they will suffer the consequences long after you are gone. Tell them who you are John. Tell them the truth. But then… Maybe not… Because that would be really scary and then they might know real fear.

 

There you go my boy! Ten easy tips even you can understand. I hope you have a fun time. Just look in the mirror and repeat after me John… “I must be better and more honest than what I really am. The truth will set me free. And I’ll just sit down and cry if that doesn’t work”. Repeat a thousand time and take an Aspirin.

John, John… John. What are we going to do with you? Or rather, where are you going to take us John? I’ve been there and it is not pretty. A country filled with hate and fear. We don’t need that John. We need love and hope. Give it to us or please leave the room.

Remember John, if you want to play this game of hate and fear then we’ll play the same right back at you! No more Mr Nice guy. You must be confusing me with some liberal. I am not. I am African.

Worst wishes, no love and hope to never see you again,

Angry African (on the Loose)

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