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05 April 2009 @ 04:13 pm
Well, I'm getting vibes from various quarters that I've managed to thoroughly confuse all and sundry regarding my position on the United States of America. Now, I know the world won't stop revolving if my opinions on everything aren't known to everybody, because seriously, who the hell cares? But I think I owe it to everyone I've managed to confuse to at least state what my actual position is, since a load of folks seem to be convinced that I hate America or something and it's driving them (and me) up the walls.

First of all, my set of moral values are Western values. This includes the whole concept of freedom of conscience, religion, etc., seperation of Church and state (in the sense that the government should stay out of religion, not vice versa), democracy, the rule of law, the free market principle, and so forth. So, by default, I agree with America (particularly American conservatives) on all the most important issues.

There's just a few points where we disagree. One of them is the whole ultra-Capitalism thing. To my mind, a pure Capitalist system is in conflict with the free market, because the formation of monopolies and cartels marks the end of competitive behaviour. I'm not a Communist/far-left Socialist either. I don't like excessive State control, but I don't want the total absence of it either, because (especially factoring in rural-urban migration, jobless growth, etc.) undirected market forces cannot redress inequality. Keep in mind, though, that this is because I'm in South Africa where inequality between the developed and undeveloped market sectors is a major problem, so I'm not saying America is (or rather was, before the bailout) doing it wrong by being (or having been) Capitalist. They're in a different situation, so they'll have a different solution. I don't have issues with that.

My main problem, however, concerns the way America behaves internationally. That's where this pic [link] comes in and this seems to be the major point of confusion.

Let's put it all in context. The current world order is American. The major international monetary organisations are American. Politically, financially and militarily, the world is under the Pax Americana; and arguably, at least as far as international security goes, we're better off for it in the final analysis. The world between WW II and now has been more stable than at any other time in history, and to a major extent we owe it to American intervention.

However, like all world powers throughout history, America acts only in self-interest. That much should be obvious: everyone, everywhere, be they a person, an organisation, a country or any other human decision-maker, is motivated first and foremost by their own interests. This is where my parody map came in: I finally noticed that the West did not support the secession of Abkhasia et al, but they did support the secession of Kosovo, because it's all part of NATO's chess game with the East. In cases like these, America (like all other major powers) couldn't give two hoots over whether actual justice prevails, because in the end it's not about good vs. evil; it's about superpower vs. superpower. Morality doesn't even enter into the equation, and that's to be expected. But I take exception to the opinion that if someone is supported by America, they are automatically the salt of the earth. Take what happened in WW II, for example; at the time, mass murderer Stalin was known as "Uncle Joe" in the US because he happened to be their ally for the moment.

What I'm saying is this: that it's fine for America to look after its own interests, just as it is for any other country to look after its own interests; but where conflicting interests collide, all else being equal, neither America nor any other country can legitimately claim the moral high ground, except in matters related directly to domestic defense (i.e. repelling a direct invasion).

So to apply this to my own situation: while I appreciate the stabilising role America plays, I don't have to like or agree with everything it does if it conflicts with my own interests, by which I mean South African interests, both at home and abroad.

In addition, while I'm on the subject, I resent the fact that Africa in general gets treated like scum by the international community as a whole, East as well as West. I don't see why my country (and the whole subcontinent as well as the rest of Africa) can only be something in reference to what are basically Cold War era divisions. South Africa and its African allies fought the entire Southern African Cold War on the West's behalf, and a fat lot of good it did us; and we're currently sucking up to the East (China in particular), which is even less helpful. I'm not anti-American, far from it, but where African interests and the interests of uitlanders collide, I'm pro-African. I still share Western values, but I don't have to like foreign meddling. By way of contrast, I'm anti-Far Eastern in principle, because I don't share their moral and economic values of Communism (i.e. all-pervasive State control).

So to sum up: America, you totally rock!! but we don't all have to bend over backwards for you. You, just like the rest of us, are acting in your own interest. Don't lose sight of that fact. Call me crazy, but from where I stand, we can appreciate your good points better while we're drinking American soft drinks, watching American movies, and driving American cars than when we're looking down the wrong end of an American M-16. We have our own countries and our own interests, and we intend to pursue those interests. Much of the world (and especially the rest of NATO) is friendly or neutral towards you, but if you start throwing your weight around and acting like you run the place despite us, "America against the World", don't act so surprised when we get a little peeved. Here in South Africa, at least, we've learned the hard way that America will cut and run when it suits them, even if it was their foreign policy that landed us in the mess we're in, even if we helped them fight their wars.

Make no mistake, I still think America is probably the best thing since sliced bread, and I acknowledge the important role they fulfill, but when it comes down to the crunch I've got my own loyalties, thank you very much. I don't want any superpower to stomp its jackboots on African turf, and this includes America. I'm not bitter, I'm just disillusioned, and much better off for it.
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: irritatedirritated
Current Music: Soldaatvolk
04 December 2008 @ 04:41 pm
Well, after hearing for the so-manieth time that Christmas is of the Devil, I decided to go check it all out. I got an e-mail with this link (http://www.blowthetrumpet.org/thetruthaboutchristmas.htm) and headed over there.

I admit right now that I wasn’t really out to convince myself, but nevertheless I did my best to approach the subject with an open mind and prayed for discernment. In the final analysis, the article failed to convince me. Here I will quote the article in italics and intersperse it with my own comments.

We need to make informed choices about this issue because it affects our worship of God and as such, our very salvation. It is time to follow the Bible’s admonition and "prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:21).

This much is completely true, and I agree.

As shocking as this may sound, Jesus Christ was not born on or near December 25.

Why or how is this shocking? I thought everyone knew He wasn’t born in the dead of Winter, the lyrics of one or two Christmas hymns notwithstanding.

Further, the original apostles who knew Jesus personally never celebrated this holiday.

Obviously not. It was not the Jewish custom.

Additionally, the Bible nowhere encourages the celebration of Christmas [...]

What the Bible does not say is irrelevant. It says nothing about any number of things.

[...] but rather condemns such observances.

Well, we shall see.

The celebration of this holiday actually existed centuries before Jesus was born and did not enter Christianity until centuries after His death. [...] It was not until the fifth century that the Roman Catholic church ordered this day to be celebrated.

This much is common knowledge. The Christmas holiday is a retrofit of ancient pre-Christian festivals. The key here is that it’s a retrofit. But that’s an issue that only gets looked at later.

December 25

The article makes numerous references to festivals that occurred at or near this date. Given that this is near the time of the winter solstice (December 20-23) and that the calendar has been changed numerous times before and since, it seems to me to be a logical date to have a festival. The sun’s coming back, after all, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. That this is intertwined with pagan ideas of bringing the sun back by way of sacrifices is unfortunate, but hardly unexpected.

Christmas is so inextricably linked to celebrations practiced by the ancient Roman world that if a Roman citizen of that day were somehow raised from the dead to live in our age, he would immediately recognize Christmas today as the same holiday celebrated so many centuries ago.

Quite probable. He would also recognise the alphabet, plumbing, most hand tools, kitchenware, stylistic devices in design and architecture, a map of Italy, the ruins of the Collosseum, the thumbs-up sign (and its inverse), the trumpet, the military standard, the designation of the mile as a unit of measurement, the names of the months, the names of the Roman provinces (cf. Africa), a significant portion of English vocabulary, medical terminology, etc.

Virtually all pagan practices had their beginnings in the city of Babylon during the time of Nimrod.

Again, this is almost certainly common knowledge, especially among Christians, and definitely among all people who have ever read a Chick tract.

On each anniversary of Nimrod’s birthday, December 25, Semeramis would visit this evergreen tree [which was supposedly Nimrod reincarnated], claiming that Nimrod would leave gifts for her there.

Evergreen tree and gifts. I see the connection. But this ain’t the home stretch yet; let’s see where this leads.

[Nimrod] and his mother [Semeramis] became the chief entities of worship as a Madonna and child.

“The Madonna” is a strange choice of terminology, since I doubt the ancient pagans of Babel spoke medieval Italian. I agree, being Protestant, that mother Mary is not to be prayed to in any way, but there seems to be some gun-jumping in this part of the argument.

Throughout the world we still find the remnants of mother and child worship to this day.

Possibly. Still, this belongs in an article about Catholicism, not Christmas.

It is no surprise that this same system still exists at the end of the age. It is called "Mystery Babylon" (Revelation 17:5).

Pardon my scepticism, but the interpretations of eschatology are as many and as varied as those who have read the Book of Revelation. Besides, neither the cited verse nor the passage it is contained in make any reference to a child, which strikes me as being rather crucial to the argument. Besides, verse 18 says that “[t]he woman you saw is the great city that rules over the kings of the earth”. This could be Rome, of course. Or Washington, D.C. Or London. Or, come 2025, Beijing.

[Quote from another author:] Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it... From Egypt came the idea of a divine trinity...

Hold hard! So the Holy Trinity is pagan? That’s quite the assertion to make, especially by way of a passing remark. Since the rest of the quote is in the same vein, I’ll skip it and carry on.

The church eventually adopted and merged several different pagan ceremonies to eventually end up with the modern day practice of Christmas and the New Year celebrations we witness today.

Yes, of course. People like their festivals, so the Church gave it back to them with the Good News included. The symbology was re-applied. Keep in mind that in most cases, we’re dealing with folk of the more simple-minded persuasion here. The existing traditions would resonate with these people whom the Church was attempting to woo, and the Gospel would be easier to accept when sugar-coated. Since the pagan gods are no longer the objects of worship, how is this at all relevant to us today?

The article then goes on to describe the history of the legalisation of Christianity by Constantine at length. This sentence sums it up pretty well:

Legalizing Christianity solved one problem for the church, but it caused another.

I agree. The Church was beset by people using its organisation to play politics. This situation kept going and getting worse until the Reformation. That’s why there was one. Again, however, this has more to do with the politics between Catholics and Protestant hard-liners than the issue at hand.

While many professing Christians welcomed the liberty to celebrate these pagan practices, others objected.

Many people still refuse to eat pork. That’s fine, I suppose; they must follow their own conscience. But as for the rest of us...

The section concludes:

Most people today know little or nothing of the pagan origin of Christmas.

Citation needed.

They are unaware that faithful Christians first opposed these heretical practices.

Probable, but irrelevant.

Additionally, most Christians today don’t understand that believers dedicated to keeping the truth of God were forced to go underground, some suffering martyrdom rather than allowing themselves to participate in such things.

Again, I’d like to see a citation. And if it’s true, it is sad and needless, but hardly has bearing on whether it was the truth. I don’t want to come across as emotionless or uncaring, but even if someone would die for something, that does not make it true.

The Christmas Tree

This is an interesting section, historically speaking.

The story is told of Saint Bernice chopping down the Great Oak which was worshipped in some part of Europe. The article mentions that this was in “Germany”, which is nonsense, since Germany did not exist at the time; the closest I get is the Roman province of Germania, which is not the same thing. This sloppiness with terms and concepts is carried through the entire article, and it bothers me. In any event, Saint Bernice apparently chopped down this tree (and rightfully so); and then a fir tree sprang up instead. He proclaimed this to be the tree of Christ, by way of analogy to Christ’s birth and new life, and to replace the old pagan ways with the new Christian ones.

This, the article tells us, is similar to the story of Semeramis and Nimrod. It seems to be so, indeed, but then, the whole idea of rebirth out of death pre-exists Christ’s resurrection by several centuries, if not millennia; cf. ancient Egyptian legends, several of which are strikingly similar to Christ’s death and resurrection. Precedence does not imply that one thing equates to another; the Enemy, having some inkling as to the plan, is quite capable of creating parodies. Also, there is such a thing, humanly speaking, as coincidence.

History reveals that the worship of trees ...

Stop right there. We do not worship the tree. We decorate it and put it in the living room as decoration. That it is a carry-over from pagan festivals is by now well (and repetitively) established. That is not the point; or at any rate, that is only half of the argument.

The article then refers to Jeremiah 10, which it addresses in this manner:

He then goes into great detail describing a tradition in which the heathen cut a tree out of the forest and decorate it.

That much is rubbish. What the Book of Jeremiah, Chapter 10, says about idolatry is this:

3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
       they cut a tree out of the forest,
       and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

 4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
       they fasten it with hammer and nails
       so it will not totter.

This is not a Christmas tree; it’s a gold- and silver-plated wooden idol. There is a difference. Lo and behold, the article then goes on to say that:

Although many argue that Jeremiah is not referring to the Christmas tree, that argument misses the point.

One is led to wonder, then, why it was mentioned in the first place. It seems to me that the Jeremiah passage is mentioned on the basis of the book referring to Christmas trees (note that the article omits the part where the craftsman shapes the wood into an idol); counter-arguments are then rejected out of hand because Jeremiah does not refer to Christmas trees (which is true); and the main argument is then advanced on the basis that Jeremiah was referring to all idols, to which Christmas trees are now equated. To put it simply, this is a bait-and-switch tactic, which might be nice for open-air debating, but is hardly appropriate for this kind of article.

The article then quotes another author:

In Egypt that tree was the palm tree [...] the palm tree denoting the Pagan Messiah

So what does this make of the Entry into Jerusalem? Is Jesus Christ a false Messiah? I, for one, hope not! Of course, the obvious retort to this is that palm trees are common in that region and would be a logical choice both for a heathen festival and for association with Christ; but, by the same token, the fir tree is a logical choice in parts of the world where it is common. What’s good for the goose, and all that.

It is clear that the Christmas tree is a powerful symbol and conjures many images concerning the celebration it pictures. However, there is one thing the Christmas tree is NOT – it is not Christian.

Is that a fact? How curious. I was under the impression that the Christmas festival had been around as a celebration of Christ’s birth for many centuries.

The article then cites 2 Kings 17:9-12, which says that the Israelites secretly worshipped idols “under every green tree”. That makes sense: where else would they worship, in the blazing noonday sun? To tell the truth, in the same passage, the hills and heights are mentioned even more often as places of pagan worship. So why are we not demolishing the Alps?

As for the meaning of the tree, an elementary understanding of semantics, an aspect of semiotics (the science of signs and sign systems) is useful here. According to Pierce’s triadic model of the sign, any sign consists of three parts: the sign-vehicle (that which you see and the only explicit part of the sign); that which the sign-vehicle refers to (in the case of the Christmas tree, a dead green branch refers to a living, growing tree); and that which is implied or symbolised (in the case of the Christmas tree in the Christian tradition, it refers to new life; in context, Christ’s birth). The sign-vehicle is only one-third of the problem; it is the current usage which determines the meaning. The device of an inverted pentagram within a circle, for example, is a Satanic symbol because of its currently most widespread usage. The Swastika is a good-luck sign in Hinduism, but a sign denoting Nazism in various other cultures. Many common words in some languages are terrible curse words in others. There is no one-to-one relationship between sign-vehicle and the meaning conveyed by the entire sign, not in either direction.

Here’s the crux of the matter of the Christmas tree. That which is forbidden by the Bible is the festival surrounding the tree. Trees are not evil, only the evil rituals (centred, incidentally, on trees) are. To continue the analogy: the New Testament allows us to eat meat that has been sacrificed to idols or dedicated to other gods, provided we bless it in God’s Name (i.e., say grace and you can eat it even if it is Halaal, as almost everything here in South Africa is). We are not, however, allowed to bring sacrifices to idols, for obvious reasons. For the same reason, what we are not allowed to do is to congregate around fir trees and sacrifice virgins to Beelzebub; trees, however, are neutral.

Santa Claus

This section is vaguely ridiculous, but here goes anyway. Straight off the bat, the article quotes someone as saying that Santa is

none other than Satan the Dark One, symbolic of all evil...

Right. Moving on, we see that in Holland, Santa’s “Dark Helper” is known as “Zwarte Pier”. This does not make me very enthusiastic about the research, because the actual name of this character is Zwarte Piet, with a t, as in PAPA-INDIA-ECHO-TANGO.

After carrying on for a while about other things which are vaguely similar between ancient traditions and the character of Santa Claus, the article says:

It is interesting that by rearranging the letters in the name "Santa," the name becomes "Satan."

And there the integrity of the entire article goes down the WC. The so-called argument that Santa is an anagram of Satan is actually a parody of paranoid religious conspiracy theorists. Perhaps we should ring these ones up and tell them. Let me spell it out even more clearly: the fact that the name of Santa is an anagram of Satan, in English, and that this somehow proves something, is so... so Anglocentric that it’s just not funny. How about Santa’s Afrikaans name of Kersvader? Ja, “vader” is in there. Like Darth Vader. Someone, call Luke Skywalker, there’s a Dark Lord in my chimney.

Excuse my highly unprofessional attitude for a moment, but the Santa => Satan anagram idea is ... all right. I’ll move on now.

Most people believe the tradition of giving Christmas presents comes from the Bible.

Well, we commemorate the fact that Christ being born to us is a good thing. It’s the season of goodwill, no matter what our differences. So giving presents is just one of the things you could do, though some people prefer not to, so as not to get the kids focused on the presents instead of the real Reason for the season.

The truth is that gift giving at this time of year is not scriptural and has no basis in the story of the wise men.

Excuse me, but so what? Does it have to be in the Bible in black and white before these people will do something nice for someone else?

And of course, people gave gifts for the pagan festival of Saturnalia, et cetera ad infinitum et ad nauseam. Refer back to my argument about the Christmas tree.

Commercialism, Not Christianity

I’m skipping this, because we all know about that, don’t we?

The Yule Log, Holly, Wreaths, and Mistletoe

All my previous arguments apply. This is getting repetitive.

The article then handwaves on about the date of Jesus’ birth. The exact date of Christ’s birth is not known. The early Christians did not celebrate His birth, because they considered the celebration of anyone’s birth to be a pagan custom.

And these days we don’t. The medieval Church considered Arabic numerals to be a heathen invention and therefore didn’t use them, but I don’t see how this applies to us alive today. And lest we forget, a symbol similar to the numeral 2 occurs in some alphabets used by the occult. But I’m not going back to Roman numerals, thank you.

Jesus Was Not Born in Winter

Irrelevant, for the nth time. Jesus was not born in winter. We know this.

The Wise Men

We know. We know this. Everyone does. There were more than three. Cry me a river, and we’ll float downstream. Is there nothing so insignificant in the Christmas traditions that the authors of this article will not wag their judgmental finger at it?!

The First Noel

Apparently, the word “noel” derives from Celtic, and means “new sun”, which makes sense, considering the time of year. This, of course, is irrevocably Satanic. Let’s move on, shall we?

Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men

This also is evil and unBiblical, contrary to what the angels said. Very well, remind me to be extra vengeful and vindictive on Christmas Day.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

Obviously, their answer is... no, I won’t tell you. You figure it out. You seem to be clever enough. After all, you can read.

Now they start quoting again, but for a change, they’re quoting the Bible. Here is the passage:

Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, "How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise."

Once and for all, Christians celebrating Christmas do not serve the pagan gods, nor are they enquiring after how to serve Satan. The key point here is, enquire not after their gods. Which is what none of us are doing.

Aaron then made a proclamation that seems unimaginable in light of the great miracles Israel witnessed in their deliverance. After making this idol [i.e., the golden calf], Aaron proclaimed "a feast to the Eternal." God was so angry at this behavior that He actually suggested to Moses that the children of Israel be wiped out.

Yes, because the Israelites actually worshipped the thing and sacrificed their children to it. We do not worship the trees or sacrifice the kiddies. End. Of. Discussion.

And what about you? Will you accept the teachings of a world that embraces pagan practices and dresses them up as Christianity, or will you worship Him in spirit and in truth?

And what about you? Will you jump at every shadow, confine the other Christian to barracks whenever he twitches involuntarily as he stands at attention for your inspection, shoot your fellow Christian soldier in the trenches while ignoring the enemy marching on your position, and remain forever ineffective, ...

... or will you lighten up, get a life, and serve God with it?
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: O, Tannenbaum
06 November 2008 @ 09:55 pm
[Scroll down for English version!]

Uittreksel uit die boek 'Nasionale Fisiese Ontwikkelingsplan', uitgegee deur die Departement van Beplanning en die Omgewing, Republiek van Suid-Afrika, 1975.

Omdat die Suid-Afrikaanse ekonomiese stelsel op die vryemarkmeganisme gebaseer is, kan die huidige fisiese ontwikkelingspatroon gesien word as een van die gevolge van die basiese strewe van dié stelsel, naamlik maksimum wins uitgedruk in persoonlike geldinkomste. Die handelaar, die nyweraar en die boer vestig hulle op die plek waar inkomste en koste vir hulle maksimum voordele oplewer, en dit gee aanleiding tot 'n algemene verspreidingspatroon wat dan hoofsaaklik op korttermynbesluite berus. Die Regering van 'n land moet egter uit hoofde van sy groter kennis van gebeure op sowel plaaslike as internasionale vlak 'n breë siening handhaaf wat soms optrede vir langtermynoogmerke noodsaaklik kan maak wat nie noodwendig met korttermynoorwegings strook nie.

Die Regering se verantwoordelikheid is nie beperk tot die bevordering van ekonomiese vooruitgang nie; hy moet ook maatskaplike en ekologiese doelwitte nastreef en faktore in ag neem wat in baie gevalle die bevolkingsverspreidingspatroon en lokalisering van aktiwiteite kan beïnvloed en wat ingrypende ekonomiese implikasies kan inhou.

[...] By die keuse van waar groei moet plaasvind, is dit belangrik om in gedagte te hou dat, indien dit [uitsluitlik] aan vrye markfaktore oorgelaat word om die optimum vestigingsplek te bepaal, dit hoofsaaklik gedoen word op grondslag van die kostepatroon van die individuele onderneming sonder voldoende inagneming van die totale addisionele koste wat deur die hele gemeenskap gedra moet word. Hierdie benadering sou dus beteken dat 'n vestigingspatroon wat gegrond is op die maksimum ekonomiese voordeel van die ondernemer op die bodem sou uitkristalliseer in teenstelling met die optimale patroon vir die gemeenskap in sy geheel.

Daar moet egter ook gewaak word teen die ander uiterste, naamlik waar by die keuse van vestigingsplekke só te werk gegaan word dat daar heeltemaal van ekonomiese beginsels afgewyk word. Die gevolg kan dan wees dat die koste van sodanige vesting so hoog kan wees dat dit net nie kan slaag nie en ook nie ekonomies en andersins in landbelang sal wees nie.

Ten einde die ideale vestiginspatroon te bereik, is dit nodig om ekonomiese doelwitte met maatskaplike doelwitte te versoen.


Translation: Excerpt from the book 'National Physical Development Plan', published by the Department of Planning and the Environment, Republic of South Africa, 1975.

Because the South African economic system is based on the free market mechanism, the current physical development pattern can be seen as one of the consequences of the basic goals of the aforementioned system, namely maximum profit expressed in personal monetary income. The merchant, the manufacturer and the farmer settle themselves at the place where income and expenditure provide them with the maximum benefits, and this leads to a general distribution pattern which is therefore mainly centered on short-term decisions. The Government of a country must, however, from a position of greater knowledge concerning events at both the local as well as the international level, maintain a broad view which would sometimes make actions for long-term designs essential, and which would not necessarily harmonise with short term considerations.

The responsibility of Government is not limited to the advancement of economic progress; it must also strive after social and ecological goals, and must take factors into account which in many cases would influence the population settlement pattern and localisation of activities and which could involve interventionary economic implications.

[...] Concerning the choice of where growth should take place, it is important to keep in mind that, should it be left [exclusively] to free market factors to determine the optimum location for settlement, the decision would mainly be made based on the cost pattern of the individual business without sufficient consideration of the total additional costs which must be defrayed by the entire community. This approach would therefore mean that a pattern of settlement which is based on the maximum economic benefit of the business owner would eventually manifest itself on the ground in opposition to the optimal pattern for the community as a whole.

However, care must also be taken in order to guard against the other extreme, namely that by which the choice of settlement locations is approached in a way which completely deviates from economic principles. The consequence in such a case can then be that the cost of such settlement be so high that it cannot succeed, and will therefore not be in the national interest either, whether economically or otherwise.

In order to reach the ideal settlement pattern, it is necessary to reconcile economic goals with social goals.
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: optimisticoptimistic
19 September 2008 @ 04:26 pm

Translated from the front page of the Rekord, East Pretoria edition.

City Must Change

Paul Kruger and his Boer warriors on Church Square as well as those in front of the Pretoria City Hall may well have to move should the Tshwane Metro have its way.

Paul Kruger Street is one of the 27 streets which will, according to a suggestion by the Metro, be rechristened to 'reflect the country's various cultures and languages'.

The name changes will apparently occur with public participation of the city's residents.

A speaker of the Metro, councillor Khorombi Dau, has said that the statues may be removed if the name changes of the streets is approved.

'I can't say “yes” or “no”. It will all depend on the results of the public participation process. If residents want to change the street names, the statues will be removed,' says clr. Dau. The resolution for the changing of the street names was approved on the 27th of September last year. Altogether 27 street names in the CBD of Pretoria will change to show the 'shared heritage' of the city, the Metro said last Thursday.

'Residents will have 28 days in October to comment and give suggestions, whereafter the specifics of the process will be announced in the following week,' says clr. Dau.

According to him, the main goal is to create a new African capital which communicates its shared history, identity and future.

'Given the history of the city and the naming of the streets, it is esential to change the insulting names which still show our colonial and apartheid past,' he says.

In terms of section 155 (1)(a) of the Constitution, the Municipality has 'exclusive municipal executional and legislative management in its area,' he adds. 'The naming of streets is therefore within the jurisdiction of the Municipality.' He says the council can in this way give recognition to the need to include other cultures and languages in the capital.

The process has the goal of reforming and recreating the city's image. Clr. Dau says suggestions were made that the names of people who contributed to the freedom struggle, as well as those who fought for gender equality and those who were known as cultural activists should be chosen as new street names.

'These criteria are not exclusive and other crieria may be considered,' says clr. Dau.

The following streets were identified for name changes: Pretorius, Schoeman, Van der Walt, Andries, DF Malan, Prinsloo, General Louis Botha, Skinner, Church, Leah Mangope, Jacob Maré, Walker/Charles, Queen Wilhelmina Lane, Mears/Beatrix/Voortrekkers, Hendrik Verwoerd, Hans Strijdom, Mitchell, Esselen, Vermeulen, Schubart, Potgieter, Paul Kruger, Proes, Michael Brink, Duncan and Zambesi.


The funny thing is, of course, that less than half of the names listed had anything to do with apartheid. Sure, you have your bad apples in there, and those name changes I would not oppose. But what's Paul Kruger and Church doing in there, for example? Paul Kruger was the president of the ZAR during the Anglo-Boer war, when the Transvaal was fighting the British colonialist forces. Church... well, you can't get any more innocuous and inoffensive than that, except if we're dealing with rabid anti-everything lefties here. (Which we are, of course.)

Should this name change go through... I don't know what I'll do personally, but there would go my last shred of confidence in this New South Africa of ours. It's sitting around the table playing cards with Russia and China, and it's already becoming impossible to tell which is which...

Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: pessimisticpessimistic
Current Music: God Save the South
17 August 2008 @ 09:16 am
===== (Scroll down for English version) =====

Georgië, die Grensoorlog, en die Modus Operandi van Kommunisme

Toe Rusland onlangs Georgië inval het ek aanvanklik nie geweet wat om te dink nie. Dis waar dat Rusland miskien oorreageer het, het ek gedink, maar was dit nie waar dat Georgië probeer het om die Ossetiërs, 'n etniese minderheid, uit te roei nie? Volgens die Georgiërs het die Suid-Ossetiese Seperatiste eerste geskiet, maar dit kon nie bewys word nie. Volgens die Russe het die Georgiërs duisende Suid-Ossetiërs wat ook Russiese burgers is, uitgeroei, maar dit kon ook nie bewys word nie. Al wat kon bewys word, is dat die Russe Georgië inval. Wat moet 'n mens nou hiervan dink? Dit lyk maar taamlik asof ons propaganda van alby kante af kry. Watter kant het reg? Het enige kant reg? Die hele matriks van moontlikhede is soos 'n massiewe Rubikskubus: hoe langer jy die raaisel probeer oplos, hoe moeliker word hy. En ek kon nog nooit 'n Rubikskubus oplos nie.

Maar dan het ons mos die modus operandi van die kommunistiese lande gedurende die Koue Oorlog. Hulle sê mos graag dat ons "fasiste" primitief is om in Koue Oorlog-terme te dink, maar ek's nie so seker nie. Met Putin, 'n man van die KGB, agter die stuur, glo ek ongelukkig nie aan Perestroika nie.

Hier's die geskiedenis agter ons Grensoorlog. 'n Mens hoor nie deesdae soveel hiervan nie, maar dit het gebeur. Dit was blykbaar die grootste hoeveelheid Russiese soldate en militêre hardeware buite Rusland sedert die Tweede Wêreldoorlog wat in die jare Sestig hier op ons drumpel kom parkeer het. Hulle en hulle Kubaanse kamerade was hoofsaaklik agter Suid-Afrikaanse goud en Angolese olie aan; vandaar die Grensoorlog. Ons het hulle lelik op hulle kollektiewe neus laat kyk en hulle imperialistiese planne in Afrika in die wiele gery. Op die ou end was die Grensoorlog so duur dat hulle koffers leeg was en hulle nie verder die Koue Oorlogspeletjie met ons kon speel nie; vandaar die sogenaamde "dood van kommunisme" ("The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!").

Maar wag net 'n oomblik! Ons was daai tyd mos nog onder die taamlik nasionaal-sosialistiese NP-regering. Ek is seker geen patriotiese Suid-Afrikaner hunker terug na daai dae nie, ten minste nie as hy by sy volle positiewe is nie. Het die Russe dan nie dalk reg nie? Beveg hulle nie dalk regtig wêreldwye fasisme en red hulle kamerade (van alle nasionaliteite) nie?

Hokaai! Wat ons dan eers moet aanneem, is dat die mense wat gehelp word, reeds met die Russe geaffilieerd is. Hulle boender mos nie agter elke klein oorloggie aan nie, hulle help eers as hulle kamerade in gevaar is. En hier is die belangrike punt: die ANC was nie altyd kommunisties nie. Die kommunistiese element in die party was aanvanklik maar swak. (Ek weet, want my eie familie was in die vroeë geskiedenis van die ANC betrokke; een van my familielede was selfs die leermeester van Sol Plaatjie.) Maar toe die kommuniste sien dat daar tweestryd in Suid-Afrika is, kies hulle mos kant. Hulle lei die militante ANC-lede in Rusland op. Ons huidige President, Mnr. Mbeki, so gaaf soos wat hy is, het sy militêre opleiding in 'n basis buite Moskou ontvang.

Nou maak dit skielik sin. Só loop die plannetjie van die gewese Sowjet-Unie: hulle vind broeiende onrus in 'n deel van die wêreld waar daar nuttige hulpbronne vir die uitbreiding van Moskou-gesentreerde kommusisme is. Hulle blaas die verloorkant se gedagtes aan totdat die konflik ontvlam (kommunistiese sametrekkings, gewelddadige teenstand, die uitdeel van paspoorte, de lot). Daarna help hulle hulle nuutgevonde kamerade. Selfs as hulle verloor (soos hier aanvanklik die geval was), het hulle steeds die lojaliteit van een helfte van die konflik wat deur hulle geskep is; op een of ander stadium kan hulle weer terugkom (bv. in Suid-Afrika, waar ons tans 'n ekonomiese ooreenkoms rakende goud en diamante en dalk ook steenkool-olie met die Russe het).

Presies dieselfde ding het nou in Georgië gebeur. Gazprom, die Russiese energiemaatskappy, probeer om sy houvas oor Sentraal-Asië en Oos-Europa te versterk deur die kraantjies toe te draai as lande wat deur hom van olie voorsien word, nie sy arbitrêre prysverhogings aanvaar nie. Die oliemaatskappy self is van sy wettige eienaar, 'n Russiese besigheidsman, afgevat en genasionaliseer, omdat dit nie sin maak vir 'n private maatskappy om al sy kliënte na die kompetiese toe te jaag deur die pryse te verhoog en die kliënte te probeer afpers nie. Toe Rusland (d.m.v. 'n genasionaliseerde Gazprom) daai triek probeer, begin Gazprom-kliënte om pype na Georgië aan te lê. Die Russe het toe reeds 'n vuil vingertjie in die Georgiese krisis. Terwyl hulle Sjinese kamerade die wêreld besig hou met 'n o-so-vriendelike Olimpiese openingsseremonie, val die Suid-Ossetiese Seperatiste Georgiese dorpe aan; Gerogië moet reageer; en ons weet almal wat gebeur het.

Waaraan ek nou eers dink: Kameraad Zuma, wat so alewig die geregtigheid van die Suid-Afrikaanse howe ontduik (so ewe asof hy vir sy eie mense bang is, nie waar nie?), is mos nie 'n slim mens nie. Hy sê elke week of wat iets anders. Want hy is dom. Klink dit bekend? Is daar nie nog 'n soortgelyke internasionale figuur nie? Ek gee jou sommer die antwoord: Dmitrij Medvedev.

"Wanneer olifante in 'n tweestryd gewikkel is, is dit die gras wat moet deurloop."

===== English version =====

Georgia, the Border War, and the Modus Operandi of Communism

When Russia invaded Georgia recently, I did not know what to think. It's true that Russia may have overreacted, I thought, but wasn't it true that Georgia tried to kill off the Ossetians, an ethnic minority? According to the Georgians, the South Ossetian Seperatists shot first, but it could not be proven. According to the Russians, the Georgians killed thousands of South Ossetians who were also Russian citizens, but that could not be proven either. The only thing that could be proven was that the Russians were invading Georgia. It looks as if we're getting propaganda from both sides. Which side is right? Is any side right? This whole matrix of possibilities is like a massive Rubik's Cube: the longer you try to solve the puzzle, the harder it gets. And I never could solve a Rubik's Cube.

But then we have to consider the modus operandi of the communist countries during the Cold War. They like saying that we "fascists" are primitive to think in Cold War terms, but I'm not so sure. With Putin, a KGB man, behind the wheel, I unfortunately do not believe in Perestroika.

Here is the history of our Border War. One doesn't hear of it so often these days, but it happened. It was apparently the greatest amount of Russian soldiers and military hardware outside of Russia since the Second World War which parked on our doorstep in the Sixties. They and their Cuban comrades were mainly after South African gold and Angolan oil; hence the Border War. We kicked their collective behind and halted their imperialist plans in Africa. Eventually the Border War was so expensive that their coffers were empty and they could no longer play the Cold War game with us; hence the so-called "death of communism" ("The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated!").

But wait just a moment! At that time we were still under the quite nasional-socialist NP government. I'm sure no patriotic South African wants to return to those days! Are the Russians then right, perhaps? Are they not perhaps really fighting worldwide fascism, saving their comrades (of all nationalities)?

Hold it! What we must first assume is that those who are helped are already affiliated with the Russians. I mean, they won't just interfere with every little war, they only help if their comrades are in danger. And here is the important point: the ANC was not always communist. The communist element was originally very weak. (I know this, because my own family was involved in the early history of the ANC; one of my relatives was even the mentor of Sol Plaatjie.) But when the communists saw that there was a conflict situation brewing in South Africa, they seized the opportunity and picked sides. They trained the militant ANC members in Russia. Our current President, Mr Mbeki, as kind as he is, got his military education in a base outside Moscow.

Now it suddenly makes sense. This is how the plan of the former Soviet Union goes: they find unrest breeding in some corner of the world where there are useful resources for the expansion of Moscow-centered communism. They fire the thoughts of the losing side until the conflict reaches the point of combustion (communist rallies, violent resistance, distribution of passports, the works). Thereafter they help their newfound comrades. Even if they lose (as was the case here, initially), they still have the loyalty of one half of the conflict that they created; at some or other stage they can return (e.g. in South Africa, where we currently have an economic partnership with the Russians concerning gold and diamonds and perhaps also coal-oil).

Exactly the same thing has now happened in Georgia. Gazprom, the Russian energy company, tried to strengthen its hold over Central Asia and Eastern Europe by closing the taps if countries which were being supplied with Russian oil did not want to pay their arbitrary price increases. The oil company itself was taken from its lawful owner, a Russian businessman, and was nationalised, because it does not make sense for a private company to chase all its customers to the competition by increasing its prices and trying to control the market. When Russia tried that tactic (by way of a nationalised Gazprom), Gazprom clients started building pipelines to Georgia. The Russians already had a dirty little finger in the Georgian pie. While their Chinese comrades distracted the world with an oh-so-friendly Olympic opening ceremony, the South Ossetian seperatists attacked Georgian towns; Georgia had to react; and we all know what happened.

Something occurs to me at this point: Comrade Zuma, who is continually running from the justice of South African courts (almost as if he were afraid of his own people, not so?), is not a clever person. Every week he says something different. Because he is stupid. Does that sound familiar? Is there not a similar international figure? I will give you the answer: Dmitry Medvedev.

"When two elephants struggle, it is the grass that suffers."
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: determined
Current Music: Transvaalse Volkslied
23 June 2008 @ 03:48 pm
(Scroll down for English version)

Kollektiewe skuldvrae en skuldgevoelens lê aan die kern van die denkpatrone van die moderne Suid-Afrikaner. ‘n Mens kan sien hoedat daar in deesdae se politieke milieu alewig na kollektiewe skuld verwys word wanneer een of ander ongeregtigheid ter sprake kom. Die Afrikaner is skuldig aan apartheid, die Engelsman aan kolonialisme, die swart man aan korrupsie en nepotisme (en dalk selfs die moorddadige aanvalle op onwettige immigrante). Vingers word gewys, humeure ontvlam, beskuldigings word heen en weer geslinger. Suid-Afrikaners sal weet waarvan ek praat.

Dis dié dat ons sulke eienaardige verskeinsels moet aanskou soos ouers wat weier om met hulle kinders Afrikaans te praat, of wit jongmense wat ewe druipstert die voete van ‘n “voorheen benadeelde” was. Dis daarom dat die retoriek van Swart Ekonomiese Bemagtiging so maklik en onophoudelik vloei. Dis die rede hoekom talle Afrikaners onder die wanindruk van aktiewe, agressiewe kulturele bedreiging verkeer. Dis dalk selfs een van die redes hoekom die skuldige wit massas so emigreer.

En dan is daar natuurlik die teenreaksie: die draer van kollektiewe skuld wat beweer dat hý die een is wat hier verontreg en verkeerd voorgestel word. Daar het jy onder andere die trotse ou Engelse omie wat, veilig in sy onskuld aan apartheid, hewig sal ontken dat die Britte se gedrag in die Tweede Vryheidsoorlog verkeerd was, en selfs die storie van “glas in die kos” sal probeer belaglik maak; daar het jy die Afrikaner wat vas daarvan oortuig is dat die vorige bedeling eintlik tot voordeel van almal was, of dat dit hoofsaaklik deur die Britte onder die Unie geïmplementeer was; daar het jy die Zulu wat speel dat hy nog nooit van die Mfecane gehoor het nie.

En tog... is dit nie ‘n natuurlike reaksie nie? Is dit nie te verwagte dat ‘n mens homself só sal verdedig nie? Hy word mos nou van iets beskuldig waarin hy geen rol gespeel het nie. Is dit nie vanselfsprekend dat hy sy skuld sal probeer ontken nie? Sy lidmaatskap aan die skuldige groep kan hy tog nie ontken sonder om sy eie volk, of taal, of rassegroep te bedrieg nie. Veel eerder sal hy homself en sy “groep” (wat dit ook al mag wees) totaal onskuldig probeer hou.

Party mense doen dinge effens anders: hulle skep vir hulself ‘n nuwe klassifikasie. Onder Afrikaners, soos ek uit my eie ondervinding weet, neem dit in die algemeen die vorm van liberalisme aan. ‘Nee, nie ons nie,’ sê die moderne “Afrikaanses”, ‘dis daai slegte lot regses se skuld, daai Orania klomp met hulle snorre en hulle gewere. Ons is mooi polities korrek en liberaal, ons gaan maak aspres met swartmense vriende. Ons was nou ons hande in onskuld.’ Die liberalisme is nou hulle wit mantel.

Myns insiens lê die probleem egter nie in die kwessie van aan watter groep jy behoort nie. Ek dink dat die swaartepunt van die hele saak nie by die lidmaatskap aan ‘n groep lê nie, maar by die toerekening van kollektiewe skuld in die eerste plek. Dit klink miskien ekstreem; laat my toe om verder te verduidelik.

In die wetlike sin is skuld slegs persoonlik. As iemand self ‘n wandaad begaan het, is hy skuldig en moet hy gestraf word. As hy nie self ‘n rol gespeel het nie, is hy onskuldig. Óf die een, óf die ander. As hy self skuldig is en hy weet dit, is sy gedrag definitief strafbaar. In die konteks van apartheidskuld moet die vraag van persoonlike skuld aan die regsproses - of so nie, aan die gewete van die indiwidu - oorgelaat word.

Maar die kollektiewe skuld werk heeltemaal anders: ‘n mens se lidmaatskap aan ‘n skuldige groep maak hóm skuldig, selfs al is hy in die wetlike sin onskuldig. As hy ‘n middelklas Afrikaner is, kan skuldgevoelens hom op alle fronte aanval. Elke keer as hy lekker eet, elke keer as hy warm water uit sy geyser gebruik, elke keer as hy die outomatiese sekuriteitshek van sy gemaklike woning agter hom toeskiet, elke keer as hy geld spandeer op iets wat nie noodsaaklik is nie, tref daardie dowwe skuldpyn sy diepste binneste. Hy vind dit dalk selfs moelik om ‘n swart man in die oë te kyk wanneer hy hom op straat ontmoet; hy kan maar net ongemaklik glimlag en verbystorm. En wat hy ookal mag doen, is daar geen uitweg uit hierdie kollektiewe skuld uit nie.

Waar lê nou die oplossing? Dis tog nie moontlik om te ontken dat daar groot misdade in die naam van die Afrikaner gepleeg is nie. Dis nie moontlik om daardie kollektiewe skuld te ontken nie. Ja, apartheid lê nou al meer as ‘n dekade in die verlede, maar mense leef en onthou langer terug as dit. Gevolge, persoonlik sowel as sosioekonomies, hou langer as dit.

En juis hier lê die belangrike punt: as iemand kollektief skuldig is, moet hy mos immers iets doen om die gevolge te versag, om die ongeregtighede reg te maak. En juis dit is wat ‘n vae gevoel van kollektiewe skuld nie kan uitrig nie. Teen so ‘n onversoenbare skuldgevoel is die mens hulpeloos; hy kan homself nie daaruit red nie, altans, nie sonder om sy identiteit te verloën nie. Die skuld slaan elke dag aan hom, en hy laat dit maar gebeur. Hy dink dan dat hy dit verdien. In sy eie oë is hy skuldig; hy moet nou minste ook skuldig voel.

Maar so ‘n skuldgevoel is nutteloos. Dit help hom nie, en dit help die mense aan wie hy verskuldig is nog minder. Niemand trek daaruit voordeel nie. En as ‘n Afrikaner nou miskien die voete van ‘n swart man was, wat help dit? Die swart man het nou nat voete en die mens wat sy voete gewas het, se gewete is vir ‘n rukkie gepaai. Maar niks het werklik verander nie. Die simboliek is miskien reg, maar dit is van geen praktiese nut nie.

My oplossing is dít: dat die konsep van die kollektiewe skuld eerder met die konsep van kollektiewe verantwoordelikheid vervang word. Die mens wat homself skuldig ag, is in sy eie oë minderwaardig, en dink hy verdien enige slegte dinge wat met hom gebeur. Hy is passief. En as hy dit regkry om deur leë simboliese gebare van sy skuldgevoel ontslae te raak, ag hy dit onnodig om die verlede se ongeregtighede reg te stel.

Daarteenoor stel ek iemand wat homself onskuldig maar verantwoordelik ag. Hierdie (hipotetiese) mens is nie daarin geïnterresseerd om homself te verontskuldig nie; hy is nie geïnterresseerd in leë, nuttelose gebare nie. Hy het die moed om die verontregde in die oë te kyk, die vryheid om met hom eerlik te wees, en om sy gelyke en sy vriend te kan wees. Hy besef dat hy in (en volgens) sy kapasiteit die negatiewe situasies waarvoor hy kollektief verantwoordelik is, moet beredder - maar juis omdat dit die regte ding is om te doen, nie omdat hy homself van skuld wil vryspreek nie. Hy hoef nie deur skuldgevoelens daartoe gedwing te word nie; hy doen dit vrywillig en met ‘n goeie gesindheid.

Dít, dink ek, is die geheim wat sal werk. Laat die skuld lê; neem die verantwoordelikheid op. Vergeet van selfbejammering; neem aksie. Hou op om ‘n slagoffer te wees; wees eerder ‘n selfstandige en verantwoordelike burger. As ons só kan handel en só kan saamstaan, dan is ons eers waarlik vry.

Nkosi sikelel’ i-Afrika!

----- English -----

Questions and feelings of collective guilt are central to the thinking of the modern South African. One can see how the concept of collective guilt is continually being referred to in today’s political climate. The Afrikaner is guilty of apartheid, the Englishman of colonialism, the black man of corruption and nepotism (and perhaps even the so-called xenophobic attacks on illegal immigrants). Fingers point, tempers explode, accusations are flung back and forth.

That’s why we have to behold such strage phenomena as parents that refuse to speak Afrikaans to their children, or white youths guiltily washing the feet of someone who was “previously disadvantaged”. That’s why the rhetoric of Black Economic Empowerment flows so easily and ceaselessly. That’s why so many Afrikaners are under the mistaken impression that their culture is under immediate, and actively hostile, threat. It may even be a contributing factor to why the guilty white masses are emigrating in droves.

And then, of course, we have the counter-reaction: the person who is collectively guilty but who says that he is himself the one being misrepresented. For example, you’ll have the proud old English gent who, secure in his innocence regarding apartheid, will vehemently deny that the British were in the wrong in the Anglo-Boer War, and will even deny that those infamous shards of glass were put into the food of the concentration camp inmates; you’ll find Afrikaners who will try to argue that apartheid was for the benefit of all, or was primarily implemented by the British under the Union; you’ll find the Zulu who pretends never to have heard of the Mfecane.

And yet... is this not a natural reaction? Isn’t it to be expected that someone would defend himself in this way? After all, he is being accused of something in which he played no role. Doesn’t it go without saying that he will try to deny his guilt? He cannot deny his membership to a guilty group without betraying his own nation, or language, or “race”, as the case may be. He’d much rather try to consider his “group” innocent.

Others do things slightly differently: they create a new classification for themselves. Among Afrikaners, as I can attest from my own experience, this often takes the form of liberalism. ‘No, not us,’ say the modern “Afrikaanses”, ‘it’s that lot of conservatives who are at fault. That Orania crowd with their moustaches and their guns. We, on the other hand, are politically correct and liberal, we go out of our way to make friends with black people. We wash our hands in innocence.’ Liberalism has become their white robe of innocence.

But as I see it, the problem does not lie in which group you happen to belong to. I think that the crux of the whole matter does not lie in membership of a group, but with the assignment of collective guilt in the first place. That may sound extreme; allow me to explain further.

In the lawful sense, guilt is strictly personal. If someone did a misdeed, he is guilty and must be punished. If he played no role, he is innocent. Either the one or the other. He cannot be held guilty (and punishable) for the actions of another. On the other hand, if he is personally guilty, then he is definitely to be punished. In the context of guilt pertaining to the apartheid system, this question lies in the domain of judicial prcedures, or otherwise with personal conscience.

But collective guilt works differently: a person’s membership in a collectively guilty demographic renders him personally guilty, even if he is not personally guilty in the lawful sense. If he is a middle class Afrikaner, he is beset by guilt from all directions. Every time he has a good meal, every time he uses hot water from his geyser, every time he closes the automatic security gate behind him, every time he spends money on something which is not strictly essential, a pang of guilt assaults him. He may even find it difficult to look a black man in the eyes when he meets him along the road; he can only smile uncomfortably and hurry past. And, whatever he does, there is no way out of this collective guilt.

Where lies the solution? It is, after all, not possible to deny that great crimes were committed in the name of the Afrikaner. It is not possible to deny that collective guilt as long as you play by its rules. Granted, apartheid lies more than a decade in the past, but people live longer than that, and remember farther back than that. Consequences, personal as well as socioeconomic, remain longer than that.

And exactly here lies the important point: if someone is collectively guilty, mustn’t he do something to mitigate the consequences, to end and repair the injustices? And that is exactly what a feeling of collective guilt cannot accomplish. Against such an irredeemable feeling of guilt the human creature is helpless; he cannot save himself from it, or at least not without denying and betraying his own identity. He is attacked by guilt every day, and he lets it happen. He thinks that he deserves it. In his own eyes he is guilty; the least he can do is to feel guilty.

But this feeling of guilt is practically useless. It does not help him, and it helps the person he is guilty towards even less. Nobody can benefit from it. And if an Afrikaner now decides to wash the feet of a black man, of what use is that? The black man now has wet feet and the man who washed his feet has appeased his own conscience for a while. But nothing has really changed. The symbolism may be correct, but it has not been of any practical use whatsoever.

My solution is this: that the concept of collective guilt rather be replaced by the concept of collective responsibility. The person who considers himself guilty is inferior in his own eyes, and thinks that he deserves any misfortune that crosses his path. He is passive. And if he manages to rid himself of the feeling of guilt through empty symbolic gestures, he no longer considers it necessary to correct the past’s injustices.

In contrast I propose someone who considers himself innocent, yet responsible. This (hypothetical) person is not interested in excusing himself from guilt; he is not interested in empty, useless posturing. He has the courage to look the formerly wronged in the eye, he has the freedom to be honest with them, and he has the capacity to be their equal and their friend. He realises that he can, in and according to his capacity, help to negate the negative situations for which he is responsible - but because it is the right thing to do, not because he is trying to save himself from guilt. He does not need to be forced by means of a guilty conscience; he lends a hand freely and with clear intentions.

In my opinion, this is the secret that will work. Let guilt lie; take up responsibility. Forget self-pity; take action. Stop being a victim; instead, be an independent and responsible citizen. If we can can act and stand together in this manner, only then can we be truly free.

Nkosi sikelel’ i-Afrika!
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful
03 June 2008 @ 08:46 am
Why Political Correctness does more harm than anything else:

Political correctness confuses language and bars debate. When terms and concepts become prohibited, it is difficult if not impossible to articulate a viewpoint that has been deemed politically incorrect. The effect is that no debate on these issues is possible. Concepts are decreed "incorrect" and must forever remain that way. As soon as ideas are prohibited, there can be no further useful discussion on the affected topic, because debate becomes impossible. Communication becomes fraught with problems.

Political correctness obscures problems. As soon as language becomes obscured and concepts forbidden, certain problems can no longer be understood because they cannot be conveyed in a politically correct manner.

Political correctness hampers problem-solving. Obviously, as soon as problems become difficult to understand, solving those problems becomes increasingly difficult. Instead of problems being solved, their very existence is merely denied.

Political correctness is already creating concrete problems. For instance, political correctness forbids discrimination between individuals in any sphere of life, including education. In our (South African) universities, for example, many (but not all) black students are permitted to enter courses on a quota basis. The reason is obvious: if they were evaluated on an identical basis to white students, much fewer of them would be admitted (why else institute a quota system?), creating a perceived "racial bias". One is not allowed to say this, however. The implications, too, are obvious: quota-admitted black students are now being admitted to courses they are not qualified for. One is not allowed to say this, however. Therefore, racial-quota students need extra courses, perhaps even an extra year, to bring them up to standard, since they are behind their merit-admitted peers. One is not allowed to say this, however. The effect is that quota-admitted black students struggle through university paying more than they need to, since they need to continually retake courses. One is not allowed to point out this problem, however, since it would require the latter forbidden chain of reasoning.

Political correctness, to me, is like a child hiding by covering its eyes. Being wilfully ignorant of a problem will not, and cannot, produce a solution. And the very essence of political correctness, that of forbidding the expression of these and many other ideas, will worsen any and all affected problems.
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: irritatedirritated
Current Music: N/A
31 May 2008 @ 03:23 pm
...with thunderous applause, LJ has now stated that "[they]'ve decided to expand this [definition of Hate Speech] slightly so that it also applies to content which advocates the violence/harm of others. [They] feel that such expression goes beyond being merely offensive, and in practice leads to the harm of others, which [they] do not condone in any way."
Now as I'm aware, this is a democratic process, and I could be a candidate if I wanted. But I can move to googlepages at any time and I've got a lot of stuff on my plate already, so for the moment I'll limit my role to just wondering what's going on, in my capacity as a non-paying, relatively uninvolved user.

What I'm interested to know is, how do they define "harm"? Obviously this does not consist merely of physical harm, otherwise they would use only the word "violence". What if I state my position that I consider homosexual behaviour, for example, to be sinful (though I do not advocate violence towards people, and consider them valid recipients of God's grace and lovingkindness just like me)? Am I causing "harm" by making those within what I consider to be a deviant lifestyle "feel unwanted/undervalued/etc."? It would not be my intention to harm anyone at all, but could my opinion be classified as being "harmful"?

At the same time, I note that limitations around depictions of nudity are being relaxed. I would consider that to be causing spiritual harm to viewers. Is that a valid concern, or would I be accused of censorship? And if so, on what grounds?

This policy revision seems to be rather vague, couched in terms of "we feel" this or that. Does that mean that we as the users are now under the whims of (in the words of Anakin Skywalker) "someone wise", and how they "feel", rather than a rigidly-defined code? It sure seems that way, from here.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong.
Current Location: Pretoria
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine)
20 May 2008 @ 10:26 am
"The Star-Spangled Banner" in Afrikaans

Toe ek vir die soveelste keer na Bok van Blerk se “De La Rey” luister, en toe ek daarna ook boonop die Vrystaatse Volkslied se lirieke van ingeb.org gaan aflaai, val dit my uit die bloute by dat dit interresant behoort te wees om die eerste vers van “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Afrikaans te probeer vertaal. Toe ek dit klaar gedoen het, was ek so meegevoer dat ek die res maar ook vertaal het. Ek kon hier en daar nie anders nie as om maar te parafraseer; dis moeliker as wat mens dink om die rym, metrum, en betekenis te behou wanneer mens vertaal.

Wat vir my interresant is, is dat dit omtrent dieselfde logiese progressie as die Transvaalse volkslied volg. Laasgenoemde begin met ‘n stryd vir vryheid, verwys na wapperende vlae, en verklaar dat die volk se lyding verby is. Die derde vers verwys dan na God se genade oor die volk. Hierdie progressie is ook in “The Star-Spangled Banner” te sien, alhoewel daar nou nie juis na die natuurskoon van die land verwys word nie.

Wat vir my lekker was om raak te lees was waar die derde vers van die Amerikaanse volkslied verwys na die Britte se “foul footstep’s pollution”. Ha ha, “take that, Pommies!” :)

In elk geval, hier is die oorspronlike, gevolg deur die vertaling. Sê my asseblief as julle beter idees het: ek het die indruk dat die vertaling (veral in die eerste vers) ‘n bietjie te “Engels” klink…


1. O say can you see,
By the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd
At the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars,
Thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd,
Were so gallantly streaming?

And the rocket's red glare,
The bombs bursting in air
Gave proof thro' the night
That our flag was still there.

O say, does that star-spangled
Banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave?

2. On the shore, dimly seen
Thro' the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host
In dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze,
O'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows,
Half conceals, half discloses?

Now it catches the gleam
Of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected
Now shines in the stream.

Tis the star-spangled banner
O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.

3. And where is the band
Who so vauntingly swore,
'Mid the havoc of war
And the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country
They'd leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out
Their foul footstep's pollution.

No refuge could save
The hireling and slave
From the terror of flight
Or the gloom of the grave;

And the star-spangled banner
In triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.

4. O thus be it ever,
When free men shall stand
Between their loved homes
And the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace,
May the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made
And preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must,
When our cause it is just,
And this be our motto,
"In God is our trust!"

And the star-spangled banner
In triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.


1. Sê tog of jy kan sien,
In die vroeë oggendlig,
Wat ons (in’t) skemerings glim
Trots gehys, ingewy het?
Breë streep’ en wit ster’,
Waarop oë gerig
Tydens bitt’re gestreef
Altyddeur trou gebly het?

Elke vuurpyl se gloed
Elke bom wat daar woed
Het aan almal bewys:
Ja, ons vlag hou nog moed!

O sê tog of die Vaandel,
Met sterre besaai,
Steeds oor’t land van die vrye
En die moedige waai?

2. Aan die kus, skaars te sien
Deur die digte miswolk,
Waar die vyand se leër
So stillê soos die dood,
Wat is dit wat die bries
Oor die kransende kop,
Soos deur wolkbanke heen
Half verberg, half ontbloot?

Kyk! Daar skyn nou ‘n straal
Vir ‘n elkele maal
En verlig met sy glorie
Dit wat swiep aan die paal:

Dis die Vaandel, ja die Vaandel
Met sterre besaai
Wat oor die land van die vrye
En die moedige waai!

3. En waar is nou die mag
Wat gedreig en beloof,
Deur die oorlogs gewoel
En verwarrende krete,
Om van huis en van goed
En van land te beroof?
Hulle bloed moet vergeld
Vir hul besoed’lende treë!

Ja, die dood het gestraf
Elke huurling en slaaf
Elke een het geval
En beërf slegs die graf;

Triomf vir die Vaandel
Met sterre besaai,
Wat oor die land van die vrye
En die moedige waai!

4. So sal dit altyd wees
Waar die vrye man staan
Voor sy huis en sy haard
Teen verwoestende magte;
Met oorwinning geseën,
Mag ons in hierdie land
Hom prys wat ons geskep het
En behoed met Sy kragte!

Dan verslaan ons elk’ leër
As ons doel Hom vereer,
En so lees ons slagspreuk:
“Ons vertou op die Heer!”

En dan sal die Vaandel
Met sterre besaai,
Altyd oor die vrye land
Van die moediges waai!
Current Location: Home
Current Mood: accomplished
Current Music: De La Rey
28 April 2008 @ 09:39 pm
An old Tails cartoon I read today contained a strong gun control message. The last 3 pages looked like so (linked because of large image size):


So I just had to repair it:


Just couldn't resist :)