Last night my good mate Frame and I went to go see Evita for President at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn. The alter ego of Pieter Dirk Uys has been a household name, in South Africa anyway, for more than two decades and her (his) political satire is well known. This was my first live viewing of Uys in action and it was, for me, a most wonderful experience. Uys takes the stage in unassuming attire, a black undershirt and loose pants and commences his performance. Only 5 seconds in and the audience is already captivated, spellbound even, as Uys reels off line after line of well timed, current, relevant and down right funny material. He shifts effortlessly through a series of character sketches representative of South Africa old and new, punctuating each transition with a story about unfaltering optimism, joy and progress in the new South Africa. Uys is quite simply nothing short of a national treasure. Evita for President shows at the Tricycle Theatre through 1st September 2007. Highly recommended.
Last week Iran resumed its nuclear program in defiance of the wishes of, among others, the United States, Britain, France and Germany. According to Tehran, the program pursues only the peaceful aim of nuclear energy and denies any accusations there are plans afoot to develop any nuclear weapons. The suspicions of the international community are further exacerbated by comments made recently by the new president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that the state of Israel should be “wiped out”.
One should consider for a moment why a country like Iran, a former ally of the US, shouldn’t be allowed to pursue a nuclear program. President Ahmadinejad’s hate speak is objectionable in every way, but why would anybody use a nuclear weapon on ground held most holy to several faiths, including Islam? Even if Iran had an A-bomb, the case for actually using it quickly dissipates when the aftermath is considered. It is also somewhat hypocritical that the country who feels they are one of the very few who have the right to have nuclear weapons, the United States, is also the only country to ever use such a weapon in anger. Why should Iran be bullied by the so-called superpowers? Surely they have a right to pursue peaceful objectives and reap the benefits of cheap nuclear power, if indeed that is the case. If there is any doubt, Iran is subject to random inspections by the UN’s nuclear watchdog, so by all means, inspect!
My initial impression of these developments raises some alarm bells. It smacks, quite strongly, of pretext for war. Let’s consider for a moment the main purported reason for the US going to war in Iraq was those illusive WMD’s. The fact that they were never found is irrelevant, what matters is the pretext, the pretext for war. I guess it also helped that Iraq was a major oil producer and not to draw too obvious a parallel, but isn’t Iran also? Seems to this writer there is an ever stronger case to be made that plans are afoot to topple yet another undesirable regime and reap similar ill-gotten gains.
We in Britain can only hope that this government is not so easily taken in again and will, for a change, stand for what is right and fair.
The statistics prove it, most people simply don’t care about politics. As long as elections are free and fair, the general populace is largely mute and indifferent. I think I fall into this category of person, content to let the politicians squabble it out all they like as long as the boundaries aren’t overstepped. Recently however, I came across somebody so objectionable, it matters not that they reside on the other side of the pond, something must be said. I will not stay mute, the boundaries have been overstepped!
This person is Ann Coulter, a right wing nut job of the most fundamentalist kind, an extremist-conservative of dangerously inflammatory proportions. She is quoted most famously, or perhaps infamously, shortly after 9/11 as saying “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity”. The more I think about this, the degree to which I find this objectionable becomes more and more acute. My immediate reaction, apart from that of revulsion, was to ask how somebody with such Christian-centric, American-centric fundamentalist viewpoints can be allowed a forum? But we must respect everybody’s right to free speech, despite our personal viewpoints. It seems, furthermore, that Coulter has a following and quite a large one at that. Her books are best sellers and she even made the cover of Time Magazine (Ms. Right, April 25, 2005). It seems to me, the very fact that somebody like this is embraced, let alone indulged or even tolerated is an indictment on the US conservative right. I am careful to cite ‘conservative’ here; Coulter is despised by the liberal left as a new-age Nazi and we all know from the last elections, the US is split almost evenly in twain, politically speaking. Of course I am also generalising here, Coulter's viewpoints are likely not shared by the majority of conservatives, but it really only takes a few bad apples.
Coulter may be certifiable, but her commentary begs some obvious questions. Could it be that conservative North America actually believes in these viewpoints? If so, is this the national sentiment that fuels US modern imperialism? Might it be this kind of popular opinion we can hold responsible for 9/11 in the first place? Or is it more because the US army goes around writing stuff like “Courtesy of the Red White and Blue” on its tank turrets?
Like it or not, for better or worse, we are all affected by US policy, foreign and domestic. We can only hope the hicks and rednecks are outnumbered next time by the other half who did actually finish high school.
A collection of Coulter's more, erm, controversial quotes, can be found here.
Update 12/01/2006: OMG, I think I might just die of laughter, see: http://www.capitolhillblue.com/artman/publish/article_7786.shtml
This afternoon, I went to see Nelson Mandela addresses the masses at Trafalgar Square in aid of the Make Poverty History campaign. It truly is amasing that a man of fully 86 years still has the vigour, desire and will to make a difference in world politics and aid campaigns. Standing at Trafalgar square today, straining my legs and neck to catch a mere glimpse of the enigma, I was struck by how well loved and supported he is. Before my esteemed former president got up to speak, Bob Geldof had a few words today, but in no way did he have half the gravity of words or character of a man several decades his senior. The crowds turned out for one man today and he delivered. His speech was met with applause at every juncture and it is with sincere pride that I write about this day and this campaign. Click here to read more about Make Poverty History.
I think we all know how severe this natural disaster was and how many lives were lost. Every day I travel to work, open a newspaper, switch on the TV, listen to the radio or even hit a website like Amazon.co.uk, I am prompted to donate to the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal in some way. For something of this scale, everybody should contribute something; it really doesn't have to be much so long as everybody does it.
You can donate to the Tsunami Earthquake Appeal at http://www.dec.org.uk/.