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Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 2022] The Last Continent

The Last Continent in Discworld is Australia. Or as Pratchett says “This is not a book about Australia. No, it’s about somewhere entirely different which just happens to be, here and there, a bit Australian.  Still… no worries, right?”

In the previous Rincewind story, he was sent to Four Ecks in exchange for a kangaroo.  He has been there for a time and has been adjusting reasonably well–only nearly everything wants to kill him.

But suddenly he meets Scrappy–a talking kangaroo.  Scrappy believes that Rincewind is a hero of sorts who is going to bring the wet (Rain) back to the continent.  Turns out that it has not rained in Four Ecks for a long time, although it is surrounded by forbidding storms that make the continent almost inaccessible from outside.

Four Ecks is also a time travel parody of sorts, because Rincewind is able to see himself (and the other wizards) in cave paintings that are thousands of years old but which just appeared in front of him.

Meanwhile, back in Ankh-Morpork, the librarian seems to be going through something.  His magical field (which tunrned him into an orangutan) seems to be failing.  He keeps turning into various shapes, and the senior wizards (Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully, The Dean, The Bursar, The Chair of Indefinite Studies, The Lecturer in Recent Runes, The Senior Wrangler, and Ponder Stibbons) are keen on fixing him–even if that means turning him back human–which he does NOT want, Indeed, the librarian destroyed all record of his original name–which would be essential for creating a spell to revert him to his original shape.

They decide that Rincewind might know a thing or two about the librarian since he was the librarian’s assistant.  They think about dragging Rincewind back, but soon realize the danger of that (and actually stop their plans before anyone can get hurt). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 2022] Jingo

With a title like Jingo, you know that Terry Pratchett isn’t holding back.  And indeed, this is a story about two countries fighting each other over disputed territory–and the unenlightened attitudes that people have about “foreigners.”

What is great about Pratchett is how much he is able to get his point across without being preachy.  Some of the unenlightened characters say offensive things, but they are quickly discoruaged from such attitudes–not with bludgeoning and hysteria, but with rational comments.  It’s very well done.

But what causes this trouble?  Well, out of nowhere, an island has surfaced.  The island of Leshp was submerged forever, and suddenly, it floated to the surface amid two fishermen.  Solid Jackson of Ankh-Morpork (and his long-suffering son) and Greasy Arif from Al-Khali, the Klatchian capital.  They often fought over their prey (the Curious Squid), because they sailed the same waters that were between the two countries.

While this is going on, diplomatic business is occurring in Ankh-Morpork.  The prince of Klatch, Khufurah, is in Ankh-Morpork to receive an honorary degree (Doctorum Adamus cum Flabello Dulci) in Sweet Fanny Adams.

Hostilities between A-M and Klatch are high.

Several leaders of the city are there to complain to Lord Vetenari about Klatch.  Watch Captain Sam Vimes is there to add a level head and sarcasm.  When someone complains that Klatch wouldn’t accept ten boatloads of cabbages, Vimes says out loud to himself “everyone knows caterpillars add to the flavor” and later “Meat is at its best when it’s going green.”

And of course, the Patrician knows his way around diplomacy: “it is no longer considered…nice…to send a warship … to show Johnny Foreigner the error of his ways.”

Later, the Prince meets with Vimes and asks him about the word he’s heard shouted at him: “towelhead.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: March 1, 2022] The Devil Made Me Do It

As South Africa entered the new millennium, things were progressing very slowly (and sometimes regressing).  And Zapiro was watching.

Homophobia was spreading throughout African nations.  There’s a banner that says Queens against Mugabe.  Zapiro ties it together nicely with a picture of Queen Elizabeth with a paper that says “Mugabe lambasts U.K.”

And an anti-rape ad (starring Charlize Theron) was banned because there was public outcry.  Which leads to a later strip in which children learn the rape message: it’s not bad to rape someone in your own family (A lenient sentence was given to a man who raped his daughter); rape is less offensive than an anti-rape ad that offends men; you can get away with rape if you are famous and hire a hotshot legal team.

Apartheid fallout was still happening.

There’s a an amusing picture of Apartheid Hell and the devil is showing all of the people there a video called No person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, gender ethnic or social origin, culture, sexual orientation….”  Although clearly the powerful men aren’t all getting punished as we see Craig Williamson, a constant figure in these battles, telling the Amnesty Committee to sit, lie down and fetch his amnesty. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 20, 2022] Call Mr. Delivery

This is Zapiro’s fourth book and it’s the first time, I think, that he’s put himself into the cartoons.  And it seems like maybe the world is getting to him.

Although his first appearance is in the meta-joke:

“Only one tiny minority welcomes the formation of Louis Luyt’s new political party” : Cartoonists.

But later by March 1999 he is on a therapist’s couch.  The therapist asks “when did you first experience this feeling of uselessness.  Zapiro says “this week suddenly reality seemed weirder than anything I could come up with.” (And the world hasn’t even gotten to trump yet).

It’s the end of the Mandela era and his successors don’t seem to be shaping up very well.

Although Mandela gets one nice shoutout.  He parts the waters for the Lockerbie Breakthrough and Libya asks if anyone ever get blasé about this sort of thing.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report had to have any negative mentions of F.W. DeKlerk removed.  And Desmond Tutu seems under attack from the left, right and centre (PAC, IFP, FF, ANC, NP, TRC). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 14, 2022] End of Part One

I’m not sure what the Part One is that this title refers to.  This book picks up where the last one left off and moves on into 1998.

It’s clear that Zapiro is still bitter about the Olympics, as the first cartoon is “For the first time the I.O.C. has awarded the Olympic Games to an African City” (the toon is dated 3004 A.D.

At some point it was imperative that I learn all of the political abbreviations.  And he has a good cartoon that summarizes them: (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 9, 2022] The Hole Truth

Nothing can make you feel ignorant like reading a book of cartoons.

This is a collection of South Africa-based cartoons that Zapiro wrote in 1996.  Who remembers what was going on twenty-five years ago?

Well, this book has an introduction from Archbishop Desmond Tutu (who appears a few times in cartoon form).  Tutu writes that Zapiro is there to skewer hypocrisy but that he has a desire to help the country into realizing their potential–even if it means gently nudging the people he supports when they mess up.

Every country has its share of corruption.  That’s the way of power.  A book like this makes it seem like there was nothing but corruption in South African (and with apartheid, that was likely the case).  Of course, the cartoonist assumes the reader knows what’s going on, so they don’t need to explain their cartoons.  If you don’t know what’s going on, well, you may not get the joke.  And then you feel stupid. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: February 9, 2022] The Madiba Years

Having read some of the more recent Zapiro books, I was delighted to see that our library had most if not all of his previous books as well–one that cover pretty much from the start of the Mandela years.  Mandela even blurbed this book: “Very exciting ad quite accurate.”

So why is it called the Madiba years?  It doesn’t say in the book, so I had to look it up

The clan or family name represents a person’s ancestry. The meaning is deeper than a surname and is used as a sign of respect and affection. The origin of Madiba comes from a chief who ruled in the 18th century, according to the Nelson Mandela Foundation.  Madiba would be used in “an intimate context,” said Richard Pithouse, a politics professor at Rhodes University in South Africa. When Mandela entered school, a teacher gave him the name Nelson. It was customary for Africans to also give children English names back then.  But the wider public had also taken to referring to Mandela as Madiba.  “People would not tend to use that name if they didn’t have positive feelings for him,” Pithouse said.

So there you have it.

This collection opens in 1994 with leader Mangope of Bophuthatswana’s declaration that democracy would not be coming to his homeland (he was very wrong).  With the eyes of the world on South Africa, Election Day shows the shining face of Mandela, pictured as the rising sun over the garbage heap that was the un-democratic elections.

June sees the proposal of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission–to find out what really happened during Apartheid.  There’s also talk of Joe Tokyo, a figure who has been mentioned in other books.  I’m fascinated by his name. In this particular cartoons, his housing plan is described as a pie in the sky.

Things that could apply to any leader include a woman scrubbing the floor in the Prime Minister’s Office.  In 1956, the assistant says to the PM: “Delegation of women to see you.” Then in 1994, the same woman (now much older), the same comment.  This time the scrubber says, “And this time it better work.”

There’s a lot of pages about Winnie Mandela (full name: Winnie Madikizela-Mandela).  I’d heard of her but never really realized what all the fuss was about–she was Nelson’s wife, right?   Well, apparently after he was imprisoned (citing Wikipedia):

In the mid-1980s Madikizela-Mandela exerted a “reign of terror”, and was “at the centre of an orgy of violence” in Soweto, which led to condemnation by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and a rebuke by the ANC in exile. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) established by Nelson Mandela’s government to investigate human rights abuses found Madikizela-Mandela to have been “politically and morally accountable for the gross violations of human rights committed by the Mandela United Football Club”, her security detail.  Madikizela-Mandela endorsed the necklacing of alleged police informers and apartheid government collaborators, and her security detail carried out kidnapping, torture, and murder, most notoriously the killing of 14-year-old Stompie Sepei whose kidnapping she was convicted of.

Damn!  And apparently her totally horrific activities weighed on Mandela.

They divorced about two years after he was elected.  But even in 1996 there’s a cartoon of Mandela behind bars with 1962-1990 and then from 1990-1996, he is chained to Winnie.

The big question after the Apartheid government failed was what to do with the men leftover.  Could they just put them in a museum?  Boerassic park?  Apparently F.W. De Klerk had a lot of “amnesia”–couldn’t remember anything that happened before 1990.

And what about the 3,000 former government functionaries that acting president Pik Botha indemnified?  It sounds like the blanket indemnity was ripped off of them–hopefully that will happen to anyone in this country pardoned under our former leader.

I particularly like the one where all of the dominoes fall, knocking down all of the former bad leaders with de Klerk next–again, could be very relevant to our country if they can actually act on it. It’s depressing though that this de Klerk cartoon is in November 1995–so long after the election in April 1994.

But Mandela wasn’t perfect.  When it comes to South African arms sales, apparently he turned a blind eye to backdoor sales.  And his Assembly Chairperson Cyril Rhamaphosa was concerned that when he consulted the public, they seemed to be full of intolerance.  The leaders cut down a hangman’s noose, but there’s a large tree with “pro hanging public opinion.”

There’s also the great unsolved mysteries of the world like The Curse of Tutankhamen, Bigfoot, The Bermuda Triangle and South African foreign policy.

It’s not all politics–there’s some strips about rugby and Springbok, which I’m fascinated by.  And of course much celebration for South Africa in the football (soccer) world.

He also has a strip for National Crime Prevention week. It was suggested that prisons becomes places of education.  But Zapiro says they already are–the criminal leaves with his diploma in drugs, gangs, guns, and knives.  Maybe they just need to change the curriculum.

And the first of many anti pro-life cartoons.  This one has Dr. Claude Newbury saying there shall be no abortion under any circumstance.  Then there’s a lightning bolt with Newbury suddenly pregnant and unwanted babies all round him with god saying “Get real, Claude.”

Evidently the Boer separatists (Volkstaat) were trying to prevent a new South Africa from forming

The concept of a Volkstaat, also called a Boerestaat, is the set of proposals to establish self-determination for Afrikaners (Whites) in South Africa, either on federal principles or as a fully independent Boer/Afrikaner homeland.

Then he shows the trouble with the integration of primary schools as two black students.  The room full of students all look like H.F. Verwoerd (and old man with his nose in the air).  But the glimmer of hope comes when a little white girl takes off her Verwoerd mask and smiles the black students.

Bishop Desmond Tutu as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Committee is shown in a graveyard labelled Apartheid Crimes.  Tutu says, “God help is to remember that the people who did this are also your children.”  God says “lemme get back to you on that one.”

And then in May 1996 De Klerk says the new NP position is “We brought you democracy.”  This compares to the short attention span of the voter:  Western Cape voters oppressed by the Nats for 40 years and happily votes Nat today.

On to Olympics fever! We see that Cape Town is bidding for the Olympics in 2004.  There’s old man Uncle Sam with an Atlanta 1996 shirt tripping over hurdles of security and efficiency and asking Baby South Africa if he really wants to try this.

Then Mandela went to England and it was a big celebration with Nelson’s column having its own Nelson removed and the nearby lion statue saying “tough luck old chap there’s only one Nelson In London this week.

Speaking of London, there’s nothing like the Charles and Diana Royal Side Show to distract the world from real problems.

And remember mad cow disease?

Zapiro sets his sights on Mugabe.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe was a Zimbabwean revolutionary and politician who served as Prime Minister of Zimbabwe from 1980 to 1987 and then as President from 1987 to 2017.

Obviously Mugabe was a bad dude.  Zapiro shows Mugabe putting targets on the back of gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe, while wearing a button that says bigot and proud of it

There’s only one mention of Clinton in this book.  He looks like Tintin as he is in The Adventures of Clintin in Bosnia.  He waltzes in with a peace but there’s Snowy the dog “I’d feel a lot better if that piece of paper has a disarmament clause.”

Zapiro also introduces Netanyahu who will have Isareal aiming for peace (by firing missilesat the peace dove)–he sure nailed that one.

You can see more of his cartoons at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/zapiro and at www.zapiro.com.

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: December 2021] Interesting Times

I tend to think that there aren’t that many Rincewind novels, but it’s clear that Terry liked to have him around as this is the fifth one!

I’ll also preface this by saying that some readers find this book to be problematic because it deals with people from the Aurient (Asia) and tends toward the stereotypical.  I will come right out and say that some of the things said in this book were cringeworthy, and one or two things made me uncomfortable.  However, keep in mind that Pratchett was clearly anti-racist in the Disc overall.  The Watch is one of the most un-racist institutions in fiction.

Remember also that Pratchett was a satirist and is writing for comedy.  Few people fare worse than white “European” men under Pratchett’s pen.  Finally, this book is mostly meant to be about ancient China and the draconian empires.  Yes, he throws in anachronisms (as he always does), and he blurs the boundaries into Japanese culture here and there–not cool.  But the real targets are bureaucracy and tyranny.

The book starts out with Rincewind finally happy.  That doesn’t bode well.

Then the Patrician of Ankh-Morpork receives a demand from the Agatean Empire that the “Great Wizzard” be sent to them immediately.  Vetinari doesn’t know what to make of this, but it obviously involves the WIzards.  All signs (well, the spelling of WIzzard) points to Rincewind.  Although the “great” part surely doesn’t.  But the wizards are suspicious of foreign parts and no one else wants to go, so why not send Rincewind?

In part because after Eric, Rincewind has been on a desert island.  The Wizards use their machine Hex (a proto-computer) to bring him back to Anhk-Morpork.  Rincewind is none too happy–he was really looking forward to the Amazon women that had just arrived on the island.  They might have potatoes after all.

But Hex worked and Rincewind is back.  Although soon enough they are about to send him to the Agatean Empire.  The Hex works by displacing something from where you land.  Which in this case was a lit cannon.  It arrives in the middle of the University (the Wizards wisely put out the fuse). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: hiatus

[READ: January 9, 2022] It Only Comes in Orange, Mr Zuma

This is the second collection of editorial cartoons from South Africa’s Daily Maverick newspaper.  Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) has been making editorial cartoons and caricatures since the early 1990s and has 25 books of cartoons published.  Turns out I have access to most of them so I may need to d a deep dive–maybe I’ll understand some of the politics more.

I really don’t know very much about the South Africa, and I feel like news about the country is not covered very much here.  I don’t understand all of the jokes in here, but I do feel like I have a vague grasp on the country now. However, it’s when Zapiro turns his pen abroad–especially against trump, that I can see how good of a satirist he is.  I posted this picture when talking about the previous book, but this cartoon appears in this one:

When he publishes the cartoons in the newspaper, they speak for themselves.  But in these collections, he adds a caption since most of the details are no longer fresh.  For the above he wrote:

Hell-bent on overturning the election result, trump supporters storm the Capitol building in Washington. The riot leaves five people dead.

How is it that there is any question about this still in our country.  Why is our justice system so slow?

Well, given the justice system in South Africa, our looks like a quick resolution. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: Right-wing lies about the Insurrection (2021).

[READ: November 2021] Small Blows Against Encroaching Totalitarianisms: Volume Two

Two years into the previous administration, McSweeney’s published two small books which railed against everything the Criminal in Chief stood for and had done.

Reading these books in 2021 after he had been soundly trounced in the election and with the possibility of jail time (for any of multitude of the illegal things that he did) is somewhat calming.   I think if I had read this in 2018 it would have been thoroughly dispiriting.  Because even though these essays provide hope, they are just full of recounting of the horrors that that [fill in the blank] and his crew of reprobates did.

It has been a year since the brainwashed masses tries to overthrow our government.  And still nothing has happened.  Our country is broken.  These essays don’t really fix it, but it’s nice to know you’re not alone in thinking this way. (more…)

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