A Mexican flag in America!

I’ve mentioned, quite a few times, on this blog that causing offence should not be a reason to limit someone’s speech. Just because someone takes offence at something doesn’t mean that it is offensive. That is quite clearly illustrated by a particularly bigoted woman in California.

Tressy Capps was so offended by a house flying a Mexican flag in the United States of America that she actually stopped her car, went up to the house and told them off. She called it disrespectful and that if the house wanted to fly the Mexican flag then they should move to Mexico! I hope for her sake that she never travels to New York because that’s where the headquarters of the United Nations is and there are 192 foreign flags flying proudly. Continue reading

Why the hate for foreigners?

I know of some possible explanations, such as they take our jobs, their culture clashes with ours or even just that they’re different and that makes us uncomfortable, but they don’t really sound very convincing. I read the news and get very depressed when I see the amount of racism and xenophobia that is out there and the way people react to it. Last week I read an article, and then followed a link to another one, describing South Africans’ attitudes to foreigners. The results were not encouraging.

The older survey, also a News24 article with a misleading headline, claims “Survey: Most okay with foreign spaza shops.” Despite what it suggests it’s wrong. It actually says 46% of South Africans are okay with foreigners having spaza shops, 44% are against it and 10% are undecided. 46% is more than 44% but it’s not “most” and it’s depressingly low for such a simple question. Continue reading

Violence in Burma, a lesson for all

When I revealed my blog at a journal club meeting I also made the offer to publish writings by my colleagues. I did get one response to that in the form of a email containing some horrific images of violence from Burma/Myanmar where, in June, there were violent clashes between the Buddhist Rakhine and the minority Islamic Rohingya. I’m not publishing the email here as it was just a forwarded email consisting primarily of pictures and a number of those pictures are far more graphic than I’m comfortable uploading. I did however find the topic to be worth pursuing and so below I’m posting a summary of the conflict and my take on the matter. Continue reading

Updates: Aan and Nando’s

There’s not too much new about the Alexander Aan case but there are a few things I missed when I originally wrote about his sentencing. There seems to be some disagreement with what he wrote. I originally read, and quoted, “God doesn’t exist” but now I’m seeing “God does not exist.” Of course that’s not really that big of a difference and it’s probably not even worth worrying about since he probably posted in Indonesian and not English. A little more serious was that I missed part of his sentence. Not only was Aan sentenced to 2,5 years in jail but also fined Rp100 million (about US$10 600). This article has some information on the groups that are supporting him.

Back in South Africa, there has been positive news regarding Nando’s anti-xenophobia advert. If you remember it was banned by the SABC, DStv and e.tv and M-Net for supposedly having a xenophobic undertone and in case people misunderstood it. This week, TopTV announced that it would show the ad on a number of it’s channels. One of the positive knock-on effects of that decision is that DStv has now lifted it’s own ban on the advert. Hopefully the other channels will soon follow suit.

UPDATE: Not worth making a new post for this but Nando’s has said it’s no longer interested in showing it’s ad on DStv.

Being against xenophobia is the same as encouraging it?

Apparently that’s so. Nando’s most recent advert was designed to promote diversity in the country. It did this by humorously making all the foreigners disappear in a puff of smoke till all that was left were the Khoisan. If I remember correctly (I can’t view the ad at current) it ended saying something like “True South Africans appreciate diversity.” The message is an important one, we come from all over but where you come from doesn’t matter. We are all humans and should all learn to live with each other. Continue reading