Blind Man with a Pistol


When Western governments and media heard that Chinese weapons were heading to Zimbabwe, they could scarcely contain their glee. Here was an opportunity to smear both the rising star of China and the easiest and most fruitful target Western leaders have whenever they need to boost their human rights credentials. How the United States and Britain can possibly keep a straight face while criticizing either the accumulation of weapons or their trade is certainly entertaining, but the spiteful gall of imperialism overpowers the gentle comedy of chutzpah.

The BBC, who never waste an opportunity to disclose with a smirk that they are banned from reporting in Zimbabwe, also never seriously examine why that might be the case. The BBC assumes that they simply remain the victims of state-sanctioned censorship, a savage suppression of journalistic freedom; meanwhile, they continue their portrayal of Zimbabwe as a country unable to hold democratic elections, fully under the thrall of a bloodthirsty, corrupt dictator. Zimbabwean opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, for his part, insists that the guns are not needed because the country is not at war. Such a statement does not prevent the BBC from proffering that tantalizing possibility, however—a reportage that continues unembarrassed by the fact that they cannot report first-hand.

I admit that like most of the Western media, I do not know much about the Zimbabwe political climate (or “crisis” if we are to believe the likes of Sky News). On the other hand, unlike the media, I will not make assumptions about or condemnations of Zimbabwe and its people based on what I do not know. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, all bluster and vinegar, declared “I call on the whole world to express its view that this is completely unacceptable to the whole of the international community.” Nothing warms the heart more than a fading world power engaged in illegal conflicts in the Middle East pontificating to a former imperial colony on what it deems “unacceptable.”

Despite all the evidence that shows the barbarity and violence taking place in Zimbabwe, and the fragility of the political climate that could very well erupt at any moment, Great Britain has ceded its claim to the moral high road when it comes to her former colony. Here is a rule that Great Britain, on whom the sun has set, should take to heart: in the machinations of a world leader that issued from the catastrophic failures of your own imperialistic, exploitive and racist history, from the colonialist sense of entitlement of white land owners, you don’t get a say. Hush, now. That ship has sailed.

5 Comments so far
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Do you deny that Mugabe is trying to derail the democratic process in Zimbabwe? When you refuse to release the parliamentary results for weeks on end, and still haven;t released the presidential results, that should be a red light that Mugabe ad his party are trying to sabotage the results to their favour.

Asking China for grenade launchers is hardly confidence inspiring either.

Comment by Scott Tribe

I don’t care to deny or to confirm what Mugabe is trying to do. I am as suspicious of Mugabe’s questionable power plays as I am of the West’s dubious interest in an opposition party that promises to restore land rights to deposed rich white colonists. But I am also aware that I know far more about the latter than I do about the former. I will also point out that Zimbabwe’s democratic process seems to be working quite fine–the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has upheld the original MDC win. Their analysis is likely much more informed than my own.

What I do condemn–and what this post is about–is not the actions of a world leader, but the despicable audacity of a Western media outlet to levy a criticism at a minor African state that it refuses to levy at its home nation. This, despite the fact that they are forbidden to investigate in Zimbabwe while they have a national mandate to investigate Britain. The BBC refuses to question why a former colony might be a little distrustful of the motives of a nationalized news agent of their former oppressors. They’d much prefer to paint Mugabe as a cartoonish African dictator and report his speeches with wry dismissal than recognize their own role in his coronation, and why he might be so popular with the people.

So Zimbabwe wants guns, do they? I don’t want them to have them, but personally, I think the U.S. and Britain should disarm first since they are a much larger threat to global security.

Comment by catchfire

You’re trying to excuse Mugambe’s behaviour by trying to blame the US and the UK fo crimes of their own? That appears to me to be a reds herring to distract. Anyone who thinks Mugabe isn’t a dictator is either an apologist for him, or a naive delusional person.

Comment by Scott Tribe

Actually, I don’t accuse or condemn anything about Mugabe. I don’t say much about him at all. He doesn’t sound like a very nice man, though. I also haven’t said whether or not I think he’s a “dictator” or not. I won’t guess whether you think I’m an “apologist” or a “naive delusional person” either, but what buoyant confidence you must have to be able to make such a polar distinction without the benefit of pluralistic reportage. It’s a trait you share with the BBC.

See, my post isn’t about Mugabe. It’s about the BBC and the Western media and their inability to distinguish between motes and beams. I have as little doubt of the atrocities being committed in Zimbabwe as I do of the MI5’s (and CSIS’s, for that matter) complicity in torture. We think Mugabe is trying to stockpile weapons for an unjust war, but we KNOW that the US, the UK and Canada are doing the same thing. Which does our media chose to report? Why do you think that is?

These are the questions I am asking. I am not asking how bad Mugabe is, but how bad our media is. I am pointing out that the British Government has exhausted its moral compass when it comes to Zimbabwe. It no longer has ethical ground to stand on to declare what is and what is not “unacceptable” to them. They were unacceptable for far too long and they are simply repeating the same narrative. It’s the same narrative, incidentally, that got Canada into Afghanistan and the US and Britain into Iraq. And it’s got to stop.

Comment by catchfire

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