Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stories that got my attention - 25 June 2008

Here are a couple of interesting and/or noteworthy stories that caught my attention this morning:

Mhambi: Is Nelson Mandela's silence on Zimbabwe OK?

Much is currently being made in the British Press of Nelson Mandela's visit to the UK for the concert celebration of his 90th birthday.

Not because of the planned star studded line up mind you. But because Mandela has not condemned Robert Mugabe's government of late...

Constitutionally Speaking: What happens when 5 judges retire?

Next year five judges of the Constitutional Court will come to the end of their 15 year term and will have to retire. These are Chief Justice Pius Langa and Justices Kate O’Regan, Albie Sachs, Yvonne Mgoro and Tollie Madala. Justices O’Regan, Sachs and Mokgoro have been consistently the most progressive voices on the court and it is difficult not to worry about the direction the court will take with five fresh faces on its benches.

Although there are some safeguards built into the Constitution regarding the appointment of judges, the process of appointing Constitutional Court judges are potentially open to political manipulation...

south africa THE GOOD NEWS: SA ad agency wins Grand Prix at Cannes

South African advertising agency DDB (SA) won the Grand Prix award in the Press category at the 55th Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival held in Cannes, France this week.

From more than 7 400 global entries in the press category, DDB (SA) scooped the coveted premier award for their Energizer campaign...

south africa THE GOOD NEWS: SA documentary wins World TV Award

A South African film has won the best documentary award in the 2008 World TV Awards.

The documentary, entitled "The Letter", deals with the personal stories emerging from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Through the story of a mother, who in search of closure and reconciliation, writes a letter to her son's killers, the film aims to increase public awareness around issues of diversity, tolerance and peace...

BBC News: US to ignore Zimbabwe poll result

The US will not recognise the outcome of Friday's presidential election run-off in Zimbabwe, a senior state department official has said.

Jendayi Frazer told the BBC Robert Mugabe could not claim a legitimate victory amid the current campaign of violence against the opposition...

My comments: Will South Africa follow a similar approach? I wish, but I don't see any chance of that happening. It will probably also not achieve much. It's a little like putting your hands in front of your eyes and saying - you're not there, I won't acknowledge you. Who do you talk to in order to end the charade? But at least the US is indicating that it doesn't approve of the current madness. Could South Africa's Government at least convey that message in public - 'Bob, you're a naughty boy and we don't like it'?. Once again I don't see this happening. I'm still depressed about Zim.

BBC News: Landmark Florida Everglades deal

US conservationists are hailing a landmark agreement under which the state of Florida will buy a huge tract of land from a major sugar company.

The US Sugar Corp has tentatively agreed to close down and sell the 800sq km of land it owns in the Everglades to Florida for $1.75bn (£890m).

Florida's governor said the agreement was as important as the creation of America's first national park.

The swampy Everglades is one of America's most unusual ecosystems...

BBC News: Biofuel use 'increasing poverty'

The replacement of traditional fuels with biofuels has dragged more than 30 million people worldwide into poverty, an aid agency report says.

Oxfam says so-called green policies in developed countries are contributing to the world's soaring food prices, which hit the poor hardest.

The group also says biofuels will do nothing to combat climate change.

Its report urges the EU to scrap a target of making 10% of all transport run on renewable resources by 2020.

Oxfam estimates the EU's target could multiply carbon emissions 70-fold by 2020 by changing the use of land...

BBC News: Bill Clinton endorses Obama bid

Former US President Bill Clinton has announced for the first time his support of fellow Democrat Barack Obama's bid for the White House.

Mr Clinton's wife Hillary was Mr Obama's biggest rival for the party nomination, and he was often critical of Mr Obama on the campaign trail.

Mr Clinton's spokesman said he was committed to working for an Obama win.

Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton are to hold a joint rally on Friday, but Mr Clinton will be in Europe and will not attend...

BBC News: Record sale for Monet masterpiece

A Claude Monet painting, Le Bassin Aux Nympheas, has fetched a record £40.9m for the artist's work at auction.

The identity of the victorious bidder at Christie's, London, has not been made public. The painting had been expected to fetch £24m.

Painted in 1919 in Giverny in France it has been seen in public just once in the past 80 years.

Monet's 1873 Le Pont du chemin de fer a Argenteuil, which sold in May, had held the previous record of £20.9m...

BBC News: Children terrified by SA xenophobia

Ten-year-old Fortune watched a man being shot dead in front of him as he accompanied his mother to the grocer's store.

Another 10-year-old saw men armed with clubs and guns preparing for an attack.

"I was scared," he says, "so I prayed."

Both children have been receiving counselling after a wave of anti-immigrant attacks in South Africa last month.

Their school called in art therapist Michelle Booth when teachers realised that many pupils had been traumatised by violence - which they had either suffered directly or witnessed...

TIMESONLINE: Outrage over £200m UK investment in Zimbabwe

Anglo American, the London-based mining giant, is to make what is believed to be the largest foreign investment in Zimbabwe to date, just as the British Government puts pressure on companies to withdraw from the country.

Anglo will invest $400 million (£200 million) to build a platinum mine in Zimbabwe — a move that has raised concern among some of the company’s shareholders and been condemned by politicians.

The Foreign Office was investigating tonight whether the company’s investment breached sanctions against Zimbabwe. Anglo insisted that its involvement in the country did not break the law.

The decision, which was criticised roundly as likely to give succour — and possibly money — to the Mugabe regime, is in stark contrast to the policy of nearly all other main British corporations in Zimbabwe. They are either withdrawing from the country or waiting for Mr Mugabe to be deposed before expanding their businesses...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

To BEE or not to BEE...

Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) is regarded as either holy or evil by South Africans, depending from which vantage point it's looked at. For non-South Africans who may not be in the know - BEE refers to affirmative action policies, which are driven first and foremost by Government through legislation, as well as through so-called BEE Charters agreed to between Government and Business (mostly by specific industry's, e.g. Tourism).

While race plays a major role in how BEE is perceived in South Africa, it would be a mistake to believe that all whites are against it and all blacks for it. BEE was always going to be a necessary evil at best and at worse reverse* discrimination (*against whites as opposed to previous discrimination against blacks). It can probably be argued that it will always be both... My own preference has been towards labelling it a 'necessary evil'. That is, BEE should be seen against the country's history of colonisation (±300 years) and formal Apartheid (±40 years), which robbed the black majority of opportunities for education and development. To address these past injustices, a degree of discrimination is needed in the present day (affirmative action).

However, about a decade of BEE has caused many to re-evaluate their stance on this thorny issue. To be fair many, myself included, had a lot of caveats regarding support for BEE / affirmative action to begin with. These now strongly come into play, given the history of BEE thus far. In short a smallish group of the (mostly) political well-connected have benefited hugely from BEE. Some black labourers benefit indirectly through union participation in BEE deals, although the empowerment effect thereof at ground roots level is questionable. The vast majority of black South Africans are not really in a stronger position to advance up the economic ladder - some even argue that most are in a worse position today.

There are a few aspects of the current BEE experience that troubles me greatly. These include:

  • The small number of people actually (disproportionally) empowered by BEE, as referred to above.

  • It seems that the main focus is on filling top, influential, highly paid positions, with black faces - i.e. following a top-down approach.

  • The previous point suggests that the only way to empower blacks is by getting rid of whites... That is, whites can't be trusted in playing a part in the great empowerment project. It has to be driven by blacks in high positions, by extension by driving out whites currently filling those positions. This is gross generalisation on my part, but it represents at the very least a worrying perception.

  • BEE in South Africa, in my view, is based too much on the redistribution of wealth rather than the creation of wealth. In other words cutting the proverbial economic pie in smaller pieces, so that everyone can get a bite - rather than baking a bigger pie. (Obviously the 'shareholding' in a bigger pie can remain in the same lily white hands, which won't help either.)

  • An experience which is bothering me more and more is listening to black commentators matter-of-factly stating that black South Africans must eventually dominate business, because of the demographics of our population. There is a culture of entitlement in these pronouncements that bugs me. If I as a white person build up a family business from scratch with years of blood and tears, am I required to simply hand over a majority stake to someone else, because of his black skin colour? Why can't a family business remain exactly that, irrespective of the family's race?
It would be naïve to expect that after 350 years of discrimination against blacks in this country an ANC Government would not opt for fast track empowerment, as they've done. But one would hope that this will be coupled with a similarly aggressive drive to empower blacks to compete on merit, not to be mere recipients of what virtually amounts to hand-outs? I fear this has generally not been the case.

The main failing of the ANC Government in my view has been the complete failure to deliver, or at least begin to deliver, quality education at (primary and secondary) school level. The fortunate black students that make it into universities (these days a very sizable portion of university populations) are either those who were able to get into historically white schools or the exceptional few who managed to reach the bar despite attending the average black township school (the average black township school being poor to useless).

At present universities attain their high percentage of black students not because of population demographics naturally leading to it. Rather, it is manipulated by setting different standards for different race groups. The bottom line is, if you're white you have to outperform black students by a clear margin in order to make it to university. Worse, if you're black a mediocre school performance will often do. The reason for this is not that black kids are lazy or have a lower intellectual capacity. It is rather that Government fails them - mostly in the poor execution of education policy -; school principals who are either unable to manage or don't care fail them; and ill qualified, poorly motivated and often totally uncommitted teachers fail them.

The baggage of school boycotts in the Apartheid era is also haunting us today. I'm amazed at how (black) school children still feature as cannon fodder in political struggles. Whether it be protests against poor service delivery by municipalities, provincial demarcation disputes or micro issues with particular education representatives the fact is that school children should be in classrooms being equipped for their futures - not out on the streets protesting. Parents and community leaders should ensure that children don't get dragged into these matters.

Yet, businesses are pressed continuously to promote black employees, often in preference of better qualified and experienced white co-workers. How can this be, if black schools are continuously allowed to sink further and further into the gutter? It all smacks of political expediency rather than a true commitment to empowering black South Africans. If you're serious about 'BEE' you need to empower black South Africans, first and foremost through dramatically improved school education, to compete.

The litmus test for BEE lies in abolishing affirmative action and then seeing whether you're doing enough for black school education to enable black children to naturally progress in big numbers into university and careers beyond. Blacks have the ability, as do any other race, to compete. They should be allowed to do so!

I didn't really have the stomach to wander into the above topic, but a talk by Moeletsi Mbeki (the brother of our infamous President...) got me fired up. While I've read about some of M Mbeki's opinions lately, I'm not able to vouch for his general positions, as they are mostly unknown to me. However, on this issue I think he's spot on. We need more (black) commentators who come out and address this important issue. I'm just hoping that enough do so to bring real change in BEE policies before my eldest child, born a decade after 1994 'democratic revolution', matriculates in about 2023... I'm not too hopeful though.

Below follows a report on Moeletsi Mbeki's talk as featured on

'BEE no solution to poverty'
Johannesburg - Wealth redistribution is no solution to poverty, political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki told a conference on the world economy in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"Redistribution can actually accentuate poverty and create social conflict," he said.

"I was one of the first to oppose Black Economic Empowerment (BEE), because if they're going to redistribute wealth, who is going to get what? Where are you going to get that wealth from?"

Broad Based BEE had only benefited top ANC leaders, Mbeki said.

"It benefits the people in power, but what about the poor? BEE is more of a problem than a solution."

He suggested that the government look at wealth creation rather than "fight the ghosts of the past. The ANC expends a lot of energy with BEE in an attempt to correct the past".

The only way to go bridge the gap between rich and poor was to sort out the education system and concentrate more on the development of small and medium businesses.

"BEE stops black from becoming entrepreneurs," Mbeki said.

"Black people are not necessarily against capitalism," he said, adding that it was only the model of capitalism that the apartheid National Party had promoted that blacks did not like.

He was however unsure if the ANC could market capitalism to the electorate.

"The ANC leaders are afraid of the unions - groups like Cosatu and the SACP - they think these groups deliver a huge constituency but they don't."

He said that the ANC had been "very good" at establishing a political system and the Constitution, but had not done well in economics.

"I never expected them to because they have never run a business."

He said that at least he and his brother, President Thabo Mbeki, had worked in the family's spaza shop as children.

"But when my brother gets kicked out as head of government, you won't have anyone there who has actually managed even a spaza shop."

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Monday morning Zim headache

Oh my, oh my, oh my... Just when you think things in Zimbabwe can't possibly turn out any worse. they do.

Morgan Tsvangirai, is this the last we're going to see of him?I caught the news of MDC opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai's withdrawal from the Zimbabwe presidential race on my cell last night. How depressing, utterly depressing. Apparently the MDC is keeping open a back door - but I can't see anything happening that will allow them to use it. I don't believe this is brinkmanship, this is simply the end of the road.

While I understand the MDC's utter desperateness, considering the 'orgy of violence' (to quote Tsvangirai) that has been unleashed against them, I cannot help but think that withdrawing is a huge mistake. What about the scores of MDC activists and regular supporters who paid with their lives in the recent past, hoping that this was the death throes of the Mugabe regime? Were their deaths in vain? Why pull out now, less than a week before the runoff? Yes, the election would not be free and fair - there's no chance of it being, considering the events of the last month and Mugabe's tyrannical history. But what does this achieve? Does it not snuff out any hope for normal Zimbabweans to get rid of the tyrant?

This is probably it. Robert Mugabe gets a free ticket to continue his thievery and power abuse. Will the region stop him? Dream on. Oh my, oh my, how depressing, how utterly depressing...

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

ANC Youth League President puts his foot in it (his mouth)

Stupid stupid speech!
Julius Malema (The Sowetan newspaper)Julius Malema, the by now (even more) controversial ANC Youth League President, is said to be on the defence after his inciting remarks in Thaba Nchu (Free State) at a Youth Day rally. The ANC President, Jacob Zuma, was in attendance and did not use his own speech later on to rebuke the young firebrand, but rather stuck to his prepared speech and ignored Malema's inexcusable utterings.

If you missed the news coverage on Malema's remarks, you can read about it here (The Times), but the following quote sums up the offending speech pretty well :

“Let us make it clear now: we are prepared to die for Zuma. Not only that, we are prepared to take up arms and kill for Zuma,”

This thoughtless inciting remark was apparently received with applause from the crowd... I don't think the above statement by Malema really requires any comment, it speaks for itself. Suffice to say that South Africa really needs better quality leaders with more common sense and respect for democracy and the rule of law.

The journalist and the war monger
A Times political reporter, Moipone Malefane, recorded an interview with Malema to get clarity on what he may have meant with his ill chosen rants. The audio interview follows at the end of this post. Instead of gracefully distancing him from his moment of foolishness he seems to only dive deeper into the murky waters of shallow, ideological, rhetoric. Malefane, on the other hand needs to be commended for not being thrown, but relentlessly asking piercing questions. She's clearly more of a print than broadcast journalist and is not very smooth in terms of presentation, but she zooms in mercilessly on the target!

- exactly who does the ANCYL want to kill?
Malefane pointedly asks him who 'they' are prepared to kill, perhaps the judiciary (in retaliation for the prosecution of Zuma on corruption charges)? Malema tries to skirt the issue vaguely stating that they (the ANCYL?) will kill those who try to undermine black majority rule. Malefane then points out that Zuma is being prosecuted under a black government. He then claims his comments is not related to the legal prosecution of Zuma but against the 'forces of darkness' who wish to portray the ANC leadership as 'the most corrupt people who will never lead any successful government' (cue Darth Vader breathing effect in the background here). Malefane: "Who are these forces?". In not answering her question Malema then uses a term that is fast becoming a pet hate of mine, claiming that he is talking about 'counter-revolutionary forces'. The latter term is becoming the preferred twin to labelling legitimate criticism of the Government or ANC as being racist.

- are you not inciting violence?
Interesting, in denying stoking up violence Malema employs another trick often used by politicians finding themselves in difficult corners of their own making. He starts using 'we' rather than 'I' or 'me'. Suddenly it is collective. 'No, no, we are not saying...'. Was Malema conveying official ANCYL policy, I hope not? I doubt it, although the Youth League of late is a strange animal.

And just as I'm thinking about the above, I press the play button for the rest of the interview and Malefane zooms in again with her next question:

- the statement that you made... ...did you canvas it within the ANC Youth League... that what the ANC Youth League believe...?
Then Malema goes back to talking about the 'revolution' and that the ANCYL has always said that it will pay the highest price to defend it. Probably quite true in content, but he's clearly uncomfortable with the question.

- give me an example of what would cause the Youth League to take up arms?
Malema tries to avoid answering, he can't really... He mumbles about 'no need'.

- but you can't put out a statement if there's no need? there a threat?
Malema is suddenly a little lame. The bravado is somewhat deflated now. In an almost apologetic tone he tries the old line: 'There's no threat... we are just saying to you... so committed to this revolution we can even die... and kill for it (sic)'. Now he's really burying himself, he actually said there is no threat! Why the great hooha?

- do you think your statement was responsible?
'Yes, very responsible...'. Sure. 'It's a revolutionary statement'. Oh, off course, now it all makes sense! Thank you comrade Malema, why didn't I see that all along!

At this point the interview meanders off into other topics. But Malefane is as sharp as before. When Malema claims they've put together a legal team that will approach the courts she wants to know if they have met with the team yet (they will be doing so on Thursday and will then announce the names). Further questions on the composition of the 'legal team' by Malefane leads to answers that leads a strong impression that the existence of such a team is somewhat questionable. The legal team will among other things try and convince the court that the case should be dropped because it may divide the country. That sounds like a strange legal argument to me, if enough people disapprove do we set aside the law for an individual?

And then, just as one thinks Melefane is going to say 'thank you and good bye' she pitches the clincher to a worn-down Malema:

- but Julius what happens in case this case is not dropped?
So what does 'Julius' say. We will attack the 'forces of the dark' and kill them? No, he says: "If the case is not dropped... will go through the court, the president will appear...".

Well done Moipone Malefane! The audio file follows below:

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Anton Harber on xenophobia coverage: The Star vs. The Daily Sun

Anton Harber, click here to visit his blogFor those readers who don't know this, Anton Harber is a former editor of the Mail & Guardian. Presently he is a professor at Wits University (Johannesburg) and directs the Journalism and Media Studies Programme.

Harber has a very insightful blog, The Harbinger, dealing mostly with current events in relation to how different media houses and outlets approach these issues. On June 13th he posted on the contrasts in media coverage of the 'recent' xenophobic attacks in South Africa, as evident in comparing The Star and The Daily Sun's coverage. These are off course two very different publications, the former a broadsheet aimed primarily at the middle & upper classes and the latter a typical working class, sensationalist, tabloid.

...It is easy to say which of these newspaper treatments makes us feel better about ourselves. The Star holds out hope that those who respond to humanitiarian needs outnumber those who partook of the violence or stood aside as it happened. It is tougher to say which newspaper offers the more accurate depiction of our society. More likely, the contrast between these two highlights the different worlds occupied by South Africans of different classes, with very different understandings of what happened in those few days in May. The Star’s is the view from the suburbs, from those only indirectly affected; the Daily Sun’s is the view from the townships and often from the perpetrators themselves...

The article makes for very interesting reading, you'll find it here.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'SADC election observers should go to Zimbabwe immediately'

Herewith, in full, a statement released on June 10 (2008) by the University of Pretoria Law Faculty's Centre for Human Rights.

Thanks to Pierre at Constitutionally Speaking from whom I picked up the story. It is encouraging that civil society is becoming more and more vocal in South Africa.

In all honesty, even if scores of observers are sent to Zimbabwe immediately it will be too late to provide the MDC with a reasonable chance to rally their supporters ahead of the presidential election scheduled for June 27, which is now only 15 days away. It may help to expose power abuses during the actual election and thereafter. But the bottom line is that South Africa and SADC have failed the people of Zimbabwe once again. One can only hope for a miracle come June 27...

SADC election observers should go to Zimbabwe immediately

Release date: 10 June 2008

The Centre for Human Rights, at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, calls on President Mwanawasa, in his capacity as Chairperson of SADC, and on President Mbeki, in his capacity as SADC mediator on Zimbabwe, to take all possible measures to ensure the immediate and extensive deployment of SADC observers in Zimbabwe.

It is encouraging that President Mbeki has already voiced his support for the deployment of SADC observers, and that he reminded member states to make the necessary resources available for this purpose. However, these observers should not focus primarily on monitoring the polls on voting day, but should be put in place as soon as possible to cover the period leading up to the elections and a reasonable period thereafter. These observers should also be representative of SADC as a whole.

An election is a process, consisting of three main phases: (1) the pre-election period; (2) the voting day itself; and (3) the period between voting and the release of results. If election observers focus on what happens on voting day only, the important determinants of a free and fair election prior to and after voting day would not be taken into account. At the moment, there are clear indications that the pre-election conditions are not only making a free and fair election impossible, but are skewed in favour of the candidacy of President Mugabe. Even if people are allowed to go to the polls on voting day, free and fair elections are impossible due to the harassment, arrest, detention and even disappearance of activists and leaders; restrictions on the media; and fear and intimidation of the population and non-governmental organisations.

According to SADC’s own ‘Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections’, the SADC election observation mission should be deployed ‘at least two weeks before the voting day’ (para 4.1.10). Under the specific circumstances prevailing in Zimbabwe, the ‘normal’ period of two weeks should be increased as much as possible. It is imperative that all efforts should be made to get as many observers into place, covering as extensive an area as possible, as soon as possible. The elections, scheduled to take place on 27 June, is just 16 days away. Observers should be on the ground now, and should stay at least until election results are announced.

Observers should insist on the full compliance with the SADC Principles and Guidelines, which includes the following:

  • The government must safeguard the human rights and adequate security of all stakeholders and parties (para 7.4; 7.5).
  • The observers must have unimpeded and unrestricted access to all polling stations and counting centres (para 7.19).

Once deployed, SADC observers must submit regular reports, so that matters requiring urgent attention may be dealt with by the appropriate SADC organ.

To ensure a credible election, as many observers as possible should be allowed into the country. Presidents Mwanawasa and Mbeki should insist that Zimbabwe allows other observers, in line with the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights’ ‘Resolution on the Forthcoming Run-off Election in Zimbabwe’, adopted in May at its 43rd ordinary session. In this resolution, the African Commission requests that the Zimbabwean government allows ‘both national and international election observers to observe the entire electoral process, so as to enhance the credibility of the electoral process, and acceptance of the results of the elections by all contesting parties’.

The Centre for Human Rights further urges Presidents Mwanawasa and Mbeki to exert all possible pressure on President Mugabe to halt violence, intimidation, and selective use of to law stifle opposition, and to abide by the SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and the Zimbabwean Constitution and Electoral Act.

For more detail, please contact: Frans Viljoen, Director of the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria,; tel: 012 4203228; cell: 073 393 4181

Monday, June 09, 2008

NY Times Blogging Heads: Is Racism Over?

I love the New York Times, although lately I've had very little time to indulge in it. On occasion I've noted a link to 'Bloggingheads', but 'till today never followed it. The Bloggingheads topic featured on the NY Times online edition today caught my attention and I took the leap. The format of Bloggingheads is mostly that of two participants, seen in a split video screen, discussing a topic via an internet video feed. It is non-moderated and free flowing.

(The Bloggingheads video follows lower down. The video may not be visible if you're reading this post outside of my blog).

Is Racism Over (in US Politics)?
In this 'edition' of Bloggingheads two (black) academics discuss the Obama-Clinton primary race, which has since concluded. In one or two of the states that Hillary Clinton took, race seemingly played a decisive issue in voters' minds. Simply put white voters voted for the white candidate. Does this support the notion that racism is still very much active in American politics or is there a more complex explanation? This kind of discussion can off-course be very gloomy and dark. However, the two academics paint a very interesting and nuanced picture. One which gives hope that non-racialism may have taken a few steps forward in the States.

Their discussion is also one which in my view looks at racism from different angles, not simply white on black. A very refreshing aspect, which is sorely lacking - although not totally absent - in South African deliberation on this very important matter. Their analysis goes where few discussions tend to, that is to a place where you also take a critical look at the validity of ideas which would normally be used to defend your own 'position'. I'm going to be keeping an eye out for these two guys, it's worth the trouble!

By the way, the 'two guys' are John McWhorter of the Manhattan Institute and Glenn Loury of Brown University.

Will the presidential election results reflect on racism in the US?
If Barack Obama gets elected as the next US President there will off-course be a very strong argument that America has indeed come a very long way in how it views race. His winning of the Democratic ticket is that already, although we are dealing with the more progressive of the two dominating political parties. One can also argue that in the popular vote, i.e. even more so than in the delegate count, things turned out very evenly for the two Democrats. Thus, for argument's sake, if virtually all Republicans and independents voted for McCain and a large portion of Clinton's supports did the same Obama will end up short by a country mile. That will off-course not automatically signal racist convictions amongst voters. It may be a genuine conviction amongst voters that McCain stands for better policy and is a better leader (not my conviction). A better explanation will probably be that America is still in the hold of politics of fear. But should Obama win the presidential race, and at this stage it seems there is no reason why he couldn't, surely it has to say something about a changing America - at least in as far as racism is concerned?

Obama on racism
It was unavoidable that the topic of race would surface somewhere in the primary race, as it did. Obama handled the issue, I believe, with exceptional well phrased candour and grace. If you missed THE speech on racism, by Obama, during the primaries read the post I wrote on it here (YouTube video of full speech included).

The Bloggingheads video
The very interesting section of the McWhorter & Loury discussion (approx. 6-min) featured on the NY Times' website follows directly below (you'll need a broadband link to watch this).

To view the full discussion, which I recommend, click here (It intro's with a bit of personal banter before diving into deep water - running time = approx. 45-min).