Tags: history

Silly - Dirty Face

Papa Stop the War

Hearken the voice of reason. Racial venom is like social dynamite.

I've been doing some writing about the last days of apartheid, so far mostly for myself but hopefully some will be sharable. In the process I've been rewatching some movies on the subject and listening to music from the time. I was rewatching, Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony and it took me right back to those times.

It also reminded me of an example of music from South Africa that was popular toward the end of apartheid, a plea for sanity and an end to the cycle of violence. Scenes of men preparing for battle were censored by the government controlled media. I remember loving this song. It is performed by Chico (Sello Twala), but features the voice and english poetry (see below) of The People's Poet, Mzwake Mbuli.

Mbuli started with anti-apartheid protest poetry at Trade Union events and was repeatedly detained by the authorities and his music and albums banned. He persisted at great personal risk, becoming a popular hero of the revolution. He continues to speak for the people today, highlighting issues like HIV and AIDS, political violence and corruption.



Papa Stop the War
Listen to the voice of reason
Words of wisdom have to be ushered
A better world has to be built
Listen to the voice of reason
Now is the time
To unchain the minds
Now is the time
To unchain the hearts
Images of a new dream
Images of a new society
Should emerge
Hearken the voice of reason
Racial venom is like social dynamite
It is like a revival of a perilous syndrome
A syndrome of death and destruction
This is the voice of concern
A voice of social redemption
An eye for an eye makes the world blinded
reconciliation and reconstruction
Is like a dark cloud
Giving way to the blue sky
Human kind must put an end to war
Or war will put an end to human kind
Africa and the world
Cannot afford self pity
If something is not worth living for
It is not worth dying for
Yes this is the voice of reason
In search of liberty
Eternal
Human kind think positive
Choose life not death
This is the voice of reason
That shakes the conscience of human kind
That was the voice of reason
Silly - Dirty Face

Looking Back Into the Shadows

Image of crime scene tape"Get the f*ck away from my car!" the driver shouted at me.
I pointed to his flat rear tire, "I just-"
"Dude, get the f*ck away from my car!" All I could see of him and his passenger were their eyes. The car had tinted windows and he'd opened them just a crack. I shrugged and went on my way, initially perplexed and a bit disturbed by the driver's unexpected rudeness.

After I had a chance to think about it, it's my own behavior and naiveté that perplexes me. This was a car with tinted windows that had pulled into a corner of my apartment complex parking lot and then parked there awhile with the engine running. I'd noticed this sort of thing in the past and thought nothing of it, thinking maybe they were simply lost or picking someone up.

If I'd thought about it for more than just a moment then things would have been clearer. The initial signs were admittedly subtle, but they were there and the odds were decent that these characters were up to no good... and I should have seen that. I should also have immediately noticed that the driver was not being rude, he was being threatening. He did not want me getting close enough to witness whatever they were up to and his overreaction should have all but confirmed the suspicions I should have had.

Just when did I stop seeing the obvious warning signs of criminal activity? Somewhere along the line since moving to "safe" Portland, I changed from a street-smart big city boy to a someone no longer looking out for signs of trouble... no, not just trouble, real danger. You feel safe here, but crime should never be forgotten because it is all too often accompanied by violence.

Truth be told, while I'm a bit pissed off at myself at how soft I've become, I'm also grateful to be living in such a relatively safe city. But safe and relatively safe are not the same thing and this incident left me reflective about my own bad old days living in a high crime area.

Me in my early 20s in HillbrowThere was a time that I lived in the dangerous neighborhood of Hillbrow, back when the city of Johannesburg was claimed to be the crime capital of the world... and the Hillbrow suburb was the crime capital of Johannesburg. Ranking dangerous cities is a guessing game at best and mostly just lies, damned lies and statistics. Johannesburg remains a dangerous place, and these days I see that Joburg is only ranked 50th in the world, behind three other SA cities. I find those numbers to be dubious, just as I did back in the 80s and 90s when they said we were the worst.

Even so, it was bad back then, really bad. To remain unscathed you had to have good instincts and solid street-smarts, and eyes in the back of your head. As a white guy in a mostly black neighborhood I was a target. This was not racism, this was simple practicality. Due to the legacy of apartheid and the enforced poverty of black South Africans, it was simply logical that white people were most likely to have more of value to steal. That means more cash, credit cards, nicer watches and jewelry, etc.

I remain deeply grateful that I stuck it out and was living in this mostly black neighborhood at the time of our first democratic elections. My ex wife and I were just two of maybe a hundred other white South Africans to join the huge street party of hundreds of thousands that spontaneously erupted onto the streets of Hillbrow after Mandela was announced as our first democratically elected president. That was an unforgettable once in a lifetime experience that I still greatly cherish, but it came at a price, and that price was living with intolerably high crime rates.

This crime was the product of extreme poverty and an apartheid government that saw only crime in white areas as a priority, neglecting the safety of all others. Crime was rampant in black areas, but we whites were so insulated from it that many ignorantly still believe to this day that the crime wave only came with the change of government.

Hillbrow by nightI saw my neighborhood of Hillbrow change from a whites-only neighborhood to a 95% black neighborhood over a period of time when the apartheid laws forbade mixed neighborhoods. Initially only the most desperate of the poor took the chance of moving into our concrete jungle. The apartheid government saw the high-rises of Hillbrow as an antidote to their own neglect of the needs of those they oppressed and so mostly turned a blind eye to it all, mostly declining to charge or evict these people. The more they did this the more word spread and the faster this migration to Hillbrow became.

What it ended up doing was ensuring that for the most part only the poorest and most desperate moved to Hillbrow, and the tsotsis (criminals) who had been left to run rampant in the townships were among the first to make the move to these richer feeding grounds. People I knew who lived in Soweto and Alexandria told me that life there had become so much safer since all the tsotsis had moved to Hillbrow.

This didn't happen overnight, but rather snuck up on us. We accepted it as reality one new danger at a time, like the parable of the frog in a a pot of water not jumping to safety if the pot is brought to the boil slowly enough. If it had all happened at once then most of us would have left in a hurry, but after we finally moved out we were left wondering how it was that we'd put up with that much crime for so long and we were unable to answer the question of why we had not moved sooner.

Just before I moved out of Hillbrow it had become intolerable. We heard gunshots most nights, often several times a night. We regularly saw people mugged on the streets and other violent confrontations, sometimes from our balcony. Break-ins became common and countermeasures were ramped up as a result; buildings added automated security, barbed wire, security bars on windows, steel security gates on doors, building night watchmen, armed response security guards and so on.

Walking the streets required confidence and awareness. You had to see the bad guys and you had to act in ways that deterred them before they thought of attacking you. Most times, the simple act of letting muggers know that you're watching them by looking them in the eye is enough to deter them because they prefer the element of surprise.

You needed to avoid getting trapped in an alley or other out-of-view spot, meaning you often walked in the street rather than on the pavement (sidewalk). You made sure you had no visible valuables to draw muggers like sharks to chum. You carried as little as possible, to reduce both risk and potential loss. If you had to carry cash then you hid it in several different places, leaving one or two bills for the muggers to find easily, because if they found nothing then their disappointment often turned into violent retaliation.

That and all the other signs of a society in disarray, hookers and pimps, widespread homelessness, runaways, police corruption, widespread drug use and dug dealers on every corner, and the feared car hijackings. Murder rates were horrifying, rape rates were even worse. Even after the end of apartheid things continued to decline in the face of massive urbanization, an influx of millions of illegal immigrants and crime cartels from around the world, and the new government's decision to release both the guilty and the innocent from jails because they had almost never received fair trials under the old racist system.

A photo of my South African houseWe eventually fled Hillbrow for the suburbs, spurred by the second time I managed to dodge a four-man gang of muggers, along with all the other crime horrors we could no longer accept. A month after we moved, one of our former neighbors was murdered during a car hijacking as he exited the building parking lot. The question was never why did we move, it was what took us so long?

Even so, the suburbs were safer, but not safe. Homes became fortresses, with alarm systems and armed response units a required deterrent. Rampant hijackings meant getting into and out of your car required care and speed. South Africa was for a time a world leader in home and car security systems and the tech we had twenty five years ago still far exceeds anything I've seen in the US to this day. The brutality apartheid had bred into us meant that violence was all too common and retaliations equally harsh. We are the society that bred such deterrents as the anti-rape 'tampon' that would slice off part of a rapist's penis (see a photo here), a female-condom-like device bristling with internal hooks designed to snare rapists (see a video here), not to mention the anti-hijacking flamethrower option for your car (see a video here).

My hard won instincts from those years initially saw me laugh at what Americans considered crime-ridden cities. My first US city was "notorious" Detroit, where locals actually apologized to me for their "dangerous" home city being my first US experience. This made me laugh because there was less crime in my entire 4.5 moths in Detroit than I'd have seen in a day in Hillbrow, or even in a week after I'd left Hillbrow.

Yet somewhere between then and now I lost those self-protective instincts and became... soft. My inner good samaritan has always been strong... but he can be stupid, so very stupid. It has in the past gotten me into situations where I can't win and other times into situations where I'm in some danger. I'm miffed at my dulled senses, but also grateful that I don't much need them anymore. This is a wonderful city full of gentle souls and kindness and I'm lucky to have found it.

Except of course now some criminal asshole has taken to using my apartment complex lot for his shenanigans, and he threatened me. But he was an idiot. The only way he could have made it clearer to me that he was an undesirable was if I'd seen it happen, so I'll be keeping an eye out for him and reporting him to the cops if I need to. Maybe I just have to relearn some of my own ways if I want to keep my new home safe and stop those memories from creeping out of the shadows of memory and becoming real again.

No more frog in a pot syndrome. My eyes need to at least be open.



P.S. Hover your cursor over any of the images if you want to see a caption. More visible captioning of embedded images with LJ is hard.
Silly - Dirty Face

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising 06b.jpgMy calendar tells me today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, which occurs on the anniversary of the start of the 1943 uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto. I grew up in an extremely conservative country (South Africa) where antisemitism was rife amidst all the other prejudices found under apartheid, and where so many people were somehow able to happily live with the contradiction of being holocaust deniers while also regularly wishing aloud that Hitler had done a better job... and regularly reminded me of both views.

Most of my mother's family did not survive WWII. After many years of searching, my grandfather found only one distant cousin after the war, and he was the only relative they had found too. The rest of their large Europe-wide family were all murdered.

My calendar reminder has got me thinking of all of them and their descendants... never to be born.
Silly - Dirty Face

"I am prepared to die."

On this day back in 1964, before my mother had any children, Nelson Mandela gave a famous speech from the dock to open his defense during the Rivonia treason Trial, the trial that sent him to jail and made him the world's most famous political prisoner. Few South Africans were allowed to hear his speech. It started like this:
I am the First Accused.

I hold a Bachelor's Degree in Arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for a number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961.

At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion made by the State in its opening that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect. I have done whatever I did, both as an individual and as a leader of my people, because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said.

In my youth in the Transkei I listened to the elders of my tribe telling stories of the old days. Amongst the tales they related to me were those of wars fought by our ancestors in defence of the fatherland. The names of Dingane and Bambata, Hintsa and Makana, Squngthi and Dalasile, Moshoeshoe and Sekhukhuni, were praised as the glory of the entire African nation. I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle. This is what has motivated me in all that I have done in relation to the charges made against me in this case.

It's a pretty fascinating speech, one I was only able to read after apartheid's end. Remember that English was not his first, or even second language, though it didn't affect his eloquence.

It's a long and honest speech. He never denies his, "guilt," only explains why his actions were necessary. It's well worth a read, and I believe it should be mandatory reading for all South Africans. For white South Africans schooled with apartheid propaganda it will reveal a very different and far more accurate representation of our history than they have been exposed to, and will reveal many entrenched lies that they still believe. For others, including my American friends, it may remind them of the failings of their own current education system.

When Mandela made this speech he fully expected to be executed and indeed the statement is usually referred to using the words, "prepared to die," which he proclaimed in this speech -- something like, "In his prepared-to-die speech." Some say that Mandela was spared to avoid creating a martyr, but others feel that this speech moved the judge. I'd say the former was more likely.

His statement ended with this simple, but emphatic description of just what he was fighting against:
Our fight is against real, and not imaginary, hardships or, to use the language of the State Prosecutor, 'so-called hardships'. Basically, we fight against two features which are the hallmarks of African life in South Africa and which are entrenched by legislation which we seek to have repealed. These features are poverty and lack of human dignity, and we do not need communists or so-called 'agitators' to teach us about these things.

South Africa is the richest country in Africa, and could be one of the richest countries in the world. But it is a land of extremes and remarkable contrasts. The whites enjoy what may well be the highest standard of living in the world, whilst Africans live in poverty and misery. Forty per cent of the Africans live in hopelessly overcrowded and, in some cases, drought-stricken Reserves, where soil erosion and the overworking of the soil makes it impossible for them to live properly off the land. Thirty per cent are labourers, labour tenants, and squatters on white farms and work and live under conditions similar to those of the serfs of the Middle Ages. The other 30 per cent live in towns where they have developed economic and social habits which bring them closer in many respects to white standards. Yet most Africans, even in this group, are impoverished by low incomes and high cost of living.

The highest-paid and the most prosperous section of urban African life is in Johannesburg. Yet their actual position is desperate. The latest figures were given on 25 March 1964 by Mr. Carr, Manager of the Johannesburg Non-European Affairs Department. The poverty datum line for the average African family in Johannesburg (according to Mr. Carr's department) is R42.84 per month. He showed that the average monthly wage is R32.24 and that 46 per cent of all African families in Johannesburg do not earn enough to keep them going.

Poverty goes hand in hand with malnutrition and disease. The incidence of malnutrition and deficiency diseases is very high amongst Africans. Tuberculosis, pellagra, kwashiorkor, gastro-enteritis, and scurvy bring death and destruction of health. The incidence of infant mortality is one of the highest in the world. According to the Medical Officer of Health for Pretoria, tuberculosis kills forty people a day (almost all Africans), and in 1961 there were 58,491 new cases reported. These diseases not only destroy the vital organs of the body, but they result in retarded mental conditions and lack of initiative, and reduce powers of concentration. The secondary results of such conditions affect the whole community and the standard of work performed by African labourers.

The complaint of Africans, however, is not only that they are poor and the whites are rich, but that the laws which are made by the whites are designed to preserve this situation. There are two ways to break out of poverty. The first is by formal education, and the second is by the worker acquiring a greater skill at his work and thus higher wages. As far as Africans are concerned, both these avenues of advancement are deliberately curtailed by legislation.

The present Government has always sought to hamper Africans in their search for education. One of their early acts, after coming into power, was to stop subsidies for African school feeding. Many African children who attended schools depended on this supplement to their diet. This was a cruel act.

There is compulsory education for all white children at virtually no cost to their parents, be they rich or poor. Similar facilities are not provided for the African children, though there are some who receive such assistance. African children, however, generally have to pay more for their schooling than whites. According to figures quoted by the South African Institute of Race Relations in its 1963 journal, approximately 40 per cent of African children in the age group between seven to fourteen do not attend school. For those who do attend school, the standards are vastly different from those afforded to white children. In 1960-61 the per capita Government spending on African students at State-aided schools was estimated at R12.46. In the same years, the per capita spending on white children in the Cape Province (which are the only figures available to me) was R144.57. Although there are no figures available to me, it can be stated, without doubt, that the white children on whom R144.57 per head was being spent all came from wealthier homes than African children on whom R12.46 per head was being spent.

The quality of education is also different. According to the Bantu Educational Journal, only 5,660 African children in the whole of South Africa passed their Junior Certificate in 1962, and in that year only 362 passed matric. This is presumably consistent with the policy of Bantu education about which the present Prime Minister said, during the debate on the Bantu Education Bill in 1953:

"When I have control of Native education I will reform it so that Natives will be taught from childhood to realize that equality with Europeans is not for them . . . People who believe in equality are not desirable teachers for Natives. When my Department controls Native education it will know for what class of higher education a Native is fitted, and whether he will have a chance in life to use his knowledge."

The other main obstacle to the economic advancement of the African is the industrial colour-bar under which all the better jobs of industry are reserved for Whites only. Moreover, Africans who do obtain employment in the unskilled and semi-skilled occupations which are open to them are not allowed to form trade unions which have recognition under the Industrial Conciliation Act. This means that strikes of African workers are illegal, and that they are denied the right of collective bargaining which is permitted to the better-paid White workers. The discrimination in the policy of successive South African Governments towards African workers is demonstrated by the so-called 'civilized labour policy' under which sheltered, unskilled Government jobs are found for those white workers who cannot make the grade in industry, at wages which far exceed the earnings of the average African employee in industry.

The Government often answers its critics by saying that Africans in South Africa are economically better off than the inhabitants of the other countries in Africa. I do not know whether this statement is true and doubt whether any comparison can be made without having regard to the cost-of-living index in such countries. But even if it is true, as far as the African people are concerned it is irrelevant. Our complaint is not that we are poor by comparison with people in other countries, but that we are poor by comparison with the white people in our own country, and that we are prevented by legislation from altering this imbalance.

The lack of human dignity experienced by Africans is the direct result of the policy of white supremacy. White supremacy implies black inferiority. Legislation designed to preserve white supremacy entrenches this notion. Menial tasks in South Africa are invariably performed by Africans. When anything has to be carried or cleaned the white man will look around for an African to do it for him, whether the African is employed by him or not. Because of this sort of attitude, whites tend to regard Africans as a separate breed. They do not look upon them as people with families of their own; they do not realize that they have emotions - that they fall in love like white people do; that they want to be with their wives and children like white people want to be with theirs; that they want to earn enough money to support their families properly, to feed and clothe them and send them to school. And what 'house-boy' or 'garden-boy' or labourer can ever hope to do this?

Pass laws, which to the Africans are among the most hated bits of legislation in South Africa, render any African liable to police surveillance at any time. I doubt whether there is a single African male in South Africa who has not at some stage had a brush with the police over his pass. Hundreds and thousands of Africans are thrown into jail each year under pass laws. Even worse than this is the fact that pass laws keep husband and wife apart and lead to the breakdown of family life.

Poverty and the breakdown of family life have secondary effects. Children wander about the streets of the townships because they have no schools to go to, or no money to enable them to go to school, or no parents at home to see that they go to school, because both parents (if there be two) have to work to keep the family alive. This leads to a breakdown in moral standards, to an alarming rise in illegitimacy, and to growing violence which erupts not only politically, but everywhere. Life in the townships is dangerous. There is not a day that goes by without somebody being stabbed or assaulted. And violence is carried out of the townships in the white living areas. People are afraid to walk alone in the streets after dark. Housebreakings and robberies are increasing, despite the fact that the death sentence can now be imposed for such offences. Death sentences cannot cure the festering sore.

Africans want to be paid a living wage. Africans want to perform work which they are capable of doing, and not work which the Government declares them to be capable of. Africans want to be allowed to live where they obtain work, and not be endorsed out of an area because they were not born there. Africans want to be allowed to own land in places where they work, and not to be obliged to live in rented houses which they can never call their own. Africans want to be part of the general population, and not confined to living in their own ghettoes. African men want to have their wives and children to live with them where they work, and not be forced into an unnatural existence in men's hostels. African women want to be with their menfolk and not be left permanently widowed in the Reserves. Africans want to be allowed out after eleven o'clock at night and not to be confined to their rooms like little children. Africans want to be allowed to travel in their own country and to seek work where they want to and not where the Labour Bureau tells them to. Africans want a just share in the whole of South Africa; they want security and a stake in society.

Above all, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy.

But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs it will not change that policy.

This then is what the ANC is fighting. Their struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by their own suffering and their own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live.

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.
Silly - Dirty Face

The Other Man on the Podium

Today is December 10, the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In honor of this, many have decided to blog for human rights, and I had a story I wanted to draw attention to anyway. It's the story of a forgotten man.

Most of us know the story of the two African American athletes (Tommie Smith and John Carlos) who stood on the podium during the 1968 Mexico Olympics and raised black-gloved fists in protest against racial inequality in the US. The photo of the event has become almost iconic. The two men paid a great personal price, but were later vindicated and recognized for their courage. We know their story, but there were three men on that podium. What happened to the third man? Was his life affected?

The other man was the silver medalist, a laid-back Australian called Peter Norman who broke up the expected American clean sweep of the 200m medals. He pulled himself up from nothing and even broke a world record at those games. But it all fell apart for him on that day.

On hearing his fellow medalist's plans and reasoning, he elected to participate in the protest. His conscience permitted nothing else. He wore a patch in support and it was he who suggested that they share a pair of gloves, after one of them forgot his pair (in the photo, you might notice they wear opposite gloves).

The consequences for this Australian were severe. He was ostracized by the Australian team and never again selected for their Olympic team, even though he was a great sprinter. His career was over and his life fell apart and descended into depression, divorce and drink. Then in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics he hoped for some recognition, some reconciliation with his own nation, some final vindication. Instead Australia recognized every home medalist except him, despite the fact that his 200m Australian record still stood (and still does). While the other two men were now heroes, he remained a villain, his courage and conviction still vilified.

It fell to the US team to snub the snub and they did so, inviting Peter to stay with them during the games. He was greeted by Ed Moses and that year's 200m champion Michael Johnson, who hugged him and said, "You are my hero." It is a blessing that he at least had this consolation.

Peter's nephew Matt is a filmaker and has made documentary called Salute about that day and the events surrounding it and many of Peter's fellow Australians have learned a little bit about a local hero who died (2006) while still regarded as a villain by his own nation. During the documentary, for the first time, all three athletes were brought together in a room to tell their story. I hope to see it some time (please tell me if you see it on in PDX).

There are many such forgotten heroes in history. For every Rosa Parks there are hundreds who sat forgotten in Jail. And there are many who went against "their own people" and payed the price, sometimes the ultimate price, and then slipped forgotten through the fingers of history. I think these unknown soldiers play an important part in bringing about change. We should have a day to honor them, a day when we dig up these old stories (where we can) and put them back in the sunlight where they belong.

San Jose State University put up a statue commemorating the protest and they left Peter's podium spot empty, intending for others viewing the statue to "take a stand" and that is the spot visitors stand in when having their photo taken. When tested, may we all have the courage to stand in Peter's spot.


There's more at this BBC story and this Wikipedia article.

EDIT: Coolness! Matt Norman, the Director/Producer of Salute The Movie stopped by and added a comment to this post to thank all of us on the thread for our comments. He also pointed us to some links, including a link to their YouTube account which features a trailer. I'm glad we could brighten his day too.
Silly - Dirty Face

Historic Rambling

On this day, February 2nd, back in 1990, President FW De Klerk dismantled apartheid in South Africa. Aside from the dumping of the despicable and idiotic, racist laws, he also unbanned the ANC and others, allowing active opposition to apartheid for the first time in his party's history. He committed his government to releasing Nelson Mandela from jail, suspended the death penalty and allowed far greater freedom of the press.

A good day and one I'll never forget, in particular because I got to see one particularly rancid racist squirm as the news was first spreading across the office. I was glad he was white because the range of colors his face went through inside of 60-seconds might have been a record, and certainly qualified him to be called colored.

A few days later the Soviet Union collapsed (only 8 days after Moscow's first McDonald's opened) and the timing was perfect as it weakened the influence of the Communists (SACP) in the freedom movement and would pave the way for more intelligent approaches to government in the new South Africa.

A few days later on the 11th of February, Mandela was released from prison after 27 years of incarceration, less than a month after Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor in the US.

The following month, Namibia (South West Africa) became independent after 75 years of South African rule. Here in the US, Bush senior posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to Jesse Owens, the man who had scuppered Hitler's delusional dream of using the Olympics to prove Aryan superiority.

Then, in April, Discovery put the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

Good times for progressives. We need another little spell like that.