Friday, July 4, 2008

Idi Amin is alive and well in Zimbabwe

The recently elected (by default) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe says he is open to talks on ending the country's political crisis, provided the opposition accepts him as leader.
"I am the president," he said. "Everybody has to accept that if they want dialogue."

"Opposition must accept Mugabe." So reads the headline on the BBC website today.

My headline is a tad more provocative, even scandalous, some might say.

His way or the highway. Where have we heard that before? Mussolini, Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and Hu Jintao to name a few. All military leaders who would see their countries destroyed and their people killed rather than admit defeat, dialogue or compromise.

Recently, I was going to take a tour around the fabulous island of NY when I came upon a demonstration right near the Chinese Embassy downtown. I enquired of one of NY's finest as to the guidelines, etc for hosting such protests. I was enlightened and glad to know that under their guidelines, pretty much anyone can hold a protest if they follow the appropriate permit process. God bless America.

Having lived in Salt Lake City during the Olympics, we too, as an administration had to grapple with free speech. Barriers were erected to create a designated free speech zone, and postcards disseminated with quotes from Dr. King and Gandhi regarding non-violent opposition under the capable leadership of one of the finest men whom I know, the amazing civil rights attorney - Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson. It was a privilege to be his political appointee for over 5 years.

I for one, am not going to watch a single Olympic event this summer. I stopped watching a Wimbledon match yesterday with a Chinese player. I know it is not her fault - she is an innocent pawn - a bystander, but we have to take a stand somewhere. In fact, I am making a conscious effort not to purchase anything from China if I can at all help it. Beware you Marshall's and TJ Maxx shoppers - those are my two favorite stores - most of their home goods are made in China. I am not entirely sure how it happened that China is allowed to host the Olympics given their human rights violations - Tianenman Square and Tibet come to mind. This should not stand and we should not let it. If we all stopped purchasing their goods, they might be forced to take a look at their human rights record and make some changes. Look at what happened in South Africa?

Anything is possible.

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