Thursday, January 14, 2010

What South Africans Are Thinking ... Is Scary

I was going to link to a story from the Johannesburg Times on how the United States ambassador to South Africa said that Americans understand that Africa is not one country.

Well, I suppose I will do it, anyway.

It's a short story, and the gist of it? That Americans won't jump to a conclusion that Togo's soccer team getting shot up in Angola means terror is due to break out in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup, as well.

But what I found more interesting were the comments posted on the story.

What makes them interesting?

There's the anti-Americanism, of course. The whole "they know nothing about geography" thing, which no one would dispute. Though I would guess we would discover that lots and lots of people in the world have no idea where much of anything is outside their own country, too.

But more telling -- even if we take into account the contentiousness endemic among people who post comments on websites -- is the byplay/interplay between what are clearly African and European-African commenters. It is fascinating. In a disturbing sort of way.

This was a country that, the movie "Invictus" would have us believe (as well as the generic South African tourist-board line of patter) ... that blacks and whites settled their differences in the country 15 years ago ... or at least after the South African rugby team won the 1995 world championship.

Yet, here we have insults flying, many of them along race lines. There are charges of continued apartheid, of ignorance among black South Africans. The black president is called a village idiot.

Shortly, it is the sort of "look under the scab" sort of thing that isn't uplifting. But certainly is informing. Have a look.

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