Quote of the week

[Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro] possesses, however, few of his predecessor’s resources, lacking not just oil revenue but Chávez’s surplus of charisma, humour and political skill. Maduro, unable to end the crisis, has increasingly sided with the privileged classes against the masses; his security forces are regularly dispatched into barrios to repress militants under the guise of fighting crime. Having lost its majority in Congress, the government, fearing it can’t win at the polls the way Chávez did, cancelled gubernatorial elections that had been set for December last year (though they now appear to be on again). Maduro has convened an assembly to write a new constitution, supposedly with the objective of institutionalising the power of social movements, though it is unlikely to lessen the country’s polarisation.

Greg Grandin
London Review of Books
2 May 2007

"Proteas lost because of prejudice, not affirmative action"

Steven Friedman’s column in today’s Business Day will get many people hot under the collar. He argues that racist prejudice, not affirmative action, was partly to blame for the woeful performance of the Proteas at the Cricket World Cup. Monet quote:

The problem, white former players tell us, is that our team is not chosen on merit. They are right. Racial bias does hobble our cricketing progress. But the problem is not the measures designed to give black players a chance. It is prejudice that assumes, instinctively, that competence is something whites have and blacks must prove they have.

Those who doubt that South African team selection is still heavily influenced by this prejudice need to consider these questions: Why was Makhaya Ntini, the third-highest international wickettaker in our history, dropped for our first World Cup match played on a pitch which suited his bowling?

I agree with Friedman’s broader point about black people having to show competence while competence is assumed in whites. Why else would otherwise reasonably intelligent people choose Graham Smith – a petulant, overweight, insecure bully – as the Protea captain? Don’t want to sound like my mother, but the fact that he continuously chews gum on the pitch just adds insult to injury. The selectors should do some affirmative firing and send him packing.
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