My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The London Guardian reports this morning about a country where the most popular political interviewer was fired from his job at a TV station because of pressure from the President of the country. Fort the liberals and the opposition this was a shocking event, but part of a pattern. They argue that the country’s
Democracy is increasingly at risk. Secret police files and wiretaps are being used to discredit or intimidate opponents. Public TV have been purged of pluralism. A new anti-corruption body enjoys draconian powers of investigation and arrest and is being wielded as a political club.
An editor even warns of a creeping coup d’etat.
The country is, of course,
Why don’t we focus on the free press – remember unlike
If the TAC could force the government to change its policies on ARV’s, then surely if we organize and resist, if we are prepared to do the hard work, we will be able to overcome Mbeki – no matter how malicious or revengeful he becomes and no matter how mad his actions seem to become.
Why then are we all so alarmed? Yes, it is of course deeply troubling if the President of a country starts believing he is the state and the law and starts acting accordingly. And yes we do have a special place in our hearts for our special constitution – the symbol of our new democracy. We therefore need to make a great noise when this symbol of our democracy is being abused.
But perhaps we are even more hysterical than we need to be because we – the elites, the chattering classes, the journalists – we do not trust the voters and the ordinary members of the ANC to be on our side. Don’t we worry at least a little that racial solidarity and struggle solidarity will keep the masses of our people safely at home when the time comes to protest against our government?
President Thabo Mbeki often points to the fact that the ANC keeps winning elections with a larger percentage of the vote (but he does not say that each election fewer voters actually vote for the ANC) to shut up his critics. We can do what we want because we have the people with us, is his attitude.
The problem is that people do not vote for President Mbeki because he illegally fires the National Director of Public Prosecutions or because he questions the link between HIV and AIDS. They vote for him because he is the leader of the ANC, which is the leader of the liberation movement.
All the hysteria around Thabo Mbeki is also, I would suggest, based at least partly on a fear by the chattering classes that the people are stupid and will wake up too late – yes, like in Zimbabwe – and that without the people on our side our beautiful constitution and our free press and our independent judiciary wont help us much.
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