Thursday, February 09, 2006

Debating in Cecilasia

The Debating Club of Cecilasia last night unanimously supported movers Ainly Smythe and Biffy Duped in their claim that "Idi Amin is the typical African." The main obstacle in an otherwise exciting debate was the refusal by the opposers, Mr. S____ and Mr. P_____, to speak against the motion.

Mr. Ainly Smythe made the most telling point of the evening when he said, "A people is like their leader." Just as Adolph was the average German and Benito the normal Italian, so is Idi representative of your houseboy." Mr. Smythe went on to say that he personally felt grateful to Brother Idi for showing us the African's personality so clearly.

Applauding the statement loudly Mr Duped moved that the Club forward a letter of appreciation to "one who has done more than any other to show us where we stand and the purity of our natures." The additional motion was also unanimously passed, and the opposer, Mr. S____, was heard to remark that he hoped to have better than to be chosen in the lottery to oppose the meeting's next motion.

I wrote this about 33 years ago, during the height of Smith's Rhodesia. Duped is Clifford Dupont, and Smythe Ian Smith. I remember the atmosphere in which opposition to the government appeared as treason. The irony of history has replaced the names of Smith and Dupont with Mugabe and Mutasa. In our own ways we sometimes stifle disagreement in the USA and in Canada.

Reaction in the Arab world to a domestic dispute about how Muslims should integrate into Danish society suggests that human nature across time and space remains constant: We find it hard to accept that we might be wrong and someone else right. But a soupcon of humility is necessary for us to know the truth. Perhaps we should hope that we are chosen in life's lottery to speak out, although I echo Mr. S_____'s desire not to be so chosen.

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