Next time you find yourself feeling too good, or too smug, about America and how morally righteous we are, think about this story.
Last week our secretary of state, John Kerry, went to Egypt and sung the praises of the new government (what’ve there been, four since the Arab Spring three years ago?), tossing around words like “freedom” and “democracy” like so many coins in a fountain.
Then this happened: Three journalists, all accused of helping a Muslim Brotherhood protest rally, sentenced to seven to 10 years in prison, on the most bullshit charges you can ever imagine.
Read this story in the N.Y. Times, about the disgusting treatment of these three professionals who did nothing wrong, and then go ahead and see how much Egypt gives a damn about democracy and freedom. Mohamed Fahmy, a Canadian citizen of Egyptian descent, is one of the reporters sentenced. Peter Greste, an Australian, previously worked for the BBC and had spent only a few days in Egypt at the time of his arrest; and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, who previously worked for a Japanese news organization, The Asahi Shimbun, are the others.
None of them did a thing wrong. This story pissed me off so much, yes, probably because I’m a former journalist who loves and admires reporters so much.
I’m glad to see there’s some international outrage about it; there ought to be a hell of a lot more.
**Next up, saw this on a friend’s Facebook page this week and was wildly impressed: A then 6-year-old kid named Avery Molek gives us a kick-ass rendition of “Welcome to the Jungle” on the drums. You go, future Axl Rose impersanator! Here’s the child prodigy’s website if you want to hear more bad-assery. **Finally today, I don’t think I’ve ever had two South Africa-related posts in the same year on my blog, but here ya go. After yesterday’s post on Rodriguez, the star of “Searching for Sugar Man,” who is a huge hero in South Africa, comes this story I read Monday that floored me. It’s about a much darker side of South Africa’s past: apartheid.
From Eve Fairbanks of newrepublic.com, it’s the story of a 68-year-old man named Adriaan Vlok (left, above), who was a vicious police chief during the apartheid era, and how he’s now trying to make up for some of his crimes: By washing the feet of the black men he wronged.
So much about South Africa’s last 20 years, since the end of apartheid, has been agonizing, as the present tries to reconcile its past, and this desperate longing of one man to save his soul, as it were, is fascinating.
One of the most interesting stories I’ve read this year, and the ending just stunned me. Definitely worth the 15 minutes of your time.