Monday, July 12, 2010

Nelson Mandela

It was great to see him at the World Cup final yesterday, being driven around the periphery of the football stadium, frail now, but still showing that beautiful smile he has.

Whenever I see him I'm immediately reminded of the many End-Apartheid demonstrations that occurred around town in the late 1980's, such as this one I photographed from the balcony of the Student Union Building at UC Berkeley:

I was working at the University intermittently in the 80's, and thus attended several demo's, which conveniently took place mainly at lunchtime. They were colorful and effective in a way that none have been since: in this case the University administration was eventually persuaded to divest its South African investments. And they were also part of larger international movement, one big highlight of which was the fabulous rock concert at Wembley Stadium in 1987.

It's painful that political demonstrations in the two decades since then have been completely ineffectual. It looked like the nation-wide End-the-War-in-Iraq campaign was finally gaining some momentum in 2007--shameful, when you think that war had been continuing for four years before a significant number of Americans finally took to the streets--but Obama's election put an end to all that.

Other international crises that you'd think any ethically-motivated individual would be horrified at--the ongoing Chinese occupation of Tibet or the active persecution of the Palestinians and the ethnic cleansing of refugees in Darfur--have passed by with hardly any public response at all.


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