Some things are able to so unsettle one that one’s entire outlook on the world changes, even if only in a small way. It’s almost as if while minding your own business, someone whispers to you, “Say, you know how pretty much everyone else has become a zombie?” And then you look around, and for the first time you notice that everyone is bluer than you remembered, and they’re all muttering something about brains. OK, maybe that’s too earth-shattering. Perhaps today was the first time you noticed that you have six fingers on each hand, and everyone else has five.
Well, after a series of events recently, many of which involve our younger government ministers, I have been awoken to the possibility that large numbers of people — perhaps a sizeable majority — are enormously stupid. I hate to say it, because it sounds like I imagine myself to be clever or something, and I have always been of the opinion that one should refrain from calling someone stupid just because one is unable to understand where they’re coming from. All of that is being shaken at its foundations right now.
Firstly, let’s begin with the theological. It’s an old story that I’ve only just discovered (he apparently appears in that Religulous documentary, so you may have seen him), but some chap down in Florida a few years ago proclaimed that he is the returned Christ. He was featured on the Today Show, which you can see here.
Nothing about that surprises me at all (OK, except that he got TV face time). People manage to be ignorant, arrogant and insane all the time. What does appall me is that he has followers. Presumably, if they believe that this Miranda person is the second coming of Christ, they’ve heard of the first coming. And if they’ve heard of the first one, it’s not too much to expect that they’d be aware of the terms and conditions of Jesus’ promised return that he outlined back then. Yet there they go, seemingly in all seriousness proclaiming the ‘good news’ that Jesus is back and taking collection.
Secondly, there’s South African politics, particularly the ANC Youth League. We all know that Julius Malema is dangerously stupid. Shame, it’s fine. Someone has to be at the back of the curve. We know that power got to his head some time ago and he threatened to kill opponents of his favoured presidential candidate. We know that he was not reprimanded then, and so the horror / comedy show has rolled on for years now. He’s attacked the judiciary, he’s attacked free press, he’s insulted opposition parties, and he swore at a member of the foreign press and ejected him from the meeting, because he had dared to point out his glaring hypocrisy while standing on ANC holy ground (Malema was criticising a Zimbabwean party for settling its HQ in the fancy Suburb of Sandton, and the reporter merely pointed out that Malema lives there too). Malema returned from a visit to the failed state of Zimbabwe, which has experienced land-grabs that destroyed farming and which has required a steady stream of international aid to avoid worsening famine, and he declared that this is what must happen in South Africa. He hasn’t openly said this, but it seems Malema thinks that if we too can get to the point of printing 100 billion dollar notes, then even the poor can be billionaires. At least then it won’t sound so elitist that he’s wearing a R250,000 watch. So he is a first class dunce, and commands the unchecked influence to do untold damage. [You can witness the hilarious idiocy of his spokesperson here if you need a break.]
Again, this is not a surprise. It takes a while to distinguish between the odd ill-conceived idea and a pattern of stupidity. What is unbelievable is the number of people who still don’t realise that he’s an idiot. The ANC finally started speaking about disciplining him (he jeopardised power-sharing talks in Zimbabwe by openly declaring ANCYL support for the one party while repeatedly insulting the other; and he flouted his party’s call to ease tensions after the death of a right-wing leader by singing ‘kill the farmer, kill the boer’ — you know, nothing too serious). But here’s the kicker: he carries so much clout that the president himself is shying away from actually instituting discipline, because of the popularity of this guy.
So I’ve had enough. I look around me and everywhere I see people who believe (with a weight of contrary evidence) that God is some Puerto Rican wacko in Florida. Everywhere I see people so devoid of analytical ability that they think Julius Malema is a treasure for the future, and not the guy that is most likely to turn another promising African country into a wasteland. Waking into a bad dream, I steal a glance at a stranger and wonder, “Are you really a zombie too?”