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Christina Engela's picture

I think everyone should experience what its like to lose their rights, even just for an hour or two, so they know how it hurts when you think how it might be to go through life being made to feel like a second-class citizen - a pariah, based solely on something you ARE, something you can't change or help being - something those in power see as wrong or undesirable, particularly for no good reason other than they feel like it, or their old favorite excuse - "cos we say so".

I imagine it would do people like Errol Naidoo, the South African Deputy Minister of Home Affairs (Gigaba), The Minister of Arts and Culture (Lulu Xingwana), Pastor "God-Squad" Ray McCauley and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni (to say nothing of our own Kiddie Amin) a world of good. Dr. James Dobson too - even though he has been put out to pasture recently, he has left a legacy of hatred and prejudice (and a trail of misguided parents a mile wide) that can be called his hallmark - the so-called "Culture War" we still feel the effects of today.

Of course, some of these personalities would argue that they have already been dispossessed and hard done by, and know the pain of prejudice and injustice and unfair discrimination quite intimately. Despite this, they still persist in punishing and judging others for their own inborn and immutable characteristics (especially innocents who weren't even around to have done them any harm) for things long past and supposedly behind us as a society. Clearly they learned little from those horrid experiences.

Perhaps, rather than trying to pass new laws to gag the free press in South Africa and wasting tax-payers money on big ruling-party rallies, our government should think about instituting mandatory classes in what it's like to be a persecuted minority for politicians, law makers and government ministers instead.

Of course, this lesson might work best on children - these folks are all adults now (at least, legally) and they are jaded and somewhat cynical. Mostly they would have a very narrow (dare I say black and white) view of the world. And these sort of people always find ways to justify, excuse or explain away their feelings or actions, and why if people are marginalized, unhappy or persecuted, then it is all their own fault and they deserve it.

It's a powerful and simple fact that the tears other people cry may be explained away - but your own will choke you up.

Imagine a civics class at school, demonstrating these points on racism, homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and xenophobia (which includes all of the above, really). Imagine a little white kid being shown in a scenario that she can't sit with her black friends because of her race? Or a boy being made to feel the sting of rejection that comes when he loses that big promotion to a woman because of his gender? Or a left-handed kid being made to sit in the corner because he isn't right-handed, while all the left-handed kids laugh at him? Or a blond child with blue eyes being singled out as a "Nazi" simply because of her physical characteristics? How about talking down to and treating a paraplegic child as if they have a mental disability - or a teacher telling them she doesn't care that there are 20 steps at the front entrance of the school and no ramp - or how he gets in to class? Imagine a school principal announcing on the intercom that all Christian children better leave because he won't tolerate them in 'his' school? Or telling a straight teen that he can't hold his girlfriend's hand like the other children can - because the government, religion and society see heterosexuality as "wrong" and "evil" and they will be punished for it?

Imagine judging peoples worthiness as human beings, their patriotism, their "morality", their fitness to be included in society or under equal protection of the common law - by the color of their skin, their language, their religious persuasions, their gender, their physical characteristics or ability, or the gender of the person they form relationships with? Come on, man - can't you see how f***ed up that is? That's not "patriotism" or "morality" or "Christianity" - it's eugenics. And whether or not you agree with me, eugenics is about superiority, delusions of grandeur and of one group of pots feeling fit to judge another set of kettles for how black, chipped or dented they are. Eugenics is the root of genocide.

Imagine how it must be to be these people - that your sense of self-worth is so low that you need to hurt other people, or revel in your own personal power to make them cry (even if you don't get to see them shed their tears) in order to feel better about yourself? Imagine that the tears of another, and taking away their dignity and humanity, are the price for your self-esteem? Are these people really so small?

See? Bigotry and prejudice and inequality make a whole different kind of non-sense when you think about how it would affect YOU, doesn't it?

I'll bet interfering in other people's lives, and deciding on who should be treated differently to themselves - and how, wouldn't seem quite so "heroic", "patriotic" and "Christian" - or even "justifiable" anymore, would it?

(Posted at Sour Grapes)

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