Monday, April 14, 2008

Can’t he do better than that? - Botswana Guardian

In a letter to the Guardian on 11th April we saw the return of Bugalo Chilume. As Voltaire said about God, if Chilume didn't exist he'd have to be invented. He really is a walking advertisement for reason, rationalism and thought. OK, admittedly by NOT demonstrating any of those things but I think reading his writings is an educational experience nevertheless.

We are all used to his ravings about Mugabe and how he's such a nice guy, much maligned by the evil imperialist West and probably very kind to small animals but that's what we expect from him. Mugabe of course can do no wrong and the fact that his economy and in particular his currency are now a laughing stock is someone else’s fault. The fact that he brazenly tries to steal an election is no doubt another conspiracy by the CIA, Prince Philip and aliens to smear him.

However what provoked my greatest reaction to his letter was an implied reference to me.

The last sentence of his letter referred to the various letters and articles that Gilbert Sesinyi has written in the Guardian over the last few months. Most of these were in response to, or prompted, articles and letters by and from me. I wasn’t the only one who opposed Gilbert's ideas but I did play a significant role.

His last words describe Gilbert's opponent letter writers, and therefore presumably me, as "members of the local Ku Klux Klan sleeper cell".

Just in case anyone hasn't heard of the KKK they are a dreadful, despicable and disgusting racist group in the USA, the ones with the white robes and burning crosses. They have a history of lynching blacks, persecuting their opponents and hating Jews, Catholics, liberals and anyone with a functioning brain. So you can understand how being accused of being like the KKK is grossly insulting, particularly when I am a social liberal, the father of a Jewish son and in possession of a functioning brain.

However, despite a moment of anger I ended up rather amused by his comments. I couldn’t help but think that if that is the best he can do I must have overestimated his reasoning skills, although that IS quite a challenge I admit.

All I did was to express my belief that reason is better than superstition, that science is better than magic and that enlightenment is preferable to ignorance. If all he can do in response is launch an ad hominem attack against me and other rationalists then I find that rather disappointing. Where’s the argument, where’s the evidence that I’m wrong, where’s the critical reasoning? Somewhat absent it seems.

All we saw from him was the grossly defamatory suggestion that because I and others don’t share his views we must be a bunch of vicious racists. Come on Chilume, you can do better than that. Can’t you?