The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'nelson mandela'
After it emerged that Thamsanqa Jantjie, the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial ceremony, had actually been making it up and just moving his arms about meaninglessly, Slavoj Žižek (no fan of well-meaning liberalism, to say the least) argues, with supreme cynicism, that his doing so was not so much a fraud as a deeper form of honesty, laying bare the hypocrisy of liberalism:
Now we can see why Jantjie's gesticulations generated such an uncanny effect once it became clear that they were meaningless: what he confronted us with was the truth about sign language translations for the deaf – it doesn't really matter if there are any deaf people among the public who need the translation; the translator is there to make us, who do not understand sign language, feel good.
And was this also not the truth about the whole of the Mandela memorial ceremony? All the crocodile tears of the dignitaries were a self-congratulatory exercise, and Jangtjie translated them into what they effectively were: nonsense. What the world leaders were celebrating was the successful postponement of the true crisis which will explode when poor, black South Africans effectively become a collective political agent. They were the Absent One to whom Jantjie was signalling, and his message was: the dignitaries really don't care about you. Through his fake translation, Jantjie rendered palpable the fake of the entire ceremonyOf course, actual deaf people might not agree with this assessment.
Nelson Mandela, the South African prisoner of conscience who became the first president of the post-apartheid South Africa, has died at his home, at the age of 95. He had been ailing for some time.
Mandela was one of the few people one can say was truly great; a paragon of strength, dignity, forgiveness and wisdom, he endured terrible adversity for his cause, and when he won, he eschewed vengeance and led his country into a (relatively) peaceful new era. And here is the Onion's take.
At some point today, the world's political leaders will pay tributes to Mandela. When David Cameron, the UK's Prime Minister says his words (as he must, regardless of whether it'd be the decent thing to do), let it not be forgotten that the Federation of Conservative Students of which he was a senior member at the time called for Mandela to be executed as a terrorist.
Nelson Mandela is no longer considered a terrorist in the US. Up until now, the South African former political prisoner and first post-Apartheid president had to obtain a waiver each time he wished to travel to the United States, because the ANC was designated as a "terrorist organisation", meaning that he couldn't just tick the "no" box on the immigration card:
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called the restrictions a "rather embarrassing matter that I still have to waive in my own counterpart, the foreign minister of South Africa, not to mention the great leader Nelson Mandela."
Nelson Mandela is not someone who is deterred easily. He phoned US president Bush. Bush didn't respond or return his calls, having no time for him. So Mandela called his father, asking him to have a word with his son about hastily invading Iraq.