Monday, July 14, 2008

Interview with Desmond Tutu: World Peace is a Mutual Climax

(Originally published in one of my rags, HUMP Megazine)

Desmond Tutu is considered by many people to be a prophet who rallied the spirit of a people whose national pride had been sequestered in the blistering sun for 100’s of years. Up close and in person, Archbishop Tutu looks more like Sammy Davis Jr’s dad, a huggable little man who seemingly against all odds, had his words become prophecy. What had seemed like an unlikely, in fact unbelievable turning of the tables, occurred, and still remains spinning today like a lazy susan.

Mr. Tutu, besides being known for adorning huge gold crosses around his neck way before Master P made it fashionable, is also famous (or in the eyes of Baptists everywhere: infamous) for his statements that Jesus was a revolutionary in the same vein as, “Che, Fidel Castro and Chairman Mao.” His stunning tour de force is the notion that “race stands in the way of world peace,” and invites everyone to join the “rainbow family.” We have not yet, even the most liberal amongst us, been able to fathom that that the color of a persons skin does not, in any way, interfere with their ability to be human and share and contribute in every facet of the human condition. Apparently Archbishop Tutu is immune to the myopia that afflicts the average westerner from achieving utopia.

Much to the horror what almost every American thinks, Tutu’s idea is that reconciliation, and not revenge, should be the mainstay of our global system of rights and wrongs. If we were to take Tutu’s words to heart, we would have to take the fastest growing business in America, the prison system, and replace it with a conscious community who worked together to enforce a tight set of ideals and morals. Tutu says, “the world is facing a sort of conflict situation as in Kososvo, Bosnia and Sri Lanka. It’s all really basically a conflict within a race of people. They have to make a decision about how they are going to resolve these problems and how they can be prepared to live intelligently together.” Who can argue with Desmond when he says, “The world is intriguing,” or when he talks of the possibilities of our leaders doing good.

DNA: Hi. Have you met President Clinton before? Bill Clinton? That guy?
Tutu: Yes.

DNA: Do you find that he just pays lip service to wanting to end wars? Or do you find he’s a man really devoted to peace? Or perhaps, that he’s more caught up in making some money on the side?

Tutu: I like him. And I have been very impressed with his commitment to some of the issues that are close to my heart. Many people have thought that perhaps the Third World, so called, Africa, perhaps really is off the radar screen, and he said this ought not to be, and is delighted by visiting Africa. Another concern of ours is the old question of the international debt, and he has made some very impressive remarks about forgiving those debts, which is what the so-called Jubilee 2000 occasion was to be about. Debt. The burden of debt lifted from countries that are not able to pay it. So, I would say that I have found this kind of thing that is being concerned about, it certainly, in foreign policy, on the whole, things that warm the cockles of my heart.

Despite the fact that Clinton’s half-hearted attempt at erasing desperate nations debt inevitably failed in Congress, Tutu found the burger-eating, jism-spreading countrified Bubba as one who warms ones cockles. And while this is an article on Tutu, not Clinton, I’ve got to say, “what about erasing our own countries debts?” Sure, the UN didn’t sanction the IMF to make me take out student loans, but why not try some down-home mercy with your own citizens before sticking your corncob out and looking all benevolent to other countries that we’ve screwed so far down, that amnesty is the only solution anyway. But I digress.

The South African government as they “offered” to help us in Florida to achieve “true Democracy” did not overlook the cracks exposed during the recent election. Tutu is vehemently opposed to Capitalism, yet he seems to pander to America’s delusion that we are a Democracy. “I think it’s a very wonderful thing that our country has a leading party, one that has had a fairly firm grip actually and a commitment to nonracialism. They’ve refused to say “with a commitment to being multiracial,” though. They speak more about the fact that race ought not to be a significant factor in determining ‘whatever’ of any significance. And the way you look at the policies of our government is you have essentially all the ethnic groups of South Africa represented. And there’s also a very deep commitment to gender equality, so we find that most of our ambassadors are women. Which is unusual. The speaker of our parliament is a woman the house speaker is a woman. So it is not lip service. One of our former premiers, a premier is something like your state Governor, who said, “When you speak about race and you speak about color, you touch my children. When you speak about race, you touch me. When you speak about equality, you touch my wife.” And he is a very high official in the ANC, which is a very, maybe, romantic way of demonstrating the kind of commitment that our country has to nonprejudice.”

Does Tutu think that the legacy of Nelson Mandela will be hard shoes to fill? Tutu suggests, “I suppose that would be code for “Do you think his successors are going to be committed to reconciliation?” I think that what we need to make clear is, no one in their right mind could ever think that we will produce a clone of Nelson Mandela. He is unique, and it’s wonderful that we’ve had him. Fortunately his successor, his immediate successor, is someone who, in fact, was running Nelson Mandela’s government, as Nelson Mandela was the figurehead President. Figurehead, not in a derogatory sense, in a very, very powerful sense of someone who was beginning to draw disparate groups together. He was, (the new President) was running the government. As to his own commitment to reconciliation, there is no doubt about that. He addressed an exclusive organization, which in the past was a very, very influential group indeed. And after his address, we see this organization quickly opened its membership to people of all races and all genders. And he has also set up in the Presidency, a unit in language, because he’s aware of just how sensitive an issue it is with most people, but especially with the new President. And I know that he is as firmly committed as Nelson Mandela ever was to this issue. He is not as flamboyant as Nelson Mandela, he doesn’t wear dashikis, he tends to wear a suit and tie, because he is actually rather prudish.”

It is easy to be fooled into thinking that now that we have entered the 21st century that we have somehow evolved emotionally and intellectually as a culture, and as a society. Desmond is ample proof that there are individuals that have achieved a more integrated perspective, but collectively we just don’t know how to limbo. Tutu says it this way, “And you know you need it in this country, very much, as in other countries, but race is a big issue in the United States. And one is not really pontificating at all, but saying this is a great country, and has the potential to be an even greater country if it can resolve its race problem. Because only a very blind mind and insensitive person would pretend that there was not something odd when the majority of dropouts come from one ethnic grouping. The highest number of unemployed, it’s a very odd coincidence. You go to prisons, you discover it is disproportionately from one section of the community. And so you have to say, “There is something wrong”.
Despite all of America’s erectile dysfunction and rush to concoct newer and bigger panaceas, there is a rootsy dream that was born with this country, one that still beats today, a dream that has left its impression around the world. You don’t spit into the wind and you don’t build an Eiffel Tower in Tienneman Square. We talk the talk, and now we must walk the walk. Tutu supports this great notion when he says, “The world out there is waiting, and the United States is the only super-power now. And whether you like it or not, you have obligations to the world community.” In other words, the Prophet Tutu warns that it is time for America and Americans to grow up and come to grips with our effect on the rest of the planet.

Our leaders seem to think the only way to “help” others is to bomb their country, kill their children and women, and set up “peace-keeping” military bases everywhere. If the truth be known there are other ways to help (gasp). We can no longer ride in like John Wayne, and set crooked countries straight. Tutu believes, no, Tutu knows that, like Spiderman, where there is great power comes great responsibility “What it does say is that perhaps you will be slightly more modest in when you approach other places. That way, you know you don’t have to be prescriptive. You know that you don’t seem to have all the answers. Because you haven’t. You can come as a partner.”

It is time to dance.

DNA is an Internationally published journalist whose words have been read in such trash as Rage, Axcess, Revelation, Bizarre, Lotus,,,, Magical Blend and now this. Contact him directly at

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