Regulars from the editor
So who does David Cameron think he is deceiving?“Splendidandholycausesareserved by men who are themselves splendid and holy” – Patrick Pearse, the Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist and political activist, in his funeral oration for Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, 1 August 1915.
8 | Februar y 2012 | New African B a f f o u r ’ s B e e f s
Ihave just been reading this wonderful book about the “Speeches That Changed the World” (with introduction by Simon S. Montefiore), and came across one speech by the American General George S. Patton Jr, rallying his men of the US Third Army before D-Day, 5 June 1944. A real soldier’s soldier, General Patton (who is credited with this beautiful line: “You can’t run an army without profanity; and it has to be eloquent profanity”) promised his men that he was “personally going to shoot that paper-hanging sonofabitch Hitler”.
For those who haven’t seen this book yet (and I highly recommend it), here is a bit of what General Patton said that day (if it doesn’t move you, nothing will):
“When you, here, every one of you, were kids, you all admired the champion marble player, the fastest runner, the toughest boxer, the big league ball players, and the All-American football players. Americans love a winner. Americans will not tolerate a loser. Americans despise cowards. Americans play to win all of the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor will ever lose a war; for the very idea of losing is hateful to an American.
“You are not all going to die. Only two per cent of you right here today would die in a major battle. Death must not be feared. Death, in time, comes to all men. Yes, every man is scared in his first battle. If he says he’s not, he’s a liar. Some men are cowards but they fight the same as the brave men or they get the hell slammed out of them watching men fight who are just as scared as they are.
“The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared. Some men get over their fright in a minute under fire. For some, it takes an hour. For some it takes days. But a real man will never let his fear of death overpower his honour, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood.
“… There is one great thing that you men will all be able to say after this war is over and you are home once again. You may be thankful that 20 years from now when you are sitting by the fireplace with your grandson on your knee and he asks you what you did in the great World War II, you won’t have to cough, shift him to the other knee and say, ‘Well, your granddaddy shovelled shit in Louisiana’. No, sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say, ‘Son, your granddaddy rode with the great Third Army and a son-of-a-goddammed bitch named George Patton!’”
Did you not like that? When I first read General Patton’s speech, I was so moved that I thought I should share it with the longsuffering readers of Beefs. “The real hero,” the great General said, “is the man who fights even though he is scared.” Can that apply to Britain’s youthful prime minister, David Cameron? I doubt it.
I don’t know about you, but I am getting really worried by the antics of Mr Cameron. First, I put it down to “youthful exuberance” in my piece in December, but the prime minister’s subsequent U-turns in the last few weeks have given me cause to wonder if there isn’t more to him than mere “youthful exuberance”. Whichever way one looks at David Cameron, there is a good reason why Africa should take what he preaches with a pinch of salt.
I guess you know what I am driving at. After threatening to tie British aid to the protection of gay rights everywhere under the sun, Prime Minister Cameron then went on, a few weeks later, in fact a week before Christmas, to give a major speech in which he called on the head of Britain’s official church, the Church of England, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to lead Britain back to the “moral code of the Bible”.
I bet many of you may have forgotten Cameron’s speech, thanks to the long Christmas and New Year festivities that followed immediately after its delivery. So please permit me to refresh your memory. Here is a small part of what the prime minister said:
“I believe the Church of England has a unique opportunity to help shape the future of our communities. But to do so it must keep on the agenda that speaks to the whole country... The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today – values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.
“Put simply, for too long we have been unwilling to distinguish right from wrong. ‘Live and let live’ has too often become ‘do what you please’. Bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles. To be confident in saying something is wrong, is not a sign of weakness, it’s a strength.” Regulars
“Live and let live has too often become ‘do what you please’. Bad choices have too often been defended as just different lifestyles” British PM David Cameron
According to Cameron, Christian values are central to Britain and they should be “treasured”. And then this: “Those who advocate secular neutrality in order to avoid passing judgement on the behaviour of others fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality or the role that faith can play in helping people to have a moral code…
“I am a committed – but I have to say vaguely practising Church of England Christian, who will stand up for the values and principles of my faith,” he said, even though, he added, he was often “full of doubts” and “constantly grappling” with the big theological issues.
Well, I don’t want to go back to the sermons that Cameron tried to preach to Africans in the past few months about the protection of gay rights. But I simply want to highlight the double standards of the man who now resides in 10 Downing Street, not harp on about the gay issue. How does leading Britain back to the moral code of the Bible help Cameron in his new struggle to persuade the Africans to protect gay rights?
What, may I ask the good prime minister, do “Christian values” and the “moral code of the Bible” say about the gay issue? Do they say it is merely a “bad choice” that has “too often been defended as just a different lifestyle”, or does the Bible suggest a rather different point of view? No wonder the prime minister admits that he is constantly “grappling” with the big theological issues! I can see why?
For the good of the good country which he leads, Prime Minister Cameron should decide where he stands. He cannot say one thing today meant to cause havoc in Africa, and proceed tomorrow to shoot his big idea down when speaking to his own people, with confused ideas about what the Bible says. The lesson this teaches the Africans is simple: we should not allow ourselves to be bamboozled by Westerners who try to foist their big ideas and their so-called values on us when those values conflict sharply with our own values! That however does not mean that we should persecute gays, as in Uganda and Malawi, or those who live different lifestyles elsewhere.
But let’s stay with Cameron for a while. He said: “The Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today – values and morals we should actively stand up and defend.”
Dear Africa, this is what our new pastor in Downing Street is preaching. We shall say Amen to Pastor Cameron, but politely ask him: “So which of the Camerons do we listen to? The one who wants to tie British aid to something that affronts the innate values of the African, or the one who wants Britain to go back to the moral code of the Bible?”
That should remind us of the great Ayi Kwei Armah, in the BeautyfulOnesAreNotYetBorn: “There is something so terrible in watching a black man trying at all points to be the dark ghost of a European,” the Ghanaian wrote in his seminal work first published in 1968, adding: “The black man who has spent his life fleeing from himself into whiteness has no power if the white master gives him none.”
It is a salutary lesson to us Africans.
New African | Februar y 2012 | 9