Last week, the NYPD published its hate-crimes report for the third quarter, and the results are troubling.
Start with the anti-Semitism. Over the last 12 months, there were 246 anti-Semitic crimes in the Big Apple, up from 144 over the previous 12 months. The number of anti-Semitic assaults jumped to 33 in 2018, up from 17 in 2017, and is on pace to rise again this year, with 19 in just the first half of the year. These attacks brutally target Orthodox Jews, often in broad daylight in Brooklyn neighborhoods that are home to the community.
Then there’s the anti-LGBT violence. The most recent quarterly report tallies 20 incidents, bringing the total number of attacks over the past 12 months to 63, up from 48 in the previous 12 months.
Finally, there’s the anti-Muslim violence, most of which goes unreported (and isn’t well-captured in the report as a result). Yet it is possible to track trends by paying attention to local news and other city agencies. Many of the attacks on this community take place in the Bronx.
Regardless of the victims’ identity, perpetrators too often escape justice. The attackers in the January anti-Muslim case were only caught because the mother of one of them turned in her 14-year-old son. The Muslim woman beaten up this spring, meanwhile, had to track down street-camera footage on her own before police would pursue the case, having initially dropped it after she failed to make an identification.
Yet there is little pressure on the NYPD from activists who are normally quick to denounce hate crimes and bigotry. What explains this silence? The perpetrators have been disproportionately black.
As the investigative reporter Armin Rosen pointed out in Tablet, “many of the [anti-Jewish] attacks are being carried out by people of color with no ties to the politics of white supremacy.” As he noted, even in cases where no one is caught, video footage overwhelmingly shows minority attackers. Blacks comprised seven of the nine anti-Jewish hate-crime perpetrators arrested during the third quarter.
In the most recent report, blacks comprised 24 of the 34 (71 percent) perpetrators arrested for all hate crimes. After reaching a high of 61 percent in the second quarter of 2018, the black share consistently declined to 14 percent in the second quarter of 2019 but has now shot back up. The NYPD doesn’t account for this odd oscillation, though one wonders if there is a political component to this, as well.
Black perpetrators are especially prominent in anti-LGBT crimes, comprising 10 of the 12 arrested for those crimes in the latest quarterly report. Overall, since the beginning of 2017, blacks comprised 56 percent — 61 of 108 — of those arrested for anti-LGBT hate crimes.
But in many urban areas, the problem is complicated by the fact that many of the perpetrators themselves are minorities. Just because facts make us uncomfortable, however, doesn’t mean we should ignore them.
The social-justice community must take hate-crime stats seriously — even when the crimes aren’t committed by white supremacists. We must find the courage to look at the warts in the black community before bigoted violence escalates even further.
Robert Cherry is a professor emeritus of economics at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center.
“SpongeBob Squarepants and his friends play a role in normalizing the settler colonial takings of indigenous lands while erasing the ancestral Bikinian people from their nonfictional homeland,” the article reads.
Barker calls SpongeBob’s colonization of Bikini Bottom “violent” and “racist,” and also claims that the cartoon is guilty of the “whitewashing of violent American military activities” against natives of the Pacific.
Barker’s beliefs come from the idea that the show is set in a version of the real-life Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands. During the Cold War, natives of the area were relocated and the American military used the zone for nuclear testing.
Fox News caught up with ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ cast members Carolyn Lawrence, Bill Fagerbakke and Clancy Brown, who talked about their favorite moments from the series and how the show made a huge impact on US culture.
The area remains uninhabitable to this day. That history has given rise to fans’ theory that Bikini Bottom is inhabited by creatures who owe their mutation to that testing.
Barker stated that as an “American character” allowed to inhabit an area that natives had no choice but to leave, SpongeBob showed his privilege of “not caring about the detonation of nuclear bombs.”
Barker also points out the cultural appropriation of Pacific culture, with Hawaiian-style shirts, homes in the shapes of pineapples, tikis and Easter Island heads, and the sounds of a steel guitar perpetuating stereotypes of the region.
Even the theme song, according to Barker is problematic, as it denounces the area as one full of “nautical nonsense.”
Barker understands that the writers likely didn’t have colonization in mind when creating the show, but she’s upset by the lack of acknowledgment that “Bikini Bottom and Bikini Atoll were not (the writers’) for the taking.”
Other issues for Barker: a perceived imbalance between male and female characters, and the name “Bob” representing an everyman rather than a culturally appropriate character
In the article, Barker claims that because of these themes, children have “become acculturated to an ideology that includes the U.S. character SpongeBob residing on another people’s homeland.”
The article concludes with this: We should be uncomfortable with a hamburger-loving American community’s occupation of Bikini’s lagoon and the ways that it erodes every aspect of sovereignty.”
Last month, 12-year-old Amari Allen appeared on television to share how she had been brutalized by racist white boys at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The sixth-grader, who is black, wept as she recalled how she was pinned down during recess, had her arms pulled behind her back and had a hand placed over her mouth so she couldn’t scream.
She said the boys cut off her dreadlocks, calling it “nappy.” By Monday, it was revealed that, following an investigation by Fairfax County Police, the girl admitted she had made it all up.
When the story first broke, left-wing politicians and activists raged. Rep. Rashida Tlaib published a personalized message on Twitter to the girl: “You see, Amari, you may not feel it now but you have a power that threatens their core. I can’t wait to watch you use it and thrive.” On Twitter, some even found a way to blame the Trump administration, noting ominously that Vice President Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, teaches art part-time at the school.
As with Jussie Smollett’s original accusations, Allen’s yarn had all the elements of a rage-bait story. Fervid media interest turned a regional non-incident into a national crisis, featured prominently and uncritically on televised reports from NBC, MSNBC, CNN and CBS, in addition to numerous print and online outlets.
Left-wing activists and the mainstream media refuse to learn lessons about hate-crime hoaxes. Sensational claims deserve additional scrutiny. Was Allen or her family asked why no known students had come forward to corroborate her claims? She said it happened during recess — around dozens of other students presumably.
The accused boys were also never sought for comment. On the contrary, the NAACP demanded “immediate disciplinary action” against the minor suspects.
It’s hard to blame the public and media consumers for their naive credulity. The real problem is that highly publicized fake hate crimes like this one usually receive little public coverage after it is revealed that the original accusation was a hoax.
Then, too, few Americans are aware that in just the past few years, several children have been caught fabricating hate-crime allegations.
In January 2017, police in Gambrills, Maryland, identified a “14-year-old black female” as the suspect responsible for sending out a violent racist threat against her high school using a Twitter account pretending to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.
The following month, students at Plano West Senior High in Texas discovered their school vandalized with racist, anti-black graffiti all over its buildings and school vans. After several months, police arrested and charged Alexandria Monet Butler and Elizabeth Joy Police, two black female minors, for the incident. They were caught on camera vandalizing the school.
Then last year, a 5-year-old black child in Grand Rapids, Michigan, launched a frenzied police search after she told her family that a white man in the neighborhood had urinated on her and called her a racist slur. A 60-year-old man was arrested. The child made up the story with her friends.
Nor are incidents like these confined to the United States. In early 2018, Khawlah Noman, an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, claimed that a man had attacked her by cutting her hijab. The story reverberated across the country, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau immediately issuing comments condemning Islamophobia in Canada. Local police invested huge resources into catching the at-large suspect. Noman had fabricated the incident. She was never charged.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf is as old as time immemorial, to be sure. What’s different today is the mind-boggling credulity of mainstream media and politicians, who jump to ideological conclusions and dial the outrage to 11 before the facts have played out.
It’s no surprise that children lie, but when they are rewarded by an all-too-willing media and audience, we should expect more incidents like what happened in Virginia. The final result: Americans are bound to become ever more cynical and skeptical of hate-crime allegations — even when they’re true.
Andy Ngo is a journalist in Portland, Oregon. Twitter: @MrAndyNgo
It is now a standard trope that whites pose a severe threat to blacks. That may have once been true, but it is no longer so today.
This month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released its 2018 survey of criminal victimization. According to the study, there were 593,598 interracial violent victimizations (excluding homicide) between blacks and whites last year, including white-on-black and black-on-white attacks. Blacks committed 537,204 of those interracial felonies, or 90%, and whites committed 56,394 of them, or less than 10%.
Blacks are also over-represented among perpetrators of hate crimes, by 50%, according to the most recent Justice Department data from 2017; whites are underrepresented by 24%. This is particularly true for anti-gay and anti-Semitic hate crimes.
You would never know such facts from the media or from Democratic talking points. This summer, three shockingly violent mob attacks on white victims in downtown Minneapolis were captured by surveillance video.
On Aug. 3, in broad daylight, a dozen black assailants, some as young as 15, tried to take a man’s cellphone, viciously beating and kicking him as he lay on the ground. They jumped on his torso like a trampoline, stripped his shoes and pants off as they riffled through his pockets, smashed a planter pot on his head and rode a bike over his prostrate body.
On Aug. 17, another large group kicked and punched their victim until he was unconscious, stealing his phone, wallet, keys and cash. In July, two men were set upon in similar fashion. Such attacks have risen more than 50% in downtown Minneapolis this year.
The Minneapolis media have paid fleeting attention to these videos; the mainstream national media, almost none (CNN blamed the attacks on police understaffing and ignored the evident racial hatred that was the most salient aspect of the attacks). This year’s installments of the usual flash mob rampages on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile and in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor have also been ignored.
If the race of perpetrators and victims in any of these incidents were reversed, there would be a universal uproar, with public figures across the board denouncing “white supremacist” violence and calling for a national reckoning regarding white racism. But because the violence doesn’t fit the standard narrative about American race relations, it is kept carefully off stage.
Today’s taboo on acknowledging the behavioral roots of criminal-justice-system involvement, multi-generational poverty and the academic-achievement gap isn’t a civil rights advance. To the contrary, it will ensure that racial disparities persist, where they can be milked by opportunistic politicians and activists seeking to parade their own alleged racial sensitivity and deflect attention away from the cultural changes that must occur for full racial parity to be realized.
Heather Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal, from which this column was adapted.
When Oklahoma City Council member JoBeth Hamon was sworn in early this year, she chose to use a copy of Marxist Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” rather than the Bible.
While there’s no law or policy that requires the use of a Bible for swearing-in ceremonies, Hamon upset traditions going back to ninth-century England.
In an email to me, Hamon explained that she comes from a social services background, so she wanted to center her campaign “on uplifting voices that aren’t often at the table when our governments make decisions”— the homeless, the car-less, and so forth, from whose perspective, she claimed, Zinn told U.S. history.
“A People’s History,” she thought, “would be a good reminder of who I seek to serve.” Implicit in the ritual of taking oaths on the Bible is the acknowledgment of the need for God’s guidance—something that U.S. presidents have signaled since George Washington used his own personal Bible as the sacred object for his oath.
In Washington’s first inaugural address, he offered his “fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe,” and in his Farewell Address reminded the nation, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports.” And “national morality” could not “prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
Washington asked, “Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice?”
Hamon sought the guidance not of God, but of a supporter and almost certainly a card-carrying member of the Stalin-controlled Communist Party USA, according toFBI files. Like others at the time, Zinn seems to have dropped his official membership in the Communist Party in order to infiltrate U.S. institutions, in his case by teaching at Spelman College and Boston University, where he attained a cult-like following.
His “A People’s History of the United States,” which has sold a record 2.6 million copies, casts George Washington as a racist money-grubber and Ho Chi Minh as the true Thomas Jefferson. It presents Soviet-backed insurgencies around the world as local independence movements and American women as slaves.
The 1949 communist takeover of China is presented as “the closest thing, in the long history of that ancient country, to a people’s government”—in stark contrast to the “corrupt dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek.” The 100 million human beings that Mao and other communist dictators murdered in the 20th century are ignored. Zinn’s “history” was cobbled together from dubious sources—and by dishonest quotation that makes authors say the opposite of what they intended.
President Donald Trump has vowed that “America will never be a socialist country.” But the increasing support for socialism in our country, the politicization of everything, and worship of Zinn show that even if the president is right, it will be a close contest.
Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” which follows the contours of Communist Party USA leader William Z. Foster’s “Outline Political History of the Americas,” has been gaining influence exponentially since its original publication in 1980. It’s used in classrooms, in teacher-training courses, in the dozens of Zinn-inspired curricular materials available from the nonprofit Zinn Education Project, and in library books and textbooks that cite passages from it.
Our tax dollars support this indoctrination in other ways, such as a recent “teach-in” at the Smithsonian, a credit-bearing workshop for teachers that used Zinn’s twisted and plagiarized version of the discovery of America, and trained them in conducting an “Abolish Columbus Day” campaign in the classroom. The National Endowment for the Arts supported the Kronos Festival, where Zinn’s “penetrating words” were used to “unite music with energized action.”
Two generations have been steeped in Zinn’s America-hating history, and we are seeing its influence pervade our workplaces, politics, arts, and culture, especially among millennials. One of the most famous of that generation, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), in claiming that ICE detention centers were “concentration camps,” mimicked Zinn’s false depiction of earlier U.S. detention facilities for Japanese Americans during World War II.
Other less-famous millennials elected to political office have specifically claimed the history professor, who died in 2010, as their inspiration. Newly elected District Attorney Natasha Irving of Waldoboro, Maine, cited Zinn’s autobiography, “You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train,” in her inaugural speech: “As district attorney, I cannot be neutral in the face of mass incarceration. I cannot be neutral in the prosecution of the sick for being sick, the poor for being poor.”
As if any of this were the reality of life in the United States—rather than the lies and distortions of Howard Zinn.
NOTE: In the late 1980s I did business in sub Saharan Africa including work with Mugabe’s cousin in Zimbabwe. At the time the economy there was remarkable.
I too believed that he was a good man with good intentions but soon realized that he was evil, and I don’t use that word lightly. The good people of Zimbabwe suffered unspeakable crimes by this man. Dale Yeager
Robert Gabriel Mugabe was a man who divided global public opinion like few others. To some, he was an evil dictator who should have ended his days in jail for crimes against humanity.
To others, he was a revolutionary hero, who fought racial oppression and stood up to Western imperialism and neo-colonialism.
On his own terms, he was an undoubted success.
First, he delivered independence for Zimbabwe after decades of white-minority rule.
He then remained in power for 37 years – outlasting his greatest enemies and rivals such as Tony Blair, George W Bush, Joshua Nkomo, Morgan Tsvangirai and Nelson Mandela.
And he destroyed the economic power of Zimbabwe’s white community, which was based on their hold over the country’s most fertile land.
However, his compatriots – except for a small, well-connected elite – paid the price, with the destruction of what had once been one of Africa’s most diversified economies.
In the end, this came back to haunt him.
The outpouring of joy on the streets of Harare which greeted his forced resignation in November 2017 echoed the jubilation in the same city 37 years earlier when it was announced he was the new leader of independent Zimbabwe.
Although he was allowed to see out his days in peace in his Harare mansion, it was not the end he wanted, having famously boasted: “Only God, who appointed me, will remove me.”
Many Zimbabweans trace the reversal of his – and their – fortunes to his 1996 wedding to his secretary Grace Marufu, 41 years his junior, following the death of his widely respected first wife, Sally, in 1992.
“He changed the moment Sally died, when he married a young gold-digger,” according to Wilf Mbanga, editor of The Zimbabwean newspaper, who used to be close personal friends with Mr Mugabe.
That sentiment was common long before anyone dreamed she might one day harbour presidential ambitions, which were the trigger for his close allies in the military and the ruling Zanu-PF party to oust Mr Mugabe from power.
Mugabe the man
While he was sometimes portrayed as a madman, this was far from the truth. He was extremely intelligent and those who underestimated him usually discovered this to their cost.
Stephen Chan, a professor at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, noted Mr Mugabe had repeatedly embarrassed the West with his “adroit diplomacy”.
Mugabe in his own words:
“Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen” – undated
“Let the MDC and its leadership be warned that those who play with fire will not only be burnt, but consumed by that fire” – 2003 election rally
“We are not hungry… Why foist this food upon us? We don’t want to be choked. We have enough” – interview with Sky TV in 2004, amid widespread food shortages
“Only God, who appointed me, will remove me – not the MDC, not the British. Only God will remove me.” Robert Mugabe During election rally, 2008
“Don’t drink at all, don’t smoke, you must exercise and eat vegetables and fruit” – interview on his 88th birthday in 2012
“[Nelson] Mandela [South Africa’s first black president] has gone a bit too far in doing good to the non-black communities, really in some cases at the expense of [blacks]… That’s being too saintly, too good, too much of a saint” – 2013 state TV interview
As a former political rival of Mr Mugabe, who went on to serve as his home affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa witnessed the different sides of Zimbabwe’s founding father.
“Under normal circumstances, he would be very charming but when he got angry, he was something else – if you crossed him, he could certainly be ruthless,” he told the BBC before his death in May 2019.
Mr Dabengwa said the president would often let him win an argument over policy during the decade they worked together, or they would agree to compromise – not the behaviour of a dictator.
But something, he added, changed after 2000 and Mr Mugabe resorted to threats to ensure he got his way.
“He held compromising material over several of his colleagues and they knew they would face criminal charges if they opposed him.”
This is not a picture recognised by Chen Chimutengwende, who worked alongside Mr Mugabe in both the Zanu-PF party and government for 30 years.
“In all the time I have worked with him, I have never seen him be vindictive or ill-treat anyone,” he said.
Wilf Mbanga, editor, The Zimbabwean:
“He went from trying to convince you with his arguments to a man who would send his thugs to beat you up if you disagreed with him”
Mr Chimutengwende felt Zimbabwe’s leader had been unfairly demonised in the Western media because of his policy of seizing land from white farmers whom he suspects of having influential supporters, especially in the UK, where many trace their roots.
Mugabe the teacher
The year 2000 marked a watershed both in the history of Zimbabwe and the career of Mr Mugabe.
Until then, he was generally feted for reaching out towards the white community following independence, while Zimbabwe’s economy was still faring pretty well.
After coming to power in 1980, Mr Mugabe greatly expanded education and healthcare for black Zimbabweans and the country enjoyed living standards far higher than its neighbours.
In 1995, a World Bank report praised Zimbabwe’s rapid progress in the fields of health and literacy. Run by a former teacher, the country had the highest literacy rates in Africa.
In her book, Dinner With Mugabe, Heidi Hollande said Mr Mugabe used to personally coach illiterate State House workers to help them pass exams.
Mr Mbanga recalls listening to the songs of US country singer Jim Reeves together.
“He could be very affectionate, he was an intellectual. He liked explaining things, like a teacher,” said Mr Mbanga, but then saw a huge change in his former friend.
“He went from trying to convince you with his arguments to a man who would send his thugs to beat you up if you disagreed with him.”
In fact, the warning signs were already there – the massacre of thousands of ethnic Ndebeles seen as supporters of Mr Mugabe’s rival, Joshua Nkomo, in the 1980s and the start of the economic decline – but these were usually overlooked.
“Some say he had us all fooled, I am convinced he himself changed,” Mr Mbanga said.
The journalist says that in his early years as president, Mr Mugabe genuinely believed in trying to improve the lives of his people, and introduced a “leadership code” which barred ministers from owning too much property.
“Look at him today, he is fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew,” Mr Mbanga said in May 2014.
In February 2000, the government lost a referendum on a draft constitution.
With parliamentary elections looming four months later and a newly formed opposition party with close links to the “No” campaign posing a serious threat, Mr Mugabe unleashed his personal militia.
Some were genuine veterans of the 1970s war of independence but others were far younger.
TV footage of white farmers queuing up to make donations to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) meant Mr Mugabe was able to portray the opposition as stooges of the white community, and by extension the UK.
The invasion of white-owned farms achieved several goals for Mr Mugabe and his allies:
Punish the white community for their “betrayal”
Remove a source of funding from the opposition
Allow the “war veterans” to intimidate the many thousands of black farmworkers, largely seen as opposition supporters
Ensure that the opposition could not campaign in rural areas
Re-energise his supporters, some of whom had been losing faith in his ability to redistribute land – one of the grievances behind the 1970s war of independence
Attract new supporters with the promise of land handouts.
There was certainly a strong moral argument that land reform was needed in Zimbabwe but the way it was carried out was undoubtedly with political motivations uppermost.
Despite the widespread violence, intimidation and electoral fraud, the MDC gained almost as many elected seats as Zanu-PF in 2000.
Had it not been for the intimidation in rural areas, Zanu-PF may well have lost its majority.
Lovemore Madhuku, one of the leaders of the “No” campaign in 2000, described Mr Mugabe as an “an excellent political calculator”, who adapted his tactics to the situation.
“There are moments when he chooses to be ruthless, others when he chooses to be magnanimous… He considers what is best – for him – in every situation and reacts accordingly,” Mr Madhuku told the BBC.
He said Mr Mugabe might not have realised the damage the seizure of white-owned land would do to Zimbabwe’s economy but in any case, he would not have cared, as long as he remained president.
Mr Chan agreed that, “in terms of Mr Mugabe’s value-set, the ownership of the land is more important than the smooth running of the economy”.
And the economy continued to decline until 2008.
After 28 years of Mr Mugabe’s rule, the resourceful, largely self-sufficient country lay in ruins. The inflation rate had reached an unfathomable 231 million per cent and young Zimbabweans were voting with their feet, fleeing the country he had fought to liberate.
And yet, from this low point, he once more managed to outmanoeuvre his rivals and remain in power for another nine years.
‘Mummy’s Boy’ to African liberator
The key to understanding Robert Mugabe is the fight against white-minority rule.
In the Rhodesia where he grew up, power was reserved for some 270,000 white people at the expense of about six millions Africans.
A host of other laws discriminated against the black majority, largely subsistence farmers.
They were forced to leave their ancestral land and pushed into the country’s peripheral regions, with dry soil and low rainfall, while the most fertile areas were reserved for white farmers.
Reclaiming the land was one of the main drivers behind the 1970s war which brought Mr Mugabe to power.
The son of a carpenter who abandoned his family, as a child Mr Mugabe was said to have been a loner, who spent much of his time reading.
Ms Hollande wrote that after his elder brother died of poisoning when Mr Mugabe was just 10, his mother became depressed and the young Mugabe would do everything he could for her, to the extent he was teased as a “mummy’s boy” at school.
He eventually qualified as a teacher and in 1958 went to work in Ghana, which had just become the first African country south of the Sahara to end colonial rule.
Encouraged by his Ghanaian wife, Sally, and the pan-Africanist speeches of Ghana’s leader Kwame Nkrumah, Mr Mugabe became determined to achieve the same back home.
On his return in 1960, he started to campaign for an end to discrimination and was jailed for a decade after being convicted of sedition.
While in prison, his supporters wrested control of Zanu, the biggest party fighting white rule, and installed him as leader.
On his release, he was supposed to remain in the country but with the help of a white nun, he was smuggled over the border into Mozambique and the Zanu guerrilla camps.
‘He loves power’
After Mr Mugabe won the 1980 elections which led to independence, he pursued a policy of reconciliation with the white community despite the bitterness built up during the war.
In a national address after becoming prime minister, he declared: “If you were my enemy, you are now my friend. If you hated me, you cannot avoid the love that binds me to you and you to me.”
Four faces of Mugabe:
“He was a very nice guy. At that stage, he was not too sure of himself. There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own” – Dumiso Dabengwa
“He did everything he could to improve the lives of his people. He wanted education for all. He wanted health for all. He introduced a leadership code limiting Zanu-PF cadres to 50 acres of land” – Wilf Mbanga
“I worked very harmoniously with him and discussed issues. He would let me have my way or we would reach a compromise” – Dumiso Dabengwa
2000 – 2017:
“After 2000, he started flexing his muscles. He brought in people who he could influence. Several people were compromised – he held something over them” – Dumiso Dabengwa.
“He has become fabulously wealthy. He is not the person I knew. He changed the moment Sally died [in 1992], when he married a young gold-digger [Grace Mugabe]” – Wilf Mbanga
He allowed Ian Smith, the Rhodesian prime minister who had once declared that black people would not rule the country for 1,000 years and who reportedly personally refused to let Mr Mugabe leave prison for the funeral of his then only son, to remain both an MP and on his farm.
At this point, according to Mr Madhuku, Mr Mugabe’s hold on power was relatively weak, so he realised he had to reach out to his former enemies.
Former home affairs minister Mr Dabengwa said Mr Mugabe was even less self-confident earlier on in his political career.
“When I first met him in the 1960s, he was not sure of himself, of his position in Zanu,” Mr Dabengwa recalled.
“There were very strong people in Zanu who were not afraid to oppose him. He would never take a decision on his own but would always check with them first.”
But slowly, he consolidated control – first over the party which led the war against white-minority rule and later the country as a whole – until the point where his was the only voice that counted.
“He loves power, it’s in his DNA,” said Mr Madhuku.
Bonds forged in war
Throughout his time as president, his closest allies were always those with whom he had endured the hardships of life during the guerrilla war of independence.
When they felt their grip on power, and its trappings, were threatened, they reverted wholeheartedly to the conflict mentality.
“We are in a war to defend our rights and the interests of our people. The British have decided to take us on through the MDC,” he told a 2002 election rally.
This meant opposition supporters were denounced as traitors – a label which could mean an immediate death sentence.
Mr Chimutengwende argued that the scale of the violence was exaggerated and in any case sought to distance it from Mr Mugabe: “It is not the leader who throws a stone, or asks his followers to throw a stone.”
But Mr Dabengwa, the minister in charge of the police in 2000, said Mr Mugabe’s Zanu party had been using such methods since the 1980 election.
He said that fighters from Zanu’s armed wing had been sent out into rural areas to ensure villagers voted the “right” way, partly through all-night indoctrination sessions, known as “pungwes”.
“People were told there were magic binoculars which could tell which way they voted and there were no-go areas for other parties,” said Mr Dabengwa, whose Zapu party came a distant second in 1980.
“But the British declared those elections free and fair and so Zanu learnt that that was how to win an election.”
Although he won those elections in 1980, and formed a coalition government with Zapu, the underlying tensions burst into open violence just two years later.
Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo was accused of plotting a coup and the army’s North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade was sent to his home region of Matabeleland.
More than 20,000 people were killed in Operation Gukurahundi, which means “the early rain which washes away the chaff”.
At the time, South African double-agent Kevin Woods was making daily reports in person to then Prime Minister Mugabe for the internal security force, the Central Intelligence Organisation.
“He obviously wanted to know exactly what Fifth Brigade was doing,” he wrote in his autobiography.
In the end, a subdued Mr Nkomo once more agreed to share power with his enemy in order to end the violence in his home region – a forerunner of what later happened to the MDC.
21 February 1924: Born
1964: Jailed after being convicted of sedition
1973: Becomes Zanu leader
1980: Becomes prime minister of Zimbabwe
1987: Becomes president under new constitution agreed under deal to end Matabeleland massacres
1992: Wife Sally dies
1996: Marries Grace Marufu
2000: Loses referendum, land invasions begin
2002: Wins presidential election amid widespread violence and fraud allegations
2005: Launches Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Rubbish), which forces 700,000 urban residents from their homes – seen as punishment for opposition supporters
2008: Comes second in election, violence leads his opponent Morgan Tsvangirai to withdraw from run-off
2009: Forms coalition government
2013: Resoundingly re-elected, Tsvangirai returns to opposition
2017: Forced to resign after army seizes power
6 September 2019: Dies in Singapore, which he visits for hospital treatment
Before he was finally ousted, his political low point was in 2008, when MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai beat him in a presidential election, although not by enough for outright victory, according to the official results.
There were numerous reports Mr Mugabe was on the verge of resigning, although Mr Madhuku said he did not believe them, as the president subsequently demonstrated his determination to remain in power.
Again, a setback led to a sustained campaign of violence against his “enemies”.
The army and Zanu-PF militias attacked MDC supporters around the country, killing more than 100 and forcing thousands from their homes.
It became obvious that Zanu-PF would not relinquish its grip on power and Mr Tsvangirai withdrew from the second round, saying it was the only way to save lives.
Zimbabwe’s economy continued its freefall, reaching its nadir when people were dying from cholera in Harare because the country did not have the foreign currency to import the necessary chemicals to treat the water.
Under intense pressure, Mr Mugabe agreed to a coalition government with his long-time rival and, under MDC stewardship, the economy recovered.
But Prime Minister Tsvangirai was severely tarnished by working with Mr Mugabe – the president always managed to keep real power for himself and his allies.
By the time of the 2013 election, Mr Mugabe did not need to resort to extreme violence to win easily. He had once more demonstrated his remarkable skills of political survival and he remained in power until he was forced out in 2017.
Love-hate relationship with the UK
Mr Mugabe justified the 2000 land invasions by saying the UK’s Labour government, in power since 1997, had reneged on a British promise to fund peaceful land reform.
While it might be expected that an avowedly Marxist liberation fighter would have more in common with the Labour Party than the Conservatives, the opposite turned out to be true.
“Mrs Thatcher, you could trust her. But of course what happened later was a different story with the Labour Party and Blair, who you could never trust”
Under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the UK accepted that as the former colonial power, it had the moral duty to help finance the process of buying white-owned land and redistributing it to black farmers.
But after a report found the process had been tainted by cronyism, British funding was put on hold.
The new Labour government took matters further and declared: “We do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe.”
In 2013, Mr Mugabe observed: “Mrs Thatcher, you could trust her. But of course what happened later was a different story with the Labour Party and [former Prime Minister Tony] Blair, who you could never trust.
“Who can ever believe what Mr Blair says? Here we call him Bliar.”
Despite the vitriol directed at the UK from 2000 onwards, Mr Mugabe was in some ways the epitome of an English gentleman.
He was usually turned out in immaculate, dark, three-piece suits and ties – until he was given a makeover in 2000 and advised to campaign in brightly coloured cloth emblazoned with his own face, like many other African leaders.
Visitors to State House were always offered tea to drink and he was a huge fan of cricket.
“Cricket civilises people and creates good gentlemen. I want everyone to play cricket in Zimbabwe; I want ours to be a nation of gentlemen,” he once said.
He was educated by Jesuits in the Katuma mission near his birthplace in Zvimba, north-west of Salisbury (now Harare), where he was taken under the wing of an Irish priest, Jerome O’Hea.
This is presumably where he developed his abstemious nature – he did not drink alcohol or coffee and was largely vegetarian.
“If he had died after 10 years in power, he would have been my hero forever”
His second wife Grace said he used to wake up at 05:00 for his exercises, including yoga.
This healthy lifestyle was no doubt one reason why he lived until the age of 95.
For many years, his health was a constant source of speculation.
This prognosis turned out to be false, and on his 88th birthday Mr Mugabe joked he had “beaten Christ” because he had died and been resurrected so many times.
While he was vilified in the West, his anti-colonial rhetoric did strike a chord across Africa, even among many who condemned his human rights record.
At the 2013 memorial service in Soweto for Nelson Mandela – who replaced Mr Mugabe as Africa’s most admired anti-colonial fighter – Zimbabwe’s president was wildly cheered by the young South African crowd, even as they booed their own then leader, Jacob Zuma.
“A lot of people think that pan-Africanism is a thing of the past but that is not true,” said Mr Mugabe’s staunch ally, Chen Chimutengwende.
“While imperialism and racism exist, pan-Africanism is still needed,” he told the BBC.
But Zimbabwean journalist Wilf Mbanga said that in his latter years, Mr Mugabe had far more support outside his home country than within.
“Those young South Africans who praise him do not have to live under his rule,” he said, pointing out that many Ghanaians had less than fond memories of life under pan-African hero Kwame Nkrumah, who had inspired Mr Mugabe.
So how will Mr Mugabe be remembered?
Mr Chan said that until 2000, Mr Mugabe had a “good report card”, although the verdict later turned to “disastrous”.
“If he had died after 10 years in power, he would have been my hero forever,” said Mr Mbanga.
“But look at the schools and hospitals now.
“He has spoilt his legacy. Now, people will remember him for driving people out of Harare, Gukurahundi, election violence and everything else.”
More than half of the world’s poorest people live in sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Why is that region so poor? There are lots of theories — some blame a “colonial history.” Others blame the weather or discrimination.
But Magatte Wade, an African entrepreneur, tells John Stossel that she knows the biggest reason from her own first-hand experience: it’s crushing government regulation. “Once you hire someone, good luck getting rid of them for any reason,” she says. Her home country, Senegal, requires government permission to fire an employee. That makes it hard to run a business. It also makes entrepreneurs reluctant to hire. Then there’s the complicated tax code. “Some people say it’s worth at least two or three truckloads of paper,” she says. Hiring an accountant to wade through that is expensive for new businesses.
Magatte started a business anyway — she makes lip balm. She has to import several ingredients that are not made in Senegal. “Some of them have a 70 percent import tariff on them!” Wade complains. High taxes and complex rules often lead to corruption, because people pay bribes to get around the rules. Wade says corruption “a natural consequence of stupid senseless idiot laws… the only way to fix corruption is to simplify.” Wade’s business survives without corruption, she says.
One reason is that she was fortunate to find a bureaucrat who helped her find a way around the ruinous tariffs. “We found a clause in one of the binders saying actually if you’re exporting at least 80 percent of your products and if you’ve been in business for two years then you can ask for an exemption,” she said. Well-meaning westerners often try to help Africa with aid. Tom’s Shoes gives a pair of shoes to someone in the developing world for every pair customers buy.
But Wade points out that such donations destroy local African shoe makers. Instead of aid, she says, demand that rules be cut. That would create jobs. “If I have a job then, guess what?” Wade asks. “My malnutrition problem goes poof! My uneven access to clean water goes poof. It’s just poof, poof, poof!” “Create greater economic freedom… in all countries,” Wade concludes. “So that all people everywhere get a chance to experience free enterprise.”
The comedian’s act relentlessly mocks “PC scolds scouring social media posts to cancel people out” and jokes about stereotypes and “woke culture,” leading Vice to denounce the special as “transphobic and worse.”
And Chappelle is just one of a growing number of comedians criticizing “cancel culture,” from Adam Carolla to Jim Gaffigan to Jerry Seinfeld to even “far-left comic” Sarah Silverman.
“It’s worth noting that Netflix didn’t cut ties with Chappelle following the press outrage over his last special” — indeed, it gave him this new one. “On that level alone, Chappelle just scored a major victory in the Culture Wars. Now, will his peers join the fight?”
And while “we can make facile jokes about avocado toast and baristas with degrees in cultural studies” he is “not sure we should find them amusing.”
The crisis of modern loneliness is but one facet of an atomized, soulless society: “We cannot concentrate on anything. We don’t go anywhere, not even to buy food or diapers. . . . The richer we happen to be, the less likely we are to take time off to enjoy ourselves, despite generous vacation allowances.
The poorer we are, the more likely we are to kill ourselves with drugs, alcohol and guns. Even fornication is boring — we have porn for that.”