Has absence made the heart grow fonder? I hope so.
I’m back from speaking about South Africa at the Free Speech Forum of the Texas A&M University, on the College Station campus.
A remarkable young man, the president of the Texas A&M Free Speech Forum, invited me to speak for reasons that astounded and gave hope.
The Forum, I was told, doesn’t seek out the conservative/libertarian speakers, who’re usually invited on campus by “the established, libertarian/conservative/republican groups.”
You know. That boilerplate content.
“It is not our place to host them,” I was emphatically informed by one so young.
“Rather, we provide a platform for those who would not be invited otherwise by these established libertarian/conservative/republican group.”
I was further told that the Texas A&M Free Speech Forum criteria are “whether one is an expert in his or her field.”
Oh! So what the hosts had in mind was not a power-point, low-information presentation, with lots of gory images and a few recycled facts, harvested from one or two online posts!
Your history in the country as well as your seminal work, “Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons For America from Post-Apartheid South Africa,” make you, in particular, stand out as the most qualified figure to present on the topic [of South Africa], in addition to specific requests to host you personally.
Imagine! A forum seeking thinkers who’re not part of the popular speakers’ circuit!
Here were young men who understood that those voices making the most noise about conservative freedom of speech denied were not necessarily the ones truly marginalized.
Having been given this opportunity, I aimed to provide a backdrop—the analytical foundation, if you will—for what’s unfolding in my birthplace of South Africa.
From land confiscation to the ethnic cleansing of the waning minority—I tried to explain why what’s happening in South Africa was baked into the political cake; was predictable, and was, to a large degree, the doing of the West.
The concept of white privilege was woven in as well.
To travel all the way to College Station, Texas, and not experience more of the “Lone Star State” was not an option. After driving from Austin eastward to College Station, we headed south-west to San Antonio, where we stayed for two days. Then it was a long drive back to Austin.
Other than the weather (brutal), Texas is a civilization apart. I live in a state in which the Yankee, busybody mentality dominates, as friend Professor Clyde Wilson would say. People are unfriendly, opprobrious, stuck-up, and, frankly, boring.
They tell you how to live. If they get wind of your beliefs—why, even if your use of the English language makes them uneasy—they will take it upon themselves to fix your flaws; to read you the riot act. Make you more “manageable.” More like them.
While civility and congeniality are generally not part of the Yankee repertoire; ordinary Texans, on the other hand—and from my brief experience—tend to be sunny, kind and warmhearted. I did not encounter rude.
As for telling you how to live; how do you like this sign? It’s from the ladies’ bathroom in a Caldwell diner.
With two impeccably mannered, young gentlemen, who organized EVERYTHING:
The San Antonio River Walk is teaming with adorable, brazen birds. It sports zero barriers to protect the brats (people mind their kids):
The Alamo garden:
Everybody was down with the birds scavenging leftovers. A restaurant put up a memorial to its resident duck, whose neck had been wrung by, as they put it, scumbag, human trash, homeless riffraff. In Washington State we have only honorifics for such scumbags .
Chapel at Mission Concepción, San Antonio:
This specter formed part of my address/lecture:
Just spoke to the Texas A&M Free Speech Forum (@TAMU) about THIS, among much else: live stock brutally mutilated by squatters who occupy, for purpose of claiming, South-African farm land. pic.twitter.com/OMY12ZNugY https://t.co/owZvgVeLdC
— Ilana Mercer (@IlanaMercer) May 6, 2018
‘Indigenisation’ of the law:
Just spoke to the Texas A&M #FreeSpeech Forum about the 'Indigenisation' of the law in #SouthAfrica, among much else: SA had a rigorous Roman-Dutch legal tradition. Now it's got African tribal law, minus the benefits of death penalty:… https://t.co/z9RrYCeFhJ
— Ilana Mercer (@IlanaMercer) May 6, 2018
UPDATE II (5/8): Jack Kerwick has as hopeful an encounter as I had. We discuss.