For greater than two months now, I’ve been often posting quasi-satirical tweets on the US elections and their aftermath from my residence in Kenya, within the type of international correspondents reporting on occasions within the “third world”.
My purpose has been to puncture that extensively accepted concept that the globe is split between those that have achieved democratic nirvana and people of us nonetheless looking for enlightenment on the toes of western gurus, chanting their mantras of electoral reform and accountability. This week – for a second – I apprehensive whether or not the reality was now past satire.
It’s now clear these gurus have been merely fellow vacationers, whose wealth had extra to do with iniquity than nirvana. In lots of circumstances, “third world” elections have been run higher than elections within the US, and as one correspondent in Colombia reminded a US host overrated with concepts of superiority: “We haven’t had any mobs storming the congress right here for a number of many years.”
Whereas following the final thrust of this disastrous election, my Twitter thread has been taking some inventive liberties, for instance placing condemnatory phrases within the mouths of African diplomats and leaders in response to the newest outrage from Donald Trump.
Nonetheless, I might have had a tough time arising with one thing to match the occasions and aftermath of 6 January, when a mob of what I’ve known as “Christianist, anti-math extremists” stormed the US Capitol throughout a joint session of Congress to certify the outcomes of the US election.
Stuffed to the brim with explosive Trumpian denials of loss, false allegations of fraud, and fired up by the president himself, the rioters have been unstoppable.
The carnage tragically price 5 folks, together with a Capitol police officer, their lives. Whereas it could have ended Trump’s – mainstream – political future, it poses a critical risk to my thread.
The breathtaking pace with which the election script was flipped made it nearly unimaginable for me, greater than 12,000km away, to maintain up.
“Satire writes itself,” we’re wont to say at occasions like this. It’s a straightforward factor to say when Trump sycophants like Senator Lindsey Graham are lining as much as condemn the president within the hope that the blinding mild from the regime’s supernova implosion will obscure their file. However it actually doesn’t. We satirists nonetheless have to put in writing it and we are able to develop into an endangered species when the information gives it free of charge. Nonetheless, I needn’t have apprehensive. Assist was at hand. All that was referred to as for was some perspective.
You see, the reactions to the occasions, within the US and around the globe – shock, anger, outrage, concern and in some quarters, similar to within the Zimbabwe state home, glee – have been predicated on assumptions about what America was. And that concept didn’t get up too nicely to scrutiny.
We had all been bamboozled over the course of many years to imagine the US actually was what it stated it was – a shining metropolis on a hill, a beacon for the nations – not what it did. It was a first-world nation that at occasions behaved just like the third-world “shithole nations” (Donald Trump) the place the remainder of us reside. The charade continued even after this with Joe Biden proclaiming that “the scenes of chaos on the Capitol don’t replicate the true America, don’t symbolize who we’re”.
Not true. Within the mild of Trump’s self-immolation, I skilled an epiphany. America was not a primary world nation behaving like a 3rd world “shithole nation” –it was a primary world shithole nation.
The actual fact is the US had lengthy been such. Its election system was an anachronistic mess lengthy earlier than the storming of the Capitol. Its imperial presidency remains to be the stuff of third world nightmares and its sycophantic legislature is paying homage to our daytime realities. It could have extra stuff and larger weapons, however at coronary heart the west is solely a richer model of the remaining.
I got here to see that my thread was not about reporting the US as an African nation, as some have prompt. Reasonably it was about overlaying it as first world nations needs to be coated – whether or not diseased and ethnically divided, in North America or in sub-Scandinavian Europe, or past, whether or not nuclear-armed and oil-rich, with time period limits or ruled for many years on finish by nonagenarian monarchs. We must always forgo the propaganda and have a look at America as America really is, with all its failures and hypocrisies.
“When somebody exhibits you who they’re, imagine them,” Maya Angelou instructed us. America had carried out simply that. I simply wanted to imagine it.
With that, the world was put to rights.
Patrick Gathara is a Kenyan political cartoonist, satirist and author. His Twitter deal with is @gathara