Robert Mugabe Won the Zimbabwe Elections, Again
Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean-hero-cum-tireless-dictator, is undoubtedly toasting the gods after claiming a 61 percent majority in last week’s presidential elections. And the cherry on the top of his seventh consecutive win was that his Zanu-PF party also emerged victorious, winning 160 out of a possible 210 parliamentary seats.
The election process was deemed free and fair by observers from both the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Committee (SADC). But the main opposition party, MDC-T, are crying foul play, with leader Morgan Tsvangirai labeling the elections “a huge farce” and the results “null and void.”
Tsvangirai’s party accuse Zanu-PF of rigging the votes and intimidating people into electing Mugabe for another five-year term. A large section of the public also believe this, a local domestic worker telling me, “My friends in Masvingo, they have said that they voted Zanu-PF. They were too scared of what might happen to them if they don’t. They don’t want the violence we saw last time.”
The Voting Rights Act Is a Mess, but We Still Need It
The Supreme Court ruled today that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which said that some (mostly Southern) states and communities in the US had to ask the federal government for permission to change their voting rules and procedures, was unconstitutional. The majority of the court held that while the South used to be hella racist back in the 60s, things are now way more chill, thanks in part to the VRA, so the law doesn’t need to exist in its current form. Right-wingers celebrated this as a victory for federalsim (or whatever), while the MSNBC crowd mourned this as the destruction of one of the most important laws of the Civil Rights era—an NAACP official said, “Today will be remembered as a step backwards in the march towards equal rights.”
Now, I don’t think that every single person who opposes Section 4 is a racist. I know it’s not fun being called a racist. When I was in sixth grade, I was accused of being a Nazi because I was making a picture of B.J. Blazkowicz, the hero from Wolfenstein 3D, busting a cap in a Nazi’s ass. To portray this accurately, I had to draw the Nazi’s swastika armband, and according to some of my classmates, this made me Nazi. My teachers, fortunately, didn’t take any of this seriously because at 12 I looked like a rabbi in a Tazmanian Devil T-shirt. The following week, another kid wore highwaters to school and that took the heat off me.
You know what’s worse than being accused of racism, though? Having racism directed at you, which is something that happens in the United States fairly frequently. There were 2,924 racially-motivated hate crimes in 2011, the most recent year statistics are available for, and there was an actual lynching of an African-American in Texas as recently as 1998.
More statistics: According to a 2011 Gallup poll, 84 percent of white Americans approved of interracial marriage. But, framed another way, 16 percent of whites disapprove of interracial marriage. You can slice off part of the population, like Mississippians. Another survey, this one from Public Policy Polling, found that 46 percent of Mississippi Republicans, unbelievably, think that whites shouldn’t be allowed to marry blacks. That is some old-timey racism, of the sort that isn’t that uncommon in Mississippi—which is the whole reason the VRA exists in the first place.