By any sane measure, it is absurd to compare an evil, despotic maniac like Robert Mugabe to either Margaret Thatcher or Ronald Reagan.

Rather as constant exposure to harsh sunlight can lead to dermatological problems and possibly even skin cancer, it seems that constant exposure to leftists can also be detrimental to one’s health.

We saw this earlier this year when poor little rich girl Kelly-Jo Bluen stood up at an IRR event in London and made a complete fool of herself in front of the entire audience by denouncing the IRR as a ‘white supremacist hate group’. Clearly that expensive private education might not have been money well spent after all.

Unfortunately, with ‘leftism’ it’s not simply a case of slapping on the anti-Marxist factor 30 and wearing a wide-brimmed hat for protection. The weird ideas of the loony left are rather like the after-effects of crop-spraying and can be transported in microscopically small droplets in the air which it is all too easy to breathe in. I fear Daily Maverick assistant editor and regular columnist Marianne Thamm may be thus afflicted after I read this tweet last week:

@MarianneThamm If the US and the UK can bury Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher and pretend they are heroes then you understand why Robert Mugabe gets treated the same way in Zimbabwe. That is the tragedy of the world. Those who have caused so much pain in life are venerated in death.

At the time of writing, she had received 274 responses to this tweet, many of them incredulous and some rudely suggesting that she shouldn’t drink and tweet. I have the highest regard for Marianne Thamm’s writing, but I really couldn’t let this one pass without comment.

Allowing for the fact that Ms Thamm and I may well have differing political perspectives (in that I believe that capitalism, for all its faults, is a better system of wealth- and job-creation than the central state control that Ms Thamm appears to favour) it does seem absurd to compare an evil, despotic maniac like Mugabe to either Thatcher or Reagan.

For example, how many citizens of the United Kingdom and the United States left those countries in desperation for a better life elsewhere during their premierships?  (OK…I did, admittedly, but how many others?)

And did Maggie Thatcher send North Korean forces to wipe out her Labour supporting political enemies in her Finchley constituency? If she did, it was well covered up by the media.

I am aware that she forced many council-house owners to reluctantly become capitalists by allowing them to purchase their government-owned homes at below market prices. Those that refused were shot….no, hang on, they weren’t shot, they were allowed to live in the same homes as rent-paying tenants. Those that decided to buy enjoyed an unprecedented rise in property prices and almost certainly experienced the true benefits of capitalism for the first time in their lives.

After the disastrous period in the 1970s when the UK was forced to go to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout, Thatcher presided over a government that brought increased prosperity to all those who were willing to work for a living. She also squared up to the powerful trade unions, which had been a key factor in the UK becoming known as the ‘sick man of Europe’.

Likewise, Ronald Reagan spurred economic growth with what became known as ‘Reaganomics’; ended the Cold War; challenged Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall; launched a war on drugs; and left office after two terms with an approval rating of 68%.

Politics is politics and while neither Reagan or Thatcher, or more particularly their administrations, can be described as ‘angels’, to suggest that the pain they caused compares with Mugabe’s devastating legacy is plainly gaga and not worthy of anybody hoping to be taken seriously as a political commentator.

The only possible reason I can think of for Ms Thamm’s extraordinarily dumb comment is a desire to ingratiate herself with the thuggish leadership of the Economic Freedom Fighters. You may remember she wrote an excellent piece, post the last SONA, detailing their extravagant spending habits and their fondness for premium booze at other people’s expense. There was also a hint that some young women were left on the pavement the morning after, looking for ways to get home. This didn’t go down terribly well with the Red Onesie gang, and I imagine that, post Barry Bateman, journos are a bit on edge lest there should be more violent recriminations.

So Ms Thamm’s ‘Mugabe wasn’t such a bad guy really’ tweet is hopefully nothing more than a bit of survival arse-kissing on her part. Let’s give her the benefit of the doubt.

‘Untitled’ doggerel

I just knew my A-level pass in English Literature would eventually come in handy. One of the many skills we had to master in that arduous subject was the ability to read a poem, dissect it, explain why it worked so well and show our understanding of what the poet was trying to convey. This was well nigh impossible with Chaucer, which we had to study in its original Middle English version, but the likes of Wordsworth and Keats were pretty straightforward by comparison.

All these skills, acquired half a century ago, came back to me last week when I read a ‘poem’ by Antjie Krog delivered at the memorial service for murdered theology student Jesse Hess on the News24 website. Here’s the final verse, which will give you some idea of the imagery preceding it:

distinct our tits can hiss a copper kettle sound

our hands can clasp Moordbaai and Bekbaai

our hands can tear ecstatically past our heads:

we should be

we should be

god hears us

free fucking women

I described the poem as ‘doggerel’ on my Twitter feed and nobody seemed to disagree. I mean, what the hell is a ‘copper kettle sound’ and why on earth would you want your tits to hiss it? And if your hands are tearing ecstatically past your head where exactly are they going? Nothing makes much sense but this is ‘slam’ poetry which means it doesn’t need to use capital letters, rhyme, have any form or make any sense.

The clue is in the title, which is ‘Untitled’; a strong indication that the poet also had no idea what it was all about. You could get much the same effect by typing random words on a sheet of paper, cutting them all out and placing them face down on a table, then picking them out in no particularly order and stringing them together. But, just in case I was missing the point completely I consulted a more academically inclined friend who is a published poet and asked advice. The response was ‘Horrendous. Such a narcissistic exploitation of the dead. The worst thing about the virtue signaler is their self praise, which is implicit in everything they do’.

Those of you familiar with the brilliant parody account @TitaniaMcGrath on Twitter may recognize a similar style in her own radical intersectionalist poetry.

Wrinkled and twatsauced

We bleed

Brazen like leaking sirens,

Finflapping on an unknown shore,

Calling to cocksure sailors with throbbing thumbs.

The difference is that one is taking the piss and the other is taking herself seriously. Scary isn’t it?

David Bullard is a columnist, author and celebrity public speaker known for his controversial satire.

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the IRR.

If you like what you have just read, become a Friend of the IRR if you aren’t already one by SMSing your name to 32823 or clicking here. Each SMS costs R1.’ Terms & Conditions Apply.

Previous articleIs South Africa deranged?
Next articleFreedom of Expression
After 27 years in financial markets in London and Johannesburg David Bullard had a mid life career change and started writing for the Sunday Times. His "Out to Lunch" column ran for 14 years and was generally acknowledged to be one of the best read columns in SA with a readership of 1.7mln every week. Bullard was sacked by the ST for writing a "racist" column in 2008 and carried on writing for a variety of online publications and magazines. He currently writes for dailyfriend.co.za and politicsweb.co.za.