September 29, 2004

Jack Straw's Handshake

Amid the controversy surrounding Jack Straw's handshake with President Mugabe one thing stood out for me. Was it the fact that Straw was ambushed into meeting Mugabe? Not really. Or that he shook the hand of a murdering Dictator who is systematically starving half his population and turning his nation into a pariah state. Not even that. Both can be explained in the 'Real Politik' of UN business. No, none of those. What shocked me the most was Jack Straw's explanation. "It was dark and I couldn't really see who's hand I was shaking". Come again? Perhaps Mr. Mugabe should have done the decent thing and smiled so you could see him better Jack? Shaking the hand of a brutal dictator and legitimising, in part, his rule is one thing. Racism is quite another.