Obliviously Offending the World, Teabag Edition

by Noni Mausa

From the NEWS.com.au Australian :
news service

Tea Party Obama ‘witchdoctor’ slur offends PNG October 01, 2009 02:46pm

PAPUA New Guinea tribesmen have demanded an apology from American political satirists who used their traditional dress in a witchdoctor slur against US President Barack Obama.

In the offending image, a headshot of Mr Obama was superimposed on a photograph of a PNG Highlands region man in full traditional costume, supposedly to portray the black President as an African witchdoctor.

Damien Arabagali, Hela Gimbu Association chairman, said PNG’s Foreign Affairs Minister and Cultural Minister would have to take up their demand.

[…]

HGA lawyer Alfred Kaibe, who wore his traditional Hela costume when sitting as a member of Parliament in 2001, said his people did not see the funny side.

“It borders on racism, to us and the US President,” he said. “The connotation is this type of dress is for witchcraft…This is our traditional costume; we are proud of it.”

Another HGA member suggested that if no apology was forthcoming the $16 billion ExxonMobil liquefied natural gas project based in the region could be jeopardised…

Well, maybe not. But maybe.

Good prospects of reopening Bougainville copper mine.
There are ‘positive prospects’ for reopening the Panguna copper mine in Papua New Guinea’s Autonomous Bougainville province, with local landowners planning a major reconciliation. The mine was closed nearly 20 years ago during a secessionist conflict led by the late Francis Ona, which was sparked by landowner issues and environmental damage caused by the mine……The Bougainville conflict that broke out in 1989, when rebels under the leadership of the late secessionist, Francis Ona, attacked the mine workers and installations over environmental pollution they alleged the mine was causing.

The mine was abandoned, and thousands of Bougainvilleans died in the subsequent civil war before a peace accord was reached in 2001.

Words and images have power, and not just in the intended direction . It doesn’t seem likely that the offensive images fostered by the American tea partiers will have force enough to reach around the world and effect the business dealings of ExxonMobil…

But they might.

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