The Snare of Dangerous Propaganda

By Saye R. Gbetu

The Perspective

September 21, 2001

I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to President Charles Taylor for issuing the order to deploy the National Police throughout Liberia to stave off any attempt to glorify Osama Bin Laden through the sale of his photographs in our country. My hat is also off for Police Director, Paul Mulbah, for carrying out the President's order in a swift and responsible manner. The President, along with his Police Director, deserves commendation for saving our country from the appearance of harboring sympathy for Osama Bin Laden and people capable of pulling off the calculated evil and horrendous act of terror visited upon the people of the United States on September 11, 2001.

Indeed both President Taylor and Director Mulbah did the right thing at the right time. Similarly, by going to their various places of worship on September 16, 2001 for a memorial service in honor of those feared dead or missing in the September 11, 2001 tragedy in New York City and Washington, DC, my fellow countrymen and women demonstrated Liberia's humaneness. Additionally, they showed a tender and caring side of the Liberian people the outside world has not seen for over a decade. Thank you for sharing in the sorrows of the many who lost their loved ones.

Having said that, I must, for the love of country, help our people discern better so that the kind of behavior BBC's Monrovia correspondent, Jonathan Paye-Lahley, reported on September 17, 2001 is not repeated in the future. In view of the foregoing, my countrymen and women, permit me to praise with the tongue while I bite with the teeth. An unusual circumstance requires an unusual response. We have here a situation in which a cheating husband finds himself cornered, that is, being caught by his own son. Before the son found out what was happening, the man succeeded in hiding his mistress into the closet. Every morning, the obedient son sorts out the clothes his dad wears for ironing. On the day of his troubling discovery, his mother was away on a trip. As such, he felt that he did not need any permission to enter into his parents' room. Unfortunately, upon opening the closet to get his dad's clothes, he discovered his dad's mistress. The man, unable to explain, made up a lie and told his son that the lady was a thief. In a rage not uncommon in Monrovia during encounters with thieves, the stoutly built young man forced the lady out and paraded her in the public while shouting rogue! Rogue! Rogue! Rogue!

But Mr. Gbetu, what does this "cheating husband" analogy have to do with the American tragedy? Well, remember that numerous promises were made to the young people who participated in what I prefer to call the "DeathVolution." Also, remember that the Liberian people were promised that paradise would be created when victory shall have been won. Regrettably, when it turned out to be hell instead of paradise, those who made the promises did not have the galls to face the people and their supporters to admit that they lied. Banking on the adage that a liar's witness is always five thousand miles away, they concurrently ripped off the country, abandoned their fighters and the Liberian people, and launched an "Africanized" propaganda campaign. In this propaganda campaign, one hand was used to aim the gun at the masses while the other was used to point to the United States and Great Britain as the monsters responsible for their sufferings.

The sad truth is that, to this point, they have succeeded. When a lie is told over and over and again, it assumes reality. Nobody, therefore, should be surprised at why the poor people have been sitting down in the stench of Monrovia and turning their heads away in fear from the guns and those who plunged them into hell on earth. During the wake of the imposition of sanctions on Liberia, for example, the poor masses, without knowing the in and out of what has been happening to our country, have been fixating their eyes, grinding their teeth, and directing their anger at the United States.

So, inasmuch as I stretched out my tongue beyond limit in praise of the powers that be in Monrovia, I think most people can see the hypocrisy and charade beyond the smokescreen. How in the world can the very people who have been feeding the masses this kind of invidious propaganda suggest that the negative sentiments some expressed about the American tragedy is not the policy of the Liberian Government? Are not these negative unsympathetic comments now purportedly shunned by the government a result of the lies and big mouth particularly made lately against the United States expressly to win popularity and strengthen political power in Liberia?

Folks, I think it takes more than puffed up chests and a shallow disclaimer in order to be counted among those who truly sympathize with the American people. Make no mistake! I will expose these shams with the same vengeance with which our country has been hurried into its ruins.

For our people too, it seems it is quite easy to forget that the United States was the only country that not only refused to close its embassy during the Liberian carnage, but also remained our only lifeline. Perhaps it is that easy to forget that many collect-calls originating from Liberia are directed to the United States. Maybe, just maybe, it is so easy to forget the cash remittances that flow daily into Liberia.

Finally, let me conclude with the moral of the "cheating husband" analogy. A lie is a lie and, call it propaganda, "Africanized" propaganda, or whatever you may, it harms. Unlike a bullet from an AK-47, which only harms the person to whom the barrel points, a lie harms the person against whom it is directed as well as he or she who engages in it. Now, if the cheating husband were to chase his son in the public in an attempt to stop him from shaming the mistress by saying that he did not tell him that she was a thief, who would buy his disclaimer?

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