Hate Speech. What causes it and what are it's ramifications?
This little and simple article is definitely a continuation of my almost twenty-eight years quest for Justice and Peace for our beloved country where there is everything but Love, Justice and Peace. Too bad indeed.
The article is also triggered by the exponential upsurge in hate speech in Cameroon and beyond. As a Justice and Peace crusader, and as one who has no kind words for embezzlers and predators it is incumbent upon my humble self to situate the current situation within its proper context even if I may only be repeating myself over and over again.
Yet, what is hate speech? Hate speech though loosely used by so many is described by others as threatening and wanton words, articles that attack particular groups especially on the basis of minority, race, sexual orientation, religion, colour, belief, ethnicity, nationality and education. Hate Speech is also any kind of communication in writing, speech, behavior, action, character that hurts or attacks, uses pejorative or selective language that makes reference to a group of people who are deprived or marginalized. The definition might be varied and various, but it stems from one thing- absence of love, Justice, equity leading to ANGER/FRUSTRATION resulting in- VIOLENCE, CHAOS AND ANARCHY.
Truth be told, when God created Cameroon like many other Nations, He provided for His people sufficient resources for their welfare. It is true that Adam and Eve played into the hands of the devil who tricked them into violating God's strict instructions. (Spare me details). Both of them fell and sin found itself in the world.
Despite God's anger, He, in His infinite love for His people still sent Prophets to turn things around without success. He later on sent His only begotten son Jesus Christ to transform His people. These same people rebelled against Him and crucified him even though He committed no crime.
Today we are engulfed in Hate, greed, fear, graft, embezzlement, bribery and corruption, discrimination, tribalism, favoritism, xenophobia, regionalism, hypocrisy, falsehood, marginalization, lies, human rights and liberties abuse, election rigging etc etc etc. Are these not the platform on which Hate speech thrives abundantly? The answer is a big YES. Can we who are promoters of the above fight Hate speech? The answer is a big NO. I challenge some of us; all over our country who are condemning hate speech whether we have the moral authority to fight Hate Speech! How can we condemn what we promote? This is certainly very hypocritical and impossible. If we MUST fight Hate speech, we MUST start from what causes Hate speech otherwise it would be an effort in futility.
How can we fight Hate speech when we cannot respect the Rule of law of our land? Are we truly patriotic?
How can we fight Hate speech when discrimination is promoted at all the echelons of our society? Where there is discrimination there is hate speech.
How can we fight Hate speech when the core moral values of love, Justice, equity, transparency, accountability, integrity, truth, patriotism, respect of human rights and liberties, credibility etc that should be espoused to constitute the platform of our daily activities are treated with levity?
How can we fight Hate speech when meritocracy has given way to mediocrity?
How can we fight Hate speech when some of those who receive awards, distinctions and medals are of questionable character?
Some time ago I met with someone I know at an event who boasted that he has occupied high positions within our society and even trumpeted that he is one of the most bilingual and educated Cameroonians. I chatted with him for about twenty minutes and told him straight that I do not value his learned stature as most Cameroonians know him as corrupt and election rigger and that he had nothing to offer as he was morally bankrupt. I reminded him of his quest for power and money by corrupt means that people know. He was ashamed when I disclosed to him in the presence of another friend what he had done when he worked at one of our institutions. Can such a person fight Hate speech? Absolutely no, because he is partly responsible for those in abject poverty idling around.
How can we fight Hate speech when poverty and unemployment are our mainstay? A hungry and an unemployed person is a fertile ground for Hate Speech.
How can we fight Hate speech when elections are rigged at almost all levels of our society? About 85% of uprising in the world emanate from rigged elections. See what happens at Cultural Associations, in our Communities, our global Churches, within Political parties, within the civil society, even in the Bar Association where the Rule of law ought to be the watch word.
How can we fight Hate speech when Religious structures that ought to be a moral force to reckon with have degenerated into despicable moral decadence?
How can we fight Hate speech when parents do no longer bring up their children in the way of the Lord? Proverbs 22:6
The fear of the Lord which should be the beginning of wisdom has now been transformed into the fear of money, power, position etc is the beginning of wisdom.
How can we fight Hate speech when religious knowledge and moral education do not feature in the curriculum of our children's studies? Five "O" level papers without Religious Knowledge; or Two "A" level papers without Religious Knowledge. Are we not saying that five or two papers without God? So how does this situation bring up the child in the way of the Lord? Answer blowing in the wind.
How can one who promotes corruption, bribery, graft, discrimination, tribalism, division, divide and rule, hypocrisy, falsehood, xenophobia, violence, bitterness, frustration, sycophancy, surrogacy, bootlicking, praise singing, idol worshiping etc etc etc fight Hate speech? All of these vices virtually promote hate speech.
Even if we are not scrupulously respecting the Rule of law of our Country let us at least ask for direction from our awesome God. This is the person whose boots we should lick daily by going on our knees and asking for forgiveness after repenting from our sins.
Why is it that even some of the books that could even lead us into being patriotic are systematically spurned?
I have had occasion of reading and re-reading many great books on Goodness, Audacity of Hope, and Lamentation for a beloved Country, Nation Building, the Politics of Jesus, Rigour and Moralization, The Seven Habits of highly effective people. These books have inspired and molded me a lot.
These books were good yesterday and are today still relevant for a society that wants to live in peace and harmony. If these books had been imbibed at all echelons of our body polity, we would have long emerged as Cameroon is blessed with huge natural and human resources. We would have also avoided the socio-political crisis rocking the NW/SW Regions of our country. Most Cameroonians I know are very intelligent in almost all areas of life. Unfortunately, academia that is devoid of core moral values represents almost nothing. Such academia cannot build a great Nation.
Yet, why have these books been spurned? This is because by implementing their contents embezzlers and grafters would no longer have their way. They have over the years looted and plundered the resources thereby creating poverty and unemployment. Despicable.
These books imply that the Rule of law would be respected by all and sundry thereby curbing inequalities that are fertile grounds for frustration and of course Hate Speech. Intrigues, greed, vaulting and inordinate ambitions, unbridled quest for power, recognition and position, manipulations, lies, cover ups, and FEAR are largely responsible for most of frustrations leading to Hate Speech.
The socio-political crisis in the NW/SW Regions are still very pre-occupying owing to a couple of reasons. Some of the key players, call them stake holders have NEVER told the truth because of FEAR. They fear to lose friendship, they fear to lose benefits, favours, advantages, promotions, appointments or reappointments, grandeur, titles, awards, glamour, splendour and what have you!
People have forgotten that all the above attributes no matter how we acquired them will slip off our fingers when God wills it. I have always reminded myself that there is no position or anything I possess anywhere that I cannot let go when it comes to standing for the truth and defending general interest. We have also forgotten that our live here on earth is ephemeral and that we have a responsibility to leave the world better than we met it. We have also forgotten that amassing wealth to the detriment of our brothers and sisters is a heinous crime against humanity and that we shall all be held accountable to our creator for all our deeds. We even forget that we came empty and will leave the world empty.
Some people are insensitive to the many civilians, and army that are perishing in the senseless war in the NW/SW Regions. Some of us are more interested in how much money we make on the blood of our brothers and sisters dying in their great numbers. Those countries manufacturing arms are making brisk business. Terrible. Others are making political capital of the crisis. A big SHAME to us all. There is always time for reckoning when all will be said and done.
Finally, when the Pope's representative visited Cameroon recently he re-echoed what I have been recommending since about four years now on how we can honestly solve the socio-political crisis in the NW/SW regions: namely the creation of a Justice, Peace and Reconciliation platform. This will constitute the platform for honest, objective, inclusive dialogue to hold. For this to happen smoothly, some preliminary measures should be taken to create an enabling environment. I still stand by this crusade and pray that God should show the people of this beloved country the right way to come out of the crisis.
While this is the way, Spiritual and Moral Rearmament should be highlighted at all the facets of the country. Hate Speech must be tackled holistically especially at the grassroots where we find about 90% of frustration owing to the fact the people are living in abject squalor.
Like JF Kennedy, I will always ask myself what I can do for my country and not what my country can do for me. This I shall continue to do till my Creator calls me home whenever He wishes. It is not about perfection as nobody is perfect. It is about being useful to humanity our frailties apart.
I pray and pray and pray for God’s people.
Barrister Nico Halle