Liberia and the Pandemic of Pretense

By: Atty. Isaac W. Jackson, Jr.

Liberia is an interesting country; in that, some of our smart brothers have allowed themselves to be manipulated into a position of utter idiocy in the name of belonging to a particular political camp. It is difficult to wrap one’s head around a solidarity message in support of a conduct that is illustrative of one of Liberia’s major problems, i.e., plunder & pillage of the nation’s coffers. By trying to cover up the lack of discretion on the part of our political buddies, are we demonstrating loyalty to the national interest or our friends?

Early this morning, I read an interesting post from one of our brothers, arguing that his political godfather has returned the controversial US$15k; as such, his chief needed not to be criticized any further. Upon reading the post, I quickly realized that Liberia was not only experiencing the dangerous form of sycophancy, but drowning in the pandemic of pretense.

In the first instance, how can anyone in good conscience try to withhold genuine criticisms against a fellow who won an election on the basis of not just projecting himself as a change agent but, effectively criticized the lack of transparency, pillage and plunder by Senators, now turn around to accept US$15k in the name of a controversial legislative project? US$15k may sound like small money to some; however, if one were to multiply that amount by 30 or by 107, the moral question arises as to when will some of these pretentious and greedy politicians put front and center the plight of the suffering masses?

You see, it is downright frustrating that in an attempt to remain loyal to some of these glib politicians, their slavish supporters blur the distinction between doing right and being right. In a way, doing right has manipulative tendencies, in that, there are people in the world who’ll say and even do the right things but for the wrong reasons. Those are the present-day political Pharisees! Conversely, being right is the highest standard because it speaks to consistency and one’s character.  As John Dewey puts it, character is the inner-penetration of habit. Hence, declaring oneself as a change agent or an anti-corruption warrior is not enough; the commitment to such assertion must be reflected in one’s character.  Hence, from the look of things, it seems that the brother in question is struggling under the weight of his own declaration: surreptitiously taking money from Albert Chie under the cover of darkness as well as collecting campaign money from a condemned FIFA fraudster in the person of Musa Bility; as well as dividing money (US$6,000) among his colleague-lawmakers when quarantine centers were without beddings and PPEs.

The crucial point is, if the brother’s advocacy were about being right, his first reaction to the US$15k would have been downright rejection, followed by a solid moral argument that the amount was not in alignment with his advocacy and value judgment. Regrettably, the brother took the money, and his childish maneuvers to use LACE to save face has backfired spectacularly.  The pretenses are fast catching up with the conman; he didn’t need a huge public pushback to vomit the US$15k. So, what obtaining now is a classic display of doing right – placating his slavishly sycophantic supporters into chocking on another garbage – the fig leaf theory at play.

Now, having highlighted aspects of the dangerous form of sycophancy with the pandemic of pretense racking Liberia, it is important to state that I almost laughed my socks off when I read that the Judiciary, Headed by Chief Justice Francis Korkpor, Sr. recently organized a judicial conference with theme: “LAW, PUBLIC POLICY & THE ECONOMY”.

The truism that wonders never cease is still alive! What is Chief Justice Korkpor pretending about? Is it respect for the Law, public policy, the economy or he’s just trying to copy former Chief Justice Johnny Lewis in a bid to shamelessly rescue his drowning reputation?   Because, in adjudicating the facticity of recent developments at the Judiciary, one wonders how could  Chief Justice Korkpor in clear conscience have organized such conference when he did not only preside over the infamous defenestration of Justice Kabineh Ja’neh; manifested absolute indifference to the suffering of Achie Ponpon; as well as ordaining himself, in obvious repudiation of the principles of natural justice: Article 20 (a) of the Constitution, and Judicial canons 9, 10, 11, 16 and 28 to be my accuser, judge and punisher by suspending my license to practice law without affording me the right to be heard by his Bench?

Today, as a result of Justice Korkpor’s unpalatable action, not only my innocent children and I are still struggling to overcome the painful wounds of injustice, but the story is the same with Associate Justice Ja’neh, Achie Ponpon and other invisible Liberians who have been licking at the deep wounds of injustice in silence.

Besides, has Justich Korkpor offered any apology for his revisionist attempt to miseducate and downplay the incredulous human rights violations that took place during the infamous 1979 Rice Riot? Imagine, the Chief Justice of Liberia using the lectern at the Supreme Court to declare that those jailed as a result of organizing the demonstration were not political prisoners, even though they were charged with treason!  From the look of things, no matter what this man does now, he’s likely to go down as one of our worse Chief Justices.

Now, for Liberia to have a fighting chance against the pandemic of pretence, our people need to put emphasis on vigorously scrutinising the moral CVs of those we give power – be it elected or appointed power. As for the disease of sycophancy, whereby people unconscionably defend their bosses or political godfathers, I know of no medicament.  The disease is huge. The source of the disease is what Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., described as the drum major instinct, the desire for recognition; the desire to be praised, even when we know we are not doing well; and there are those among us who will irreligiously exploit this instinct for their selfish benefit. Hence, our collective challenge!

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