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19.07.2009 Feature Article

Letter to Jomo Mr Limbaugh's Beef Or The Peter King Principle

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To suppress the truth can inflict grave injury to a good conscience. Opening one's trap wide and belting out putrid gas in the name of honest commentary on the other hand, could ignite a world war or ruin a great relationship, yah?

I guess the middle ground is what has come to be known as Political Correctness: It is alright to speak up emphatically and without pretence about your convictions but to do this in a manner that betrays a lack of sensitivity to social harmony and others' feelings betrays an appalling lack of maturity, don't you think?

Hours before Obama flew to Ghana last week, CNN peppered him with questions about the failure of the White House to issue a public tribute to Pop King Michael Jackson ahead of the memorable memorial service we all watched on TV.

Obama explained that he had sent a personal tribute to the Jackson family. He then spoke about how Jackson's "extraordinary talent and music” had somehow unfortunately also been “mixed with a big dose of tragedy and difficulty in his private life."

This was no doubt a mature man's guarded comment on allegations that the late pop stars had been a paedophile.

US Congressman Peter King was interviewed on the same subject by CNN. King blurted out that "This guy was a pervert, he was a child molester. We're too politically correct. No one wants to stand up and speak the truth.”

In standing up for the truth, how far should we go with Political Correctness, Jomo, old chap? Should it be to the point of closing our eyes to facts which may offend Political Correctness?

The Peter King kind apparently abound in the United States. Some of them were not exactly in the mood for Political Correctness as far as Obama's visit to Ghana last Saturday was concerned. One of them was the very controversial German-Dutch radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh.

Mr Limbaugh accused Obama of going to Ghana and telling Africans “what they gotta do.

He rubbished every single statement in what we Ghanaians said was the greatest speech ever made and tried to demonstrate that many of the statements in Obama's speech contradicted the new US President's emerging national policies back at home.

As far as Mr Limbaugh was concerned, the speech had been (misleadingly) contrived “to make Obama look like he's for democracy, freedom, the rule of law, low taxes and economic growth.”

My own opinion in the language of “PC”? We did get hundreds of millions of dollars worth of international advertising all for free, didn't we? Obama did get a massive prop of his international image as Mr Limbaugh argued, no?

For his troubles, Limbaugh got called “bad news”, “a lose canon” “SOB”, “a crazy, racist' “an idiotic coward who pollutes the airwaves of the United States ” and much worse, but hey, the bloke too had his say, didn't he?

Mr Limbaugh would probably not have accused Obama of telling us what to do, had he known just how much Ghanaians lapped up all the man said as if every word of it held the secret code to our future.

So obsessed were many with Obama's “we can (do it)” statement in particular, that you wondered if the statement constituted a password to paradise.

“We can (do it)” actually Obama's election campaign slogan and not especially conceived by him for our benefit in particular, yah.

Folks picked up some of the statements Obama made in his speech according to fancy and proceeded to discuss what the man meant or did not mean.

He warned that coup d'etats were unacceptable, so he must have been referring in particular to one bearded man with a booming voice who lives up at Ridge Junction.

Yet all week, folks continued to parrot this statement. Did we really need someone to come all the way from Washington DC to Ghana to tell us that?

You wonder whether it is the case that we did know this at all or never believed it even if we did, until Obama said it.

If we do not believe it, we really might have good cause, because the “we can do it” slogan cannot apply to a nation where roads are used as car parks and passenger buses go zooming along the shoulders of the roads. Never mind the inconvenience to law-abiding motorists who drive on the asphalted road.

This is wrong and symbolises the backward march of a nation torn between progress and chaotic stagnation.

Transport management is indeed bizarre here: It takes a much shorter time to make the return trip to London from Accra by Tortoise Airways than to drive from Kwame Nkrumah Circle to Abeka Lapaz.

In the mean time, thousands of vehicles burn colossal amounts of fuel as they stay trapped in traffic jams for kilometres all around, overheated engines huffing and puffing and exhausts belching acrid clouds of carbon all over the place.

The sight of street lights along many roads in fierce competition with Jehovah's sun for brightness is a very familiar one. Make it in deed we shall if we keep on at this rate.

How any society can indulge such an orgy of critical resource waste and still hope to “make it” is the question.

Obama and his visit became history the moment his plane took off into the night sky from KIA last Saturday, but many of our good compatriots have had some difficulty weaning themselves off the 24/7 Obama diet they had been fed on by the media for days.

Obama headlines have persisted on front pages, editorial columns and radio and television forums throughout this week and long after the man sat down again to morning coffee far away in DC.

…Pessimism can be very crippling, yes sir, but how can we “make it” when to cap all our terrible reputation for planning, management and law enforcement, we seem determined to maintain our unenviable positions as one of the countries with the highest road fatality rates and corruption perception indexes in the world?

Tell me something old chap!

Credit: George Sydney Abugre

George Sydney Abugri
George Sydney Abugri, © 2009

The author has 24 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: GeorgeSydneyAbugri

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