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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Against 'A Re(turn) to Self-Censorship'

Against Silence: Response to 'A Re(turn) to Self-Censorship'

Charles Makakala Jr.
(@makakalajr)

Did I seriously hear closing shop? I am not sure which words to use, or which philosopher to quote to persuade you not to do that. Watching our mouths, we will, but silence - that is the last thing that should happen now.
While reading your article what went through my mind were the words of Martin Luther King Jr. in his 'Letter From Birmingham Jail'. Kindly review the letter to remind yourself of its contents, much of it is relevant to our situation today. 

''Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court's decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws. One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all...I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist. That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.'' 

I know of a couple of examples, which are not yet in the public sphere, that show how low we have already sunk as a nation. Our biggest problem today, I submit, is not the fact that some people are being taken to jail for expressing views contrary to the government's wishes: our biggest problem is that THERE ARE VERY FEW OF THOSE!
Looking at history, there are just so many people the oppressors can imprison, or even worse, but the society will at one point awaken to the injustice that is being committed. And that cannot happen if rational people remain silent. 

Again, with the view of history in mind, the oppressors' power and clout of invincibility is always a house of cards. I usually look back in awe at the fall of people like Mobutu, Gaddafi, Saddam, Mubarak, et al. - they were just men of flesh and blood. It all comes down at some point. 
Let me finish by quoting from 'First They Came' poem. According to Wikipedia: "First they came ..." is a statement and poem written by Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis' rise to power and subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group. 

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
The fact is - there is no better time to speak...

I cannot say that I am a 'fan' of Udadisi Blog - but whenever you post something here I go and read the post. It is one of those intelligent and thoughtful blogs, and there are very few of those around. I can't say that I will greatly miss the blog, I tend to be too distracted by ideas and conceptual issues that happen all over the globe. But it will be very unfortunate if Udadisi closes shop under the current pretexts. That will not only set a terrible precedent but will also end one of the voices that I believe is positive, constructive and well - I can't resist taking a cheap jibe - generally progressive!
Keep the oil burning. Let the light shine. Darkness shall not prevail.

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