Thursday, April 12, 2007

Intellectual Laziness of tradition

Another quick note as I watch the Don Imus Lynching here in USA. The posse is out and their prey is quite deserving of the punishment that is coming his way. However the embarassing thing is that the same script of protest and boycott are being played out through the usual suspects whose civil rights successes make them prisoners of this one trick pony show. There is one thing that is true Imus must face the consequences of his choices part of that might well being losing his show on both MSNBC and CBS. Is Imus a racist and sexist? Mute point he disrespected people who in no way deserved it and stereotyped them in ways that open them to indignities. He is from a racialised society and could not imagine him being immune from that orientation. There is often this mistake that 'Good people' cannot be racist. Take our own Prime Minister Tony Blair an all round good egg who continues to base policy on stereotypes from different communities that are not indegenuously English. He uses the excuse of challenging Political correctness to tar Muslims with terrorist disposition and now we are back to black boys and a culture of gangster mentality. Never mind that when he was on his war against yobs their ethnicity was never mentioned. This is not as a result of being good or bad but intellectual laziness. People label because of traditions of viewing things or solving things a particular way. This leads to constant rendering of positions that are outdated, inappropraite and even downright unjust. When so called African American leaders question Senator Obamas identity as a 'true black' , when British government meets with certain nominees as community leaders, when the New York Times labels the Nigerian elections in a derogatory way and positions the president as another 'African Big man' do these truly address the complexity of the situation? The desire for simplicity and demand for the tried as well as tested are all poor excuse for unsustainable or ineffective positions and choices.

In this vein the real issue is what does it say when the only time African Americans are given so much coverage is when they shout victimhood? Why should anyone persons respect for us be more important that the respect we give ourselves? Is the civil rights approach of protest and boycott not now so predictable that it has no transformative value? If so called leaders are trapped in this cycle of response are there no other alternative approaches? What is the systemic change that can be achieved as a result of sacking Imus? What is the likely effect of this sacking on his main audience of white males especially if they view him as victimized?

In Nigeria people like Wole Soyinka, Gani Fawehimi et al play the same role over and over again with little transformative effect. They are addicted to one response and servants of a particular tradition and indifferent to the many possible solutions that life can provide. It is time to seek fit for purpose solutions rather that perpetuate setiment and be paralysed by addiction to a prefered approach.


Simon McIntyre said...

Excellent insight as always

Anonymous said...

Oga mi

Good analysis, but the blog could do with you setting out the alternative solutions you proffer.