by Morak Babajide-Alabi
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Mathew 7:5.
There is no perfect advice for this season than this scriptural verse. There are so many hypocrites parading the streets in one guise or the other, trying to convince others they know more than they do. In the process, rather than educate, they confuse and cause a further commotion.
This verse is apt for these times when our leaders see all the wrongs in the opposing camps and refuse to acknowledge the fact that they are worse. These are the seasons when leaders think of nothing else but how to “shame” their opponents. They barely have the capacity of thinking beyond petty politics, where they find faults in each other. It is not uncommon nowadays for political parties to highlight the weaknesses of the others while they practice the same.
This upbraiding is not reserved for the political class. It does run across the spectrum of life. There are many hypocritical individuals nowadays who poke their noses in pieces of stuff that do not concern them or things that they also are guilty of. In a more concerned world with public image than the morality of actions, these individuals try to play “holier than thou” in every situation.
Is it not ironic when individuals throw stones forgetting they live in glass houses? Of recent, it has become habitual of Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America to pick on countries and individuals randomly. He has continually used his Twitter feed to state unpleasant things about figures that disagree with his views. He has shown his leadership style is not to be afraid to engage in mud fights, which was, until now strange to the office he occupies.
To the President, Twitter is the ground for him to vent his anger and also push out his opinions on individuals, issues and countries. He is effectively employing the medium to say what ordinarily would not have been voiced by the leader of a free world. Political observers think Trump is using his tweets to set an agenda for his teeming supporters.
An individual that has gotten a “twitterful” from Trump in recent times is the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. In what could be labelled as unprovoked social media attacks, he randomly picks on Khan, even though they are thousands of miles apart. Trump had taken it upon himself to comment on the violence in the UK capital city rather than concentrate his efforts on combating the various problems in his country. We know we are living in a global world, and what happens in a corner of the world is likely to have an impact on other parts of the world.
More so when various agencies share information on terrorism, security, governance, etc., expressing concern over violent acts in other countries is to be taken as a sign of concern. Therefore, Trump’s anxiety for the safety of Londoners is understandable, as the level of violence has risen in the city in recent months.
The City of London has witnessed a surge in stabbings, shootings and killings in the past year, after falling for so many years. The spate of violence, however, is not restricted to the London area only – It is a UK-wide problem. There has been an increase in stabbings and shootings in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and West Yorkshire and major cities.
According to a Home Office report on knife crime offences, there were 43,516 in the 12 months ending March 2019. This is a massive eighty per cent jump from the low-point of 23,945 offences recorded for the year ending March 2014. London City, being the most populated has a share of thirty-two per cent of the offences reported for the 2018/2019 period.
There is an urgent need to combat this menace before it consumes society. However, it is out of place for the US President to lay the blame on the doorstep of Mayor Khan. To say this is demeaning of the office of the President is an understatement. There are many reasons, among which are police cuts and austerity measures that have curtailed proper security watch on the city. Therefore calling the Mayor as inept is out of place, when viewed in proper perspectives.
To bring in context the violence in London City and some US cities is to expose the hypocritical nature of President Trump. The rate of violence in US cities is on a mega scale that should be of concern to everyone. However, Trump is more concerned with happenings in London than he is with the mass killings in his backyard.
Are there sincere advisers around Trump? Advisers who can reprimand him to remove the log in his eyes before he attempts to clear the speck in the eyes of Mayor Khan. The recent killings and wounding of over fifty people in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, is disturbing for peace-loving people. While Trump was busy engaging Khan in Tweeter-war, he failed to perceive the culprits of the mass killings “cocking” their guns.
The sad reality of these US killings is that Trump has never poured out many invectives on the offenders as he has done on Mayor Khan. In a speech on the El-Paso and Dayton killings, the President seems to condemn the platform he has continually used to promote his agenda. He said: “We must recognize that the Internet has provided a dangerous avenue to radicalize disturbed minds and perform demented acts. We must shine light on the dark recesses of the Internet, and stop mass murders before they start. The Internet, likewise, is used for human trafficking, illegal drug distribution, and so many other heinous crimes. The perils of the Internet and social media cannot be ignored, and they will not be ignored.”
This is a total contradiction to how he uses the internet to preach his ideas on many issues. He had successfully used social media platforms to his advantage. Comments such as “LONDON needs a new mayor ASAP. Khan is a disaster – will only get worse!” are examples that could radicalise individuals towards evil acts like mass killings.
Let us, however, not be distracted from condemning these killings. These have been going on for far too long with no end in sight. Although the President condemned the growing trend of white nationalism, it is evident that something urgent has to be done to stop the rate at which it is evolving. The President is right to a certain extent that the killings are stoked by mental illness.
There is no doubt that this is the true situation. The problem, however, is that these individuals with mental issues are fed daily by leaders who call upon these vulnerable individuals to rise and fight their “corners.” If leaders are fuelling the fire, where will the solution come from? What America needs now is an individual or group of them that will go beyond petty politics and take concrete steps towards stopping this despair. An individual has to rise above the nonsense of gun rights and not only condemn but walk the walk aimed at ending the senseless attacks.
There must be an individual or group of them in authority that can reason and say enough is enough. They must be bold enough to demand a stop to the killings of innocent people. When will we get to the heart of an individual (just one) who would see beyond winning elections and see the cries and feel the grief of families? Will these latest shootings, killing and wounding of innocent people go beyond the rhetoric we get from people in authority? Or would this be another in the line of populist speeches?
As published in the Sunday Vanguard of August 11, 2019.