Rebutting a Despot’s Fanatic: The Case of Cyril Allen Sr.

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Another agent of the war criminal Charles G. Taylor has allegedly spewed the sharp-cutting rhetoric that must never again be a part of our national dialogue. Reportedly, Cyril Allen Sr. told the media that he sees “nothing wrong with resuscitating the Taylor regime.” The sentimental longing for the return of despotic rule in any form is simply reckless to say the least. If the statements attributed to Mr. Allen are true, it is critical that all sensible Liberians call his bluff. CDC and its coalition too must also speak against this decadent desire. If CDC is an extension of the Charles Taylor regime, its coalition led by Senators George Oppong Weah and Jewel Howard-Taylor is dead on arrival.

The time when some or many Liberians were enthralled with predators like Charles Taylor is now in the dustbin of history. Anyone who intends to recreate this degenerate period must recognize that Liberians know the value of democracy and the vices of dictatorship. While Liberia today has an infant democracy and fragile peace, there is no comparison with its tyrannical past. Fresh in the memories of Liberians are the cruelty and carnage that typified the Charles Taylor era. The mass suffering of Liberians that characterized the Taylor government cannot and will not be brought back. It must remain fantasy in the heads of the likes of Mr. Allen and others who wish for such a gruesome past to be revisited upon us.

If Senators Weah and Howard-Taylor are not able to denounce this statement, they are certainly embracing it by their silence. And if they are truly agents of the Charles Taylor regime as some have alleged, then the blood of those who that government spilled are on their hands. The repressive nature of that establishment cannot be treated indifferently. Charles Taylor’s government was a terroristic regime. The dream of a new Liberia, which Charles Taylor and his associates promised became a frightening nightmare that Liberians are recovering from gradually. It must never come back. We should not be lured into believing that anything good can come from such a period or anything suggestive. We know how Charles Taylor and his henchmen gained their grip on power through coercion, violence, and mass slaughter.

Who wants the military to become a political actor in our democracy? Who wants the proliferation of drug-addicted child soldiers plying the streets with arms and ammunitions? Who wants ethnic identity rather than national identity being the defining characteristic again? Who wants tensions along religious line being brought to the fore again? The depressing legacies of this dictatorial past remains present with us today and are felt by the many young people who were recruited by warlords to fight alongside them. I know for real what it takes to be drug addicted after being a child combatant. I have in recent times been speaking to some of these young people. They too do not want to re-live that moment when they were first exposed to these appalling activities.

The period that military excesses were enacted against civilians with impunity cannot be brought back. Interethnic strains, interfaith tensions, class rigidities, and their associated political manifestations were all the hallmarks of the Taylor government. This was a bankrupt society along all lines. Mr. Allen’s standard of judgment is therefore skewed because he was a direct beneficiary of that spoiled system. There is something dramatically wrong with the second coming of a Taylor government. Liberians want to forge ahead, rebuilding the social fabric that Taylor and the likes of Mr. Allen destroyed.

Lots of young people today were fortunate that they did not live under the Charles Taylor regime. But these rants by Mr. Allen and other Charles Taylor’s lackeys must be taken seriously. For these young people’s sake and the future of Liberia, Allen and others must be rebutted fervidly. Vivid accounts of some of the depraved and ridiculous atrocities that Taylor and his followers committed in Liberia must be rehashed to counter any illusions that this evil of a man and his supporters mean well for Liberia. Charles G. Taylor, a man who was convicted of “killing, raping, and cutting the limbs of civilians” cannot be thought of fondly by any group of people. Such “despotic nostalgia” can only be considered a psychological disorder given that it is intended to unleash an unwarranted traumatic flashback on his victims.

Counselor Tiawan Gongole and many other human rights advocates of that period are alive today who were arrested, detained, imprisoned, tortured, and some even killed by Taylor’s loyalists. The Dokie family still lives with the grisly, agonizing and senseless assassination of their relatives while on their way home to attend a celebratory event. The myriad of girls and women who were raped by Taylor and his armed gangs do not relish his government’s reincarnation. Charles Taylor conscripted untold numbers of minors into his warring faction and employed coercive powers without restraint. He set nation’s socioeconomic development back for decades.

Indeed, we should be outraged when talk of reviving his regime is expressed. We should not shrink back under the pretext of not wanting to give credence to the likes of Cyril Allen, Sr. His views should not be normalized in our national debate but rebutted forcefully. It is therefore my ardent hope that many people in the Coalition, especially its leaders, do not hold what should be a minority view in the body politic. Cyril Allen Sr. is a direct beneficiary of the mayhem and gaping wounds that Charles G. Taylor caused for which this war criminal is spending the rest of his life in prison.

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