By Arthur Ballah
A common tactic of those who are in the business of finding fault is to blame the messenger when confronted with good message. Sometimes they also try to give new meanings to words in an attempt to confuse the reader or the listener. Such is the disposition of people we call “haters.” They cannot see reason; so the only thing to do in response is just to laugh at their distorted view of reality and go on.
This is the case of the FrontPage Newspaper writer who, stung by the brilliant decision of Dr. Mills Jones, standard bearer and political leader of the Movement for Economic Empowerment (MOVEE) to choose Dr. Samuel Reeves as his running mate, came to this conclusion: “His (Dr. Jones’) reported choice of Dr. Reeves is likely to raise eyebrows and possible cries of an elitist ticket.” Really, Mr. Rodney Sieh? “Possible cries”? My only advice is, get real! I guess there should have been wailing and gnashing of teeth all over Liberia in response to elitism when George Weah, a Senator, named Jewel Taylor, another Senator and former first lady of Liberia, to be his running mate. But we didn’t hear as much as a wimple from Mr. Sieh. There should have also been people going down in sackcloth and ashes when Charles Brumskine, one of the major lawyers in the country and former President Pro Tempore of the Liberian Senate, chose Harrison Karnwea, former FDA Managing Director and former Minister of Internal Affairs, as his running mate. But where was Rodney Sieh to come up with his brilliant conclusion about elitism? Perhaps, we should give him the benefit of the doubt that this event escaped him. But what about the choice of Alexander Cummings, the former Coca-Cola Executive, naming Jeremiah Sulunteh, former Ambassador of Liberia to the United States, former Minister of Labor and former Minister of Transportation, to be his running mate? No elitism here, according to the dictionary of Rodney Sieh. Only when Jones, an economist, chooses Reeves, a pastor, does Rodney Sieh see the raising of eyebrows and the possible urge to cry elitism. What is more interesting is that neither the comments before Sieh’s conclusion about an elitist ticket nor the comments after show how Sieh came to his conclusion. Where does that leave the reader?
The eyes of the Liberian people are open now. They can draw their own conclusions regarding the field of presidential candidates. And it is clear to all fair-minded observers that the work of Dr. Jones and that of Dr. Reeves, rather than pointing to elitism, points in the direction of people who care for ordinary Liberians. We must ask Rodney Sieh, are the people across Liberia in towns and villages, even in the cities, who call Jones the ‘Poverty Doctor’ part of Rodney Sieh’ elites? Are the young people who are referred to as Zogos who are fed by Reeves part of Rodney Sieh’s elites? Is opening a school with health facilities in rural Liberia, with a company established to help earn funds to run the facilities, as was done by Dr. Reeves, the badge of a man wedded to elitism? Is trying to open a home for children made orphans by the Ebola Virus Disease a mark of elitism, something Dr. Reeves is trying to do? Is starting a micro-finance project that is one of the largest in the country, now operating in seven counties, something done by Reeves, elitism? Do we just call educated people “elitist,” even when they are using their education to serve humanity? Haters might answer “yes” to these questions, but we do not think so!
The question is, who actually is the elite? Perhaps, it is the writer of the article in FrontPage newspaper, because he is taking onto himself the right to define the thinking of “ordinary” Liberians. He believes that he can tell Liberians what is good for them. He considers himself to be the intellectual that should shape public opinion. Talk about elitism, that is it; setting oneself apart from “ordinary people.” The writer of the article is the “elite.” People cannot be fooled all the time. They are beginning to know their interest, and will not be misled. If there is any crying to be made over the Jones-Reeves ticket, it will be cries of hope. When ordinary people who have worked hard to “make something of themselves,” as we sometimes say in common speech, come together to do extraordinary things for the common good, that is not elitism. The people call it PUBLIC SERVICE.