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Political intolerance is a recipe for chaos

By Salad Malicha

One of the authors whom I cannot remember said, “The tongue is a sword or a magic wand, it can cut and kill or love and heal”. This quote is in relation to unsavoury and inflammatory remarks by Emurua Dikir legislator Hon Johana Ng’eno and his Kapseret counterpart Hon Oscar Sudi. The two threw gauntlet into the wind and ran bonkers by spitting unprintable expletives against the President’s and by extension his immediate family. For national leaders riding on a pedestal of being state officers, it is one thing to be objective leaders who exercise pedestrian oversight role and another to be a pundit in their own course, and worse, believe in their own version of imagined facts for partisan political interests or persuasions. The leader’s offensive language may not be excusable on account of an emotional dilemma or being highly inebriated by some stuff, but believing their own embarrassing statements is something else.

I do not hold brief for Deputy President William Ruto, but it will be dishonest to say that two were spewing those insults at the behest of the Deputy President in as much as they support him politically. I can discern a camouflaged political tact by a gun-for-hire to destroy the name of the Deputy President based on their fertile and deceptive imaginations. The Sudi’s and Ng’eno’s of this world have perfected this repeated political orchestra for political subservience.

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McCarthyism

In 1954, in the midst of the infamous McCarthy-led Red Scare in the United States, Samuel Stouffer initiated the modern study of political intolerance with a major survey of both the American mass public and local community leaders. Stouffer, like many others, observed the widespread political repression being undertaken in the name of protecting America and its values from the godless communists and wondered whether such repression was supported by ordinary people. Local community leaders, on the other hand, expressed considerably less appetite for intolerance. Out of Stouffer’s research emerged highly influential “elitist” theories of democracy as well as an intellectual concern that has persisted for fifty years about the causes and consequences of the intolerance of ordinary citizens.

It is quite shocking that the two legislators in their zeal to score perceived political points decided to go for the former First Lady’s jugular hurling unprintable epithets at her persona and character while fully aware of her inability to talk back or give a measured response to the allegations levelled against her.

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By mentioning the name of Her Excellency Mama Ngina Kenyatta in such derogatory remarks, they crossed the line. It shows them in a bad light as leaders. Politicians should direct their grievances, if any, to their fellow politicians- In this case, their target is the president.

Intolerance is the unwillingness to put up with disagreeable ideas and groups—has thus become a staple of research on the democratic orientations of citizens throughout the world. The topic is today no less important than it was in the days of Joseph McCarthy (the Republican Senator from Wisconsin who led the Red Scare of the 1950s) since intolerance in one form or another fuel the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Rwanda, and many other areas of the world. And even where intolerance does not directly produce political violence, the failure of democratising regimes to embrace political freedom for all, even those in the opposition, has become one of the most important impediments to the consolidation of democratic reform throughout the world (as in the so-called illiberal democracies.

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The MP’s public spats and whipping of public emotions are defined by hedging on the political windmill of the time. I will stick my neck out, and expose contaminated insurgency for what it is. Freedom of speech comes with measured responsibility and civility devoid of personal venom.

Constructive criticisms aired out by politicians is the very hallmark of open democracy but it is very disappointing when this very virtue is reduced to settling political scores through uncouth verbal personal attacks. Preferably, this should not be done at the expense of public service. There are better avenues for anyone to air out concerns or grievances with the President or even members of his Cabinet. Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.

About Whispers from the North

Whispers from the North is an online platform that appreciates the ecological, cultural and socio-economic diversities of Northern Kenya. We also acknowledge that the lives of the communities of northern Kenya has been shaped by a number of intrinsic and extrinsic factors which have led to complex challenge that calls for a multifaceted approach.

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