Friday, 18 November 2016

On Lynching and Rationalization

I have a friend who argues that the average person, in a subconscious way, likes to see the blood of someone like himself: this means that, for example, the average poor Nigerian likes to see another poor Nigerian bleeding. Her explanations for this argument are usually very expansive. They involve ideas that the mind of an average person is not kind: a person is not kind by default, he is not good by default, he learns these things, but at the same time, he is not bad by default or wicked by default either, he learns this, too. And since the world tends to lean towards wickedness than towards kindness, he is more readily taught to be wicked than he is taught to be kind.
It is an interesting theory especially if you consider how very carefully she lays and concretizes it. I was of the opinion that as children, we are born innocent and innocent often means good. But I have had cause to rethink the whole thing and now I do not know what to think.
There was another lynching that was recorded and shared on social media during the week. God only knows how many lynching occur on a consistent basis and do not make it online. Firstly the story was that that the young man who was murdered was 7 years old and all he stole was garri (cassava flakes). After that there was another story that he was not 7 years old and it was not just garri he stole it was a laptop, he also stabbed the person he was stealing from. And he was a chronic conman because this was not his fist time.
I do not know which of these two stories is correct, I do not care which of the two stories is correct.  I could not watch the video, same way I could not watch the Aluu4 video. There are so many things unsettling about watching those kinds of videos. There are also so many things unsettling and incorrect and devilish about choosing to bring out your phone to record people who are in the process of killing other people. And so, yes, if you are reading this, and the first thing that occurs to you when you see a lynching happening is to take out your phone and record, you are no better than the murderers and I don’t know how you sleep at night.
I saw the news trending on Twitter for the first time on Wednesday, I think. I resolved in my mind that I would ignore it. There were already people talking about it and it was not as if I could talk about it better than they were and also, I thought I had reacted to enough sadness and negativity in the month of November already and I was not about to react to anymore. However, on Thursday, I read some tweets about the incident that were very disturbing. The camp that believed that the person who was lynched was a bad guy and laptop stealer and a person stabber etc were attempting to defend the lynching and they tweeted things like ‘reasons why you shouldn’t feel bad for the way they lynched that guy…..’
I would love to understand how the mind of someone who attempts, even in the mildest of ways, to justify a lynching works. The word Lynching is said to originate from a slave owner who lived in the West Indies sometime in the early 1700s, Willie Lynch. He devised an impeccable method of controlling the minds of his slaves. And so when the slave masters in Virginia were having problems with their slaves, they called for him to teach them how he was able to get the best of his own slaves. (Here is a Link to a speech said to have been delivered by Willie Lynch to the slave owners of Virginia.)
The following paragraph is a gory read.
Single out the most stubborn, most chaotic, most annoying slave in your farm. Take off all his clothes and make sure that he is completely naked; also, make sure that this is happening in the presence of all the other slaves. Tie each of the stubborn slave’s legs to two horses facing opposite directions. Set the stubborn slave on fire. and as you do that, beat both horses until they begin to move, to the point that they tear the stubborn slave in two parts. Beat all the other slaves brainless. Put fear in their minds. You control them. (You may want to read John Grisham’s Sycamore Row if you want more of this twisted, twisted, twisted analysis of slavery)
That was painful to write.
So that’s where the word lynching comes from. The idea is to control, to torment, to torture. So when you see somebody getting lynched and you decide to rationalize it as probably a good idea, maybe it will be wiser of you not to share your stupid thoughts with the rest of the world because once you share that thought, you are propagating the devilishness of Willie Lynch.
Also as you attempt to rationalize the devilishness by whether the guy who they killed was a garri thief or a laptop thief, an innocent young man who just happened to be hungry or a human being stabber, a 7 year old child or a 30 year old adult man with a childish physique; Let me assure you that all of it is your mind trying to think of excuses to make something that is wrong on every level conceivable not so wrong. It is like the staring very attentively at a white wall to see if it could be turned into black. I have nothing to say to you. Just pray that you don’t fall a victim of your own rationalizations one day.

No comments: