Aiga Forums ‘teachable moment’ on hate. By Yilma Bekele
Last Monday Aiga Forum, the website reflecting the views and opinions of Tigray Peoples Liberation Front, the party in power in Ethiopia that is led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi posted a racial slur directed at the president of the USA. It said:
“The misguided extremist Diasporas have been cheering up for the last couple of days. You know why? Hillary Clinton will not visit Ethiopia during her trip to Africa. Hmm! Who cares if the N**** administration ignores Ethiopia?!” Aigaforum.com
This posting was viewed by thousands of people as far away as in Germany and as close as San Francisco, CA. You can read Ato Abebe Gellaw’s investigative reporting on the subject at http://addisvoice.com/aiga_forum_challenged_on_racist.htm.
The fact that Aiga Forum posted the racial slur is undeniable. Aiga Forum used an ugly racial epithet to describe the administration of President Obama is a fact that will not disappear by the simple rearrangement of a web site posting. Once on the Internet it stays on the Internet. What is published on the web will stay there no matter what, unless of course a nuclear explosion obliterates the thousands of servers diligently saving all that is put in cyber space.
The way a person or an organization reacts to incidents is a reflection of their mindset, philosophy, or their general outlook in life. The way that Aiga Forum, as the mouthpiece of the TPLF regime, decided to respond to this shameful incident is a window into their standard operating procedure.
If I might digress a little bit, let’s compare two situations that happened within the last month. On July 16 a black Harvard professor was arrested by a white police officer in Cambridge, MA. The incident received wide coverage. During a press conference, Mr. Obama responded to a question and said the Cambridge police ‘acted stupidly’. He spoke too soon. Plenty of folks, both black and white, were hasty in their conclusion.
Our dear professor President, Barrack Obama, realized he was wrong. Upon further reflection, he later admitted that, “I could have calibrated those words differently.” He did not leave it at that. He decided to use the incident as a ‘teachable moment’ for all Americans. He opened the door for citizens and law enforcement people to discuss racial sensitivity, racial profiling, and the issue of race in today’s America. A positive outcome was created out of a bad situation.
Now, let us look at how Aiga Forum and the TPLF regime handled the ugly incident that they created. They wanted to shift responsibility away from their despicable act. They denied that what many people saw, did not exist. They attempted to make the story about me because I wrote an article pointing out their shameful insult against President Obama, and our African American brethren. That is not fair. The story is about Aiga/TPLF’s defamation of the first African American President.
The following is their response to their dirty deed:
Take for example a certain Yilma Bekele article that appeared on abbay media and ethio forum websites about Aigaforum. For the record Aigaforum did not write or post the comments attributed to us in the article! Yilma must be idle or hurt by the ongoing saga with UDJ! Else what was he smoking when he wrote such white lie about Aigaforum? Shame to those websites who posted the article without checking! The two websites could not even agree how to present the article to their readers. One is trying to cheat readers to make it more believable!
Yilma, ethio forum and abbay media you are wrong! When we want to say something we do not hide or speak /write in â€œqeneâ€ we are straight. Next time quote us properly! And we ask you to apologize to your readers for misinforming them.
You see what I mean. The highlighted color is theirs, and the emphasis is theirs. What brought about idleness, smoking, and UDJ into the picture is not clear. After publishing this, they have the chutzpah to ask for an apology. Two Amharic sayings come to mind. The first one is ‘ye leba aynederek melso lib yaderq’ and the second one is ‘ke detu wede matu’. The explanation and the usual insult was posted on Wednesday, August 5th. The next day they came up with a whole new clarification. They claimed that their ‘nemesis’ used ‘disposablewebpage.com’ to defame their image. Of course, this new spin on the story is not true either. We have IT professionals that can prove the so-called disposablewebpage.com that they claim created the insulting posting, was made after the fact. This is just another feeble attempt to white wash the original blunder.
Aiga Forum/TPLF editors could have used this incident to reflect on their destructive behavior. They could have dug deep into their psyche and try to understand what we have been pointing out about their ethnic based mentality, and its negative effects on our country. They could have used this ugly uttering as a ‘teachable moment’ about the pearls of narrow ethnicity, racially motivated hatred, and using insults to demean a fellow human being.
That is not the style of the minority-based government in Ethiopia, the bankroller of Aiga forum. Aiga Forum has made it a habit to insult and demean fellow Ethiopians. Its web page sole reason for existence is to inflame inter ethnic animosity between our people. It is a cheerleader for the inhuman acts of its sponsors that are directed at the citizens of Ethiopia and neighboring countries. It is a factory of lies, innuendos, and half-truths used to split opposition parties and to pit one group against another to later enjoy the fireworks sitting on a high chair.
It has insulted our tireless and successful community organizer Ato Obang Metho as a ‘phony’ leader, it has led the charge against Kinijit, and the massacre of peaceful demonstrators in the aftermath of the 2005 election. It is currently salivating at the prospect of a civilized argument inside Andenet turning into a full-blown war. Aiga Forum is adding fuel to the family discussion trying to turn it into a conflagration.
If Aiga Forum can prove that they are not responsible for that which was posted on their website, I will be the first one to apologize. I will go to great length to ask for forgiveness from Aiga Forum for defaming them. I am sure our independent web sites will not hesitate to print a retraction.
On the other hand, there is definitely no chance that this will happen. It is because we stand by our story that upon opening Aiga Forum site people saw the ugly post right on their front page. Unless Aiga Forum can prove that someone hacked into their site, and planted the ugly degenerate statement, the statement I made continues to be a verifiable fact.
What to do about it a good question. Thanks to the freedom we enjoy in the USA Aiga Forum is protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. Many people died to uphold that right we take for granted. The right to use the N word Aiga Forum is throwing at the President did not come cheap. Many of our African American brothers and sisters paid a heavy price, in order for us to live and enjoy life to the fullest. We Ethiopians should know better. When our country was attacked by Fascist Italy, our African American friends were the first ones to volunteer to help us stand up against a European aggressor. The great African American poet journalist Langston Hughes wrote the ‘Ballad of Ethiopia’ that included the words:
All you colored peoples
Be a man at last
Say to Mussolini
No! You shall not pass
We definitely owe quite a lot to many people, specially our natural allies, the Africans in the Diaspora. Aiga Forum wrote ‘we put a quick disclaimer and moved on’. It is not that easy my friends. A disclaimer cannot erase a deliberate insult and a shameful act. President Obama has been insulted in a vicious manner. I have been defamed by being called a liar, and the Ethiopian people have been included in this shameful act. The only way out is for the alleged Administrator of Aiga Forum, a certain Isayas Abay, to acknowledge this transgression, and to ask for forgiveness from all the injured parties, including the people of Ethiopia. I believe that Aiga Forum should have its own ‘teachable moment’ and refrain from becoming such a divider and a negative force in our country’s strive to attain democracy, respect for human rights, and the ushering of the rule of law into our ancient kingdom. There is no other way out.
If on the other hand, the Aiga Forum/TPLF owners persist on this fiction of blaming others for their hate crimes, they leave us no choice but pursue all legal means to stop them from hurting us again. We are in the process of finalizing a petition drive to ask Ethiopians, and all peace loving people to condemn the actions of Aiga Forum/TPLF and to make our feelings known in no uncertain terms. We are not afraid any more. We refuse to be bullied. We refuse to be victimized by the narrow ethnic based regime. We refuse to be insulted, degraded, and dehumanized when our country is crying out for justice and progress. We demand the removal of the unjust system that is keeping our country backward, illiterate, and center of starvation in the twenty first century. Enough is enough. We say to Aiga Forum/ TPLF camp, you can run but you cannot hide from the truth.
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