The Misadventures of a Public Citizen


By Theodore T. Hodge

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

October 28, 2004


Citizen Patrick Tuon has written extensively about issues affecting Liberia and the Liberian communities here in the United States. He must be given some credit for raising certain issues and thereby generating discussions on a number of topics. Unfortunately, most of Mr. Tuon’s writings and the way he expresses his opinions remain devoid of any sense of gentility commonly associated with acceptable decorum in public discourse. Many examples come to mind as I pen this piece. For example, he unilaterally warned the military forces of MODEL, a group he associated with the Krahn ethnic group, to desist from harassing the unarmed citizens of Maryland County. His bold and questionably distasteful warning can be interpreted thus: If you do not stop your military aggression against the peaceful citizens of Maryland County, be warned that we will take up arms to defend ourselves. We will take revenge against you no matter where you are.

Such talks must be discouraged because they have the propensity to backfire and harm the people Mr. Tuon may have wanted to protect in the first place. Mr. Tuon, while sitting in an extremely comfortable zone in suburban Virginia, USA issued such a strong warning to a real military force operating in a real place, against real people. What are the consequences of such warnings? Wouldn’t it have been advisable for Mr. Tuon to first organize his fellow Marylanders and made some plans to gather necessary resources for such a venture? Since Mr. Tuon made such unilateral pronouncements, has he done anything to diminish the real or imagined threat MODEL poses over our people? No. Do we know the possible consequences of such empty threats? No. Is it possible Mr. Tuon’s hot air did more harm than good for the defenseless citizens of Maryland? Let logic be your guide as you contemplate the answers to the questions herein posed.

Another example of Mr. Tuon’s adventure into controversy without regard to diplomacy surrounds the issue of the leadership crises in the Marylanders’ national association. On a number of occasions, Mr. Tuon has unadvisedly taken upon himself to warn and threaten other Liberians who have freely decided to associate with his archenemy, Dr. Mariah Seton. Yes, it must be acknowledged that a feud does exist in the national organization. Dr. Seton was cited for constitutional violations; she was summoned by the National Representative Council (NRC) to answer to specific charges levied against her; she refused to appear before the body; she was suspended in absentia and eventually impeached and replaced. In the meantime, Dr. Seton has not conceded defeat. Instead, she masterminded a split within the national organization and heads a new splintered group to the dismay of many, including this writer.

Many of us Marylanders have been especially shamed by some of the correspondences that have been exchanged among us. While some of us can genuinely say we are objective in trying to analyze what has happened, Mr. Patrick Tuon can hardly be said to be objective at all, here’s why: Mr. Patrick Tuon lost to Dr. Mariah Seton in the national election that elevated her to the helm of the organization.

Knowing that Mr. Tuon could have been elected national president had Dr. Seton not entered the ring, some of us do understand his relentless effort to dethrone Dr. Seton; his “friends” voted for the “stranger” instead of him. Is this to proclaim that Dr. Seton did nothing to deserve some of the scorn directed at her? No. I personally think she blew a number of perfect chances to bring the fiasco to an amicable resolve. Being a leader, “the buck stops with you”, as we’ve been reminded in this democratic society. In the sense that Dr. Seton was not able to apply effective measures of conflict resolution resulted into a breakdown of the institution. Is she to be held responsible? Yes, to a large extent.

What bothers me is the tone of personal attacks that have eventually torn this organization asunder. Again, Mr. Tuon has been in the forefront making certain comments that make us seem uncouth. What right does he have to threaten other Liberians from Cape Mount, Lofa or Sinoe County just because they have the audacity to express a favorable statement on behalf of Dr. Seton? Does he have the right to determine who these free people’s friends are? Does he have the right to claim that these people should have no amicable relations with Dr. Seton because he considers her defamed? Isn’t it simply ludicrous (or even illegal) to threaten these peaceful folks? Above all, isn’t it farfetched to give the impression that he’s speaking for Marylanders in general when he is no official spokesperson for Marylanders?

In an e-mail written and published by Mr. Tuon on the University of Liberia list serve (ULIBSAAforum), under the subject, “Final Warning: Robert Sayon Morris: General Secretary Sinoe County Association”, published on September 12, 2004, this is what he wrote:

“…Robert Sayon Morris, a personal and close friend of Ms. Seton, and General Secretary of the National Sinoe County Association, has turned himself into a tool to be used by her to promote the destabilization of NAMCAL-USA.
“We are calling on the leaders and members of the National Sinoe County Association to use any means necessary to put Sayon Morris back into his cage in order to preserve the good relationship between the two organizations… The ongoing behavior of Mr. Morris could create tension between the two organizations and eventually between the two counties…
“From this day forward, any more trash coming from Robert Sayon Morris relating to NAMCAL-USA, on behalf of Mariah Seton, written for Mariah Seton, and put into the public domain, will automatically trigger similar reaction from me and other Marylanders towards the National Sinoe County Association…”

Can anyone reading the above quoted passage from Mr. Tuon’s ranting not come to the conclusion that maybe he crossed the line of common decency among civilized comrades? Is it not a stretch of the imagination for this Don Quixote to assume that our two counties could go to war because he has a personal problem with one or two individuals? Who authorized him to make such public, reckless and indecent threats?

Mind you, this was not the first outrageous statement Mr. Tuon made purportedly on behalf of the peace-loving people of Maryland County. On July 21, 2004, under the subject, “Mariah Seton’s Fake NAMCAL’s Meeting in Philly With Tears”, this is what the lone warrior wrote:

“The past several weeks, NAMCAL’s suspended President, soon to be impeached, Mariah Seton, and her hench-men, Robert Sayon Morris, Anthony Kesselly, Benino Grimes, Abraham Massalley, Sekou Korleh, and Morris Kanneh, launched a blitz of mis-information… only to find out that this was a desperate attempt to use the stage for the promotion of the failing, and soon to be disgraced Arthur Watson and George Wuo campaign.

Mr. Watson and Mr. Wuo went on to win the national elections to become president-elect and vice president-elect respectively. Now in desperation, Mr. Tuon is apparently trying to “kill two birds with one stone”; he has decided to go on the offensive once again by issuing dire warnings in other to further damage the reputations of his two archenemies: Seton and Watson. Unfortunately, other seemingly innocent and up-right citizens have banded with Seton and Watson so Mr. Tuon has taken the liberty to put them in the same category reserved for his enemies.

A group calling itself the Association of Liberian Ministers in the USA, in collaboration with Liberian County Leadership is promoting a National Ethnic/Tribal Reconciliation Conference to be held in Philadelphia, PA. The group lists Dr. Mariah Seton as one of the organizers of the conference. Meanwhile, ULAA, under the leadership of President-elect Watson has endorsed the conference and has urged its member chapters to fully participate to make the effort at reconciliation a worthwhile event.

How does Mr. Tuon react to such development? He reacts with scorn, derision and disparagement. This is what he says: “Again, another important issue of our country is about to be undermined by people who themselves cannot promote peace within their respective US-based organizations… But again, what do you expect from people organizing fictitious groups after falling out from the main Liberian groups they were once involved with?”

Well, it is now no secret that Dr. Mariah Seton has fallen out with NAMCAL-USA, although this may only be relatively true depending on one’s perspective. But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that Dr. Seton has unquestionably fallen out of grace with her previous association. Let’s assume she is the villain and scoundrel Mr. Tuon describes. Here is the point for consideration. Is this conference being single-handedly organized and convened by Dr. Seton? No. A host of names appear to be working in collaboration with her. For example, there are: Reverend Robert M. Karloh, Bishop Darlinston Johnson, Reverend Suppowood, Mr. Dennis Garsinii and Mr. Abraham Massalley.

These individuals represent various groups, organizations and congregations. Are the all guilty of “organizing fictitious groups after falling out from the main Liberian groups they were once involved with”? That is the allegation levied against these folks, by Mr. Tuon:

“All the groups who are involved in this upcoming distortion of the Liberian reconciliation process seem to represent various renegade groups who have failed to work with other Liberians in the US. As they say, “Charity begins at home”. Let these individuals who are parading themselves as promoters of reconciliation among Liberian tribes first establish reconciliation with fellow citizens in America who they can see and talk to before jumping on this very important issue”, writes Mr. Tuon.

These are obviously harsh words to direct at any decent fellow citizen. The question is, is there any truth to these wild allegations or is the writer taking the liberty to jump at conclusions without the benefit of evidence? What could be the basis for such broad generalizations? Are these concerns a matter of reality or just a smear campaign against enemies?

Mr. Tuon quotes some “leaders” who refer to the upcoming conference as a “mockery” and a “joke”. Are these real people or just little figures running amok in the figment of his imagination, or are these deliberate lies? He also makes the serious charge that some of the “religious ministers are not speaking to other ministers they once served with…”

Without giving any clues to support his wild allegations he closes by condemning the Watson-Kesselly led ULAA for supporting and endorsing this group and conference against the organization’s objectives. He claims the endorsement “splits Liberians in the USA”, of course how that comes about is left with the reader to determine since no hard evidence is forthcoming. We must believe ULAA is split because Mr. Tuon says so.

It is unfortunate that Mr. Tuon is using such negative energy to work against a group whose agenda he does not support. It would be easier and proper to channel his energy through positive ways to support his own agenda instead of using destructive tactics to undermine others. It is clear from the aforementioned examples that Mr. Tuon writes with too much emotion without any attempt to provide evidence to his claims.

Does this mean that Mr. Tuon raises no legitimate concerns about the conference to be held in Philadelphia? No. Since Mr. Tuon published his condemnation, many have raised other issues, such as: Who organized this conference? Who’s participating? What’s the agenda? Why isn’t it more inclusive? Is now the time for reconciliation? Is this group ready to handle the responsibility entailed? Are these legitimate concerns? Yes, without a doubt, these questions do deserve to be answered fully by the organizers and patrons.

So the issue here is not to silence Mr. Tuon as he raises valid points of conversation and debate. I’m only concerned about his method of expression and the lack of civility he applies in dealing with his fellow citizens. Mr. Tuon is a good man and needs to be given credit for his relentlessness in pursuing issues. My Advise: Just clean it up, my brother.