The "Logic of Necessary Mutual Exclusivity"

By Mohamedu F. Jones


The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
March 25, 2005


As I read the two articles by my colleagues, Dr. William E. Allen, “Apologies Require Historical Context: A Rebuttal to Mr. Mohamedu F. Jones and Dr. Amos M. D. Sirleaf” and Cllr. John F. Josiah, "The Unlawful and Wrongful Killing of Unspecified Liberians," which were both published on The Perspective on March 24, 2005, I realized that part of what might be in play in both articles was the dynamic of what I will call the “logic of necessary mutual exclusivity.”

The logic of necessary mutual exclusivity means that by making the point that there is a need for the government of Liberia to formally and officially apologize for the unlawful killings on April 22, 1980, as I did, then I necessarily am asserting that political violence began on that day and I am also necessarily excluding the 300,000 others who were killed as a result of recent political violence in Liberia or those who were killed in earlier periods as a result of official violence. Indeed, it is the logic of necessary mutual exclusivity that leads to the conclusion that I am somehow seeing other Liberian political deaths as diminimis in my call for an official apology for the killing of the 13.

My college daughter helped me see my colleagues’ points of view in proper perspective when she noted that for one to call for a memorial to Anne Frank is not to say that the other 6 million Jewish people murdered in Europe during the Holocaust need not be memorialized also or that their deaths are for lesser value in any way. She concluded: it simply means that at the time the person is advocating for constructing a memorial to Anne Frank. Well, in the same way, I was speaking solely to an official apology for the killing of the13 men on April 22, 1980.

On October 12, 2002, I spoke to the Brewerville Civic Association in Atlanta for their Annual Reunion; my speech was published on October 16, 2002 in The Perspective. I am excerpting it below because I addressed the concerns of Cllr. Josiah and Dr. Allen in that speech nearly three years ago.

Liberia's history is filled with political violence: the wars against Liberian citizens, the Kru and Grebo wars are prime examples of national political violence. Many Liberians were violently persecuted so that President Tubman could stay in power: In the 1950's the Colemans (father S. David and son John) were murdered; Nete Sie-Brownell and S. Raymond Horace were imprisoned; and Didhwo Twe was exiled. In the 1960's, E. K. Sherman, H. Boima Fahnbulleh, Sr., among others, were imprisoned.

On April 14, 1979, many Liberians were wrongfully killed in the streets of Monrovia by government forces. On April 12, 1980, members of the Liberian armed forces and their co-conspirators staged a coup d'etat, and announced that they had "liberated" Liberia from a regime that they claimed was "rampantly corrupt" and "oppressive." President Tolbert was cold-bloodedly murdered. On April 23, 1980, 13 Liberian citizens were unlawfully killed in barbaric fashion on a beach of Monrovia. These are crimes from which Liberia has still not yet recovered, even after more than 20 years.

Between 1980 and 1990, thousands of Liberians were murdered, tortured, raped, persecuted, imprisoned, and even buried alive or decapitated by government security forces or their agents, so that President Doe and his collaborators could hold onto power. On the day before Christmas in 1989, war was unleashed upon the people of Liberia for the declared purpose of again "liberating" us, this time from President Doe. In September 1990, President Doe was tortured (on video for the world to see), and eventually murdered, by his fellow Liberians.

In the1990s, our country disintegrated into all-out war - a war in which some of the most egregious crimes against humanity, war crimes, and violations of human rights, in the final decade of the 20th Century occurred.

We Liberians must learn to use non-violent political resolutions for our political problems. Violence as a tool of the political process in Liberia must end.

As shown above, I agreed with Dr. Allen and Cllr. Josiah way back in 2002.