On Being Liberian and Patriotic

By Theodore Hodge

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

May 16, 2003

The allaboutliberia.com website carried an opinion piece under the title: "If Hodge is Liberian, then He's Unpatriotic". This apparently was in response to an article I recently published calling for tougher sanctions against Liberia.

The writer, one Nya Pehmie (presumably a fellow Liberian), fails to support his thesis. Instead, he carelessly delves into triviality. He says my name is un-African and assumes I am a Westerner. Well, let me dispel that misconception. I am a Liberian and if you want to know why I have a "Western" name, I've got one advice for you: Read history - read Liberian history.

Mr. Pehmie claims I am "no different from the rebel who takes up arm against his own brother". I respectfully beg to disagree. How such a conclusion could have been drawn defies logic. Writing that article (as I have done many a time in the recent past), was simply an intellectual and democratic exercise. Mr. Pehmie and I live in a pluralistic and democratic society that guarantees us the right to express ideas freely. My call for sanctions against Liberia is particularly non-violent. How it is tantamount to such violence as practiced by "rebels with arms" is mind-boggling.

I shall leave the second paragraph by Mr. Pehmie alone. His arguments and conclusions derived are simply too incoherent for a sound mind to follow. I don't know whether to recommend that he studies elementary logic or simply work on his composition skills.

In his last paragraph, without providing an iota of evidence, he accuses me of being "unpatriotic and full of self-hate". This is laughable. Indeed. Again he writes: "If you think that patriotism is punishing your people, you should think again". Instead of concentrating on what my thoughts were, why don't you concentrate on what I wrote?

Lastly, one thing is quite in order. Let's define the word "patriotism". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English language defines the word as: "Love of and devotion to one's country".

I love my country in word, deed and action. That makes me a true patriot. On the other hand, Mr. Pehmie seems to think that blind allegiance to the government or rulers of the country makes one a patriot. I oppose the tyrannical rule of Charles Taylor. That does not make me unpatriotic.