The OCD of OSDs
When it comes to Diaspora politics, I am not sure which one is worse: rabid opposition supporters who are convinced they are smarter than the leaders, or lobotomized EPRDF supporters who have been convinced they are dumber than their leaders.
Can you tell? It’s been a revealing weekend at the Wonqette household. A wedding had brought a lot of family members together, and whenever someone lit the poletika match it usually ended in a mushroom cloud.
I am taking as an example my cousin, who has given me express permission to write about our tête-à-têtes, as long as he is afforded the opportunity to rebut. Yeah, sure.
Nothing makes my cousin’s earlobes perk up and quiver like the strings on Mary Armiday’s krar than the tired old question, “Should the opposition join parliament?” He’s like a radar planted in a room, programmed to chirp violently whenever he hears the words “parliament” and “boycott” strung together any which way.
I’m all for opinions. Hell, I am married to a man who bears battle scars from my pregnancies over giving our children multiple, polysyllabic Amharic names heavily emphasizing the “qe” and “che” letters.
What I am saying is… you don’t think the opposition should join the parliament? Okay. But, what’s with the proclamation rendering anything short of a boycott as political heresy? Listen to me, opposition supporters in the Diaspora: tone down the testosterone. Walk it off, people. Walk it off.
Esqueeze me very much, but is it me or have opposition supporters in the Diaspora (OSDs) morphed into policy wonks who think they can dictate what opposition leaders should be doing? It’s not me, right? OSDs are tipping the scale in self-importance? Ah, self-importance. It comes standard in the Ethiopian DNA. To hear my cousin speak, civilization will halt if the opposition joins parliament. So you know what that meant: a bunch of us kept ruminating about why the opposition should join the parliament. We had to stop when it eventually became clear that our cousin was on the verge of colliding with a robust heart attack. Misskeen.
And so the weekend went, my cousin teetering on the verge of a nervous breakdown, sable rattling against "anti-Ethiopian forces", while his loving, supporting family stealthily goaded him towards the brink of insanity. Yes, we are a functional family.
And when did it become chic to lob snide remarks about über econ guru and Weichegud-certified whiz kid Berhanu Nega? Oh, please, OSDs--- take a deep hit from the hookah.
The reason why I like radicalism is that it can be generously ridiculed, so when someone emails me a long, tedious letter ending with “Berhanu is working against the will of the people” I have to salivate.
What makes otherwise intelligent people act so peculiar? My cousin is an educated (if you call people who've attended tiny, northeastern, liberal arts colleges educated), well adjusted and generally affable. But like so many, he’s letting opinions become dictates. He is suddenly an upholder of “the people’s voices” and he is one Tuesday removed from being one of those people who sign off their emails with “Victory to the masses!” Oh, no.
We Ethiopians have a long way to go. We’ve traveled thousands of miles without moving an inch. We are still threatened by moderation and are discomfited by opposing thoughts. We mistake bombast for courage.
How is it that those of us who should be most familiar with the precepts of democracy are the least to exercise it?
There is something remotely heartbreaking about that.