By Grace Okpe
With his report, titled “Muslim extremists accused of targeting Christians in Nigeria,” a supposed investigative reporter for One America News Network (OAN), Neil W. McCabe met all the requirements for being declared brain damaged. But it is no surprise when one realizes that the organization he works for, OAN, is a certified right-wing media outlet that retails everything from conspiracy theories to manic racism. It is a veritable platform of intolerant right-wing western terrorists who still believe that the countries succumbing to United States’ contrived crises are merely part of a pyrotechnic display in a Hollywood flick.
Since OAN has been identified as right-wing, it is important to get a fair sense of what concept entails. The Dictionary defined right-wing as “the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system,” while Wikipedia says “Right-wing politics hold that certain social orders and hierarchies are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, or tradition.” It went further to state that “the term extreme right-wing has also been applied to movements including fascism, Nazism, and racial supremacy.” This tells us that the driving ideology behind OAN sees Nigeria and the whole of Africa as inferior, a people in whose affairs their own country must continually meddle in because they are incapable of directing their own affairs.
Apparently, OAN is not just into being right-wing it is into the extreme kind of right-wing, bordering on the alt-right. OAN is among the right-wing fanatics that believe Africa, including Nigeria, must be reported into crisis that will pave the way for a re-colonization by white supremacists. It is, therefore, a surprise that the referenced report by McCabe made it to be aired and subsequently promoted on social media in spite of the fact that it was replete with crass ignorance presented as facts. The report is no doubt part of America’s right-wing’s false flag to justify a future plan of sending an army of occupation into Nigeria as a means of further destabilizing the world to the sadistic joy of white supremacists.
The title of the report, “Muslim extremists accused of targeting Christians in Nigeria,” is the first red flag for any sane human being to realize that the reporter, his editors and the entire OAN infrastructure know next to nothing about what they reported. The report continued the faulty premise of a Nigeria’s Christian-south and Muslim-north, which anyone that is genuinely knowledgeable about Nigeria knows to be one of the sad fallacies of the modern world. Taraba and Plateau states in the north have Christian governors, large Christian populations to make the election of these governors possible and they are predominantly western in outlook.
Other northern states like Kaduna, Bauchi, and Gombe have Christian populations while there is no northern state without Christians. In the south, states like Oyo, Osun, and Ondo have large Muslim populations. So the kind of ignorance promoted on OAN becomes confounding and doubly so.
Another irresponsible aspect of the report is the lie that Christians are being killed and displaced. This is dangerous because of its capacity to misdirect attention and intervention. While communal, herdsmen and terrorist attacks have in some instance sacked northern villages with Christians, Muslim dominated villages have suffered the same fate.
Mosques have been attacked just churches have been targeted. Statistics for the casualty of terrorist attacks are not broken down into religious groupings but there is nothing to prove that more Christian than Muslim have been killed; any classification along this line would have been irresponsible because that will amount to trivializing the sanctity of human life, a fact that was lost on those that were insensitive enough to have published the OAN report.
The height of insult was McCabe intoning that “with the country’s heavily Muslim northern states officially governed by Sharia law. It is also in the north that terrorist groups like Boko Haram and West Africa’s ISIS operate freely. There is also the anti-Christian militia called Hausa/Fulani.” Someone is ignorant to the point of not knowing that Hausa/Fulani denotes ethnic nationalities and not militias. This character has no business being a reporter, talk less of an investigative reporter. Beyond this glaring slip speaking to the intellectual shallowness of McCabe as a reporter, it also confirm the extent of mental deficit of the audience his medium, OAN, appeals to.
To justify this insult to Nigeria, OAN found no other than Frank J. Gaffney Jr., whose Wikipedia entry reads “American anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist and the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy.” His role in the report, even though he was cited as an expert, was to stoke anti-Muslim sentiments in a way that will further pitch adherents of the two dominant faiths in Nigeria against each other.
Add to that Gaffeny’s irrational belligerence against Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, then one will realize that the report itself must have been commissioned at the instance of this right-wing fanatic, who incidentally is the only talking head for the entire duration of the clip. It is appalling how this same fanatic dared described Professor Osinbajo a liar because he is not adopting succumbing to the kind of right-wing extremism expected in some quarters.
However, the liars are OAN, Gaffney and McCabe. A band of fanatics that refused to acknowledge that their country’s inordinate meddling in the Middle East was responsible for creating, empowering and arming ISIS. The surplus from the logistics so provided to the terror group was what it deployed for taking over Boko Haram stragglers to build the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).
They lied by claiming that jihadists freely operate in the north when in reality they are now confined to the northeast (as opposed to the entire north) and that the body counts for neutralized terrorists have been steadily climbing owing to the ruthlessness with which the Nigerian Army is going after them. They are in denial of the fact that what the military is now dealing with has less to do with their right-wing conspiracy theory but of a foreign-sponsored insurrection or which fanatics like McCabe and Gaffney should take responsibility.
They also demonstrated ignorance about the role that global phenomenon like climate change, globalization (of terrorism) and cultural interference are playing in the crisis. They lied to make everything appear as having solely sectarian causes. With such lies, it becomes difficult to think about holistic solutions that will address the problems without creating new ones.
There is a temptation to treat the lies told in the OAN report as fringe since that channel is not known in Nigeria. But there is a great risk that some people can cite it as proof of Christian persecution as the dramatis personae behind the report have hallucinated. There is also the risk that the report will give ISWAP terrorists the impression that they will get the international attention they are craving by targeting Christians, something the mentally challenged characters behind the report apparently did not contemplate or are too selfish to treat as a veritable risk. The report is also dangerous because it can erode the trust of citizens that are swayed by it lies such that they will become reluctant to volunteer useful information to security and military personnel, which they may begin to perceive as tilted towards a particular religion or ethnic group.
The publication of the report is an opportunity for the government of Nigeria. It exposed, in part, some of those that are doing all they can to transform the country’s terrorism problem into a full-blown sectarian war by pitching Christians against Muslims; “civil war” as Gaffney opted to refer to it, which implies this is the end he desires to see in Nigeria.
The authorities in Nigeria must call out OAN, McCabe, and Gaffney in addition to going the extra mile of educating citizens that not all reports that emanate from the United States or any western country can be treated as relevant or accurate. They must remind Nigerians at all times how the country’s military daily sacrifice to undo the damage being done by the world’s right-wing fanatics.
Okpe Phd wrote this piece from Federal University Lafia.