REPUTATION INCENTIVE

Public outrage over Ngeno, Sudi nothing more than virtue signalling

Those calling for Ngeno, Sudi and Ruto’s resignation, and the retraction of their utterances, are merely doing so as a political reputational incentive

In Summary

• If you are a visitor to our land, you would be forgiven to mistakenly think that this week we had a Kenya’s Got Talent on Virtue Signalling competition.

• This was instigated after Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi were accused of hurling abusive epithets against President Uhuru Kenyatta

Women leaders condemn utterances made by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and his Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno in Nyeri on Wednesday.
Women leaders condemn utterances made by Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and his Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno in Nyeri on Wednesday.
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

You brood of vipers!

How can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. But I tell you that everyone will have to give an account on the day of judgement for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words, you will be condemned. Mathew 12:34-37.

This was an account of Jesus rebuking the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Pharisees were the law keepers and promoters of tradition, while the Sadducees comprised the wealthier ruling class. Over time, these two constituencies had become corrupt, legalistic, hypocritical, wicked and oppressors of the poor.

 

The sobriquet ‘brood of vipers’ had a deeper meaning that was obvious at first glance. The viper is an evil and devious creature with a deadly venom. Jesus called them vipers because they abused their office by burdening others with strict requirements, while not requiring the same of themselves, for stealing from the weak, for making gold, money and greed their main focus, and for being social climbers.

He was angered by their moral grandstanding where outwardly, they made a show of righteousness, yet inwardly, they were full of the poison of wickedness. Their outwards appearance was to masquerade how evil they really were on the inside.

In philosophy-speak, this is known as virtue-signalling. It is the action or practice of publicly expressing opinions or sentiments intended to demonstrate one’s good character, or the moral correctness of one’s position on a particular issue.

It is a public display of feigned righteousness with exaggerated feelings of outrage intended to make the virtue signaller appear morally superior by condemning others. Virtue signallers always have a strategic reason to publicly display their disingenuous behaviour of exaggerated feelings of outrage which does not reflect their true thoughts and beliefs.

If you are a visitor to our land, you would be forgiven to mistakenly think that this week we had a Kenya’s Got Talent on Virtue Signalling competition. This was instigated after Emurua Dikirr MP Johana Ngeno and Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi were accused of hurling abusive epithets against President Uhuru Kenyatta, and which it was alleged were intended to instigate ethnic belligerence.

It was reported that the MPs issued the insulting remarks against President Kenyatta in their defence of Deputy President William Ruto. They allegedly accused the President of mistreating the Deputy President by ostensibly sidelining him from running the affairs of government. In their vexation, they asked the President to dissolve the government and quit, if he was uncomfortable working with Ruto. Ngeno also reminded the president that this country belongs to all Kenyans and not to a select few.

Subsequently, the Director of Public Prosecutions approved Ngeno’s arrest and prosecution. The DPP stated that he would prefer criminal charges against him because he was satisfied the MP's utterances could potentially pit communities against each other. The MP was later arrested, despite his constituents’ endeavour to shield him from being apprehended.

 

And just like that, as if on cue, the politicos and their flunkeys took to the stage to play to the gallery. They competed to shout the loudest in expressing their outrage over the alleged abusive utterances. Some threatened to strip naked, while Kanu honchos expelled the MP from the party.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any more comical, the virtue signallers called for Ruto’s resignation, never mind he is not the one facing the incitement charges. They have also been silent on making similar spirited demands on governors in their own parties, who have been charged with economic crimes.

The virtue signallers are convinced and would like to persuade us too, that Ngeno and Sudi are marionettes, and that their marionettist is the Deputy President. That notwithstanding, some of them are not virtuous by any stretch of the imagination. They have equally previously hurled repugnant insults at the President and vice versa. Therefore, by this marionettes assertion, they have inadvertently invited us to deduce who their marionettist is. And your guess is as good as mine.

If you want to know who rules over you, look at who you are not allowed to criticise. If you want to know who the subjugated class is, look at who is not allowed to get angry.
Susan Mugwe

Begs the question, where is the commensurate indignation as close to two million Kenyans — some of who are pregnant mothers who depend on antiretroviral drugs from public hospitals to prevent infecting their babies — have been without the life-saving drugs for the last four months?  Or when many Kenyans have been left vulnerable to Covid-19 infection following the Kemsa scandal? Or when ordinary mothers with small babies were evicted out into the cold night following demolitions of their houses in Kariobangi and Ruai?

I submit that the public outrage we are being treated to is nothing more than virtue signalling. It does not pass the smell test. Those calling for Ngeno, Sudi and Ruto’s resignation, and the retraction of their utterances, are merely doing so as a political reputational incentive, given that some of them have been accused of worse crimes that negatively affected and impacted millions of people.

They surmise that failure to publicly express moral disgust, might be construed as not being in support of the president. Would a modern day Jesus call them a brood of vipers? You be the judge.

I do not condone the epithets pronounced, but neither do I accept the feigned wrath publicly exhibited. Undoubtedly, this nation has witnessed worse inhumane crimes, which if there was a resonating outcry, would have probably served as a deterrent for future injustices. What we have witnessed is undeniably a case of he who pays the piper calls the tune.

Finally, my unsolicited advice is to Wanjiku. If you want to know who rules over you, look at who you are not allowed to criticise. If you want to know who the subjugated class is, look at who is not allowed to get angry.

For the powerful, crimes are those that others commit - Noam Chomsky