Seeking the Truth about Charles Taylor

Tonight I was hoping to get the “ok” from Pauline in Ivory Coast to do the podcast that focuses on Charles Taylor, which we’ve been discussing in sporatic email. Anyone who either reads the Known Universe or heard my program about the conflict in Ivory Coast remembers Pauline, the roving reporter transplanted from Amsterdam to Abidjan. Last I spoke with her she had just returned from a visit to Dakar, Senegal. Talk about adventure!

You may recall my post about a month ago bringing up the topic of Charles Taylor and pondering whether or not he is a sociopath, and generally discussing his alleged crimes. Pauline read it, and offered another point of view on the whole thing. She’d just returned from Liberia, and mentioned how in reality, many people there still support their former president and despite all the things he stands accused of, think his actions were justified. I was a bit surprised to hear it, although I think it’s a normal response in many cases that the abused still love the abuser.

But I leave the details and the closer analysis to the podcast, as soon as I reconnect with her. In the mean time I’m sorting through more details of his life, things I hadn’t considered before. Here are some eye-opening highlights:

– Taylor actually broke out of a Massachesetts prison back in in 1984! Where he was being held for embezzling almost 1 million dollars from a Liberia related institution. When I say broke out, I mean hollywood style, complete with rope of bed sheets, sawing through bars, and a getaway car. Talk about good training for later becoming president.

– In 1997, after leading one faction of a civil war in Liberia, elections were held and he ran for president. One of his campaign slogans was, “He killed my Ma, he killed my Pa, but I will vote for him.” – He went on to win by a landslide.

– Pat Robertson, famous televangelist who occasionally urges his viewers to assasinate world leaders, struck a deal with Taylor back in 1994. The deal gave Robertson the right to the diamond rich mines of Liberia, which were transported via airplane through his Operation Blessing relief organization. Robertson told his viewers that those flights were actually flying relief supplies to the victims of the genocide in Rwanda.

All this being said. I’ve never been to Liberia. I’ve never walked a day in the shoes of a Liberian, and certainly will never fully understand how all that trauma from so much war and manipulation can effect you. All the more reason I look forward to hearing from Pauline, who fortunately for all of us, has been looking into these questions, and trying to gather more information and testimony from people who lived it and continue to live in the new Liberia, post-Charles Taylor.