Writers quarrel for various reasons: for stylistic reasons (Hemingway against Faulkner), of physical stature (the compact Keats against Byron 1.80 tall), of respect for Islam (le Carré against Rushdie), sometimes for reasons trivially human (Hans Christian Andersen who passes by the Dickens house for a greeting and, finding himself well, decides to stay for five weeks).
The one between Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and the former friend-student Akwaeke Emezi is not the classic clash between ungrateful students and strict teachers (genre Naipaul against Theroux): we are witnessing accusations of rare lucidity against bullying via social media (under the pretext of defending rights) and the so-called “cancel culture” which inflicts very serious penalties on anyone who does not prove to be faithful enough to the line (as always happens among inflexible moralists then, in the end someone purer than you arrives and puts you under accusation, but that’s another matter).
Here is Adichie, Nigerian, 43 years old, a great writer famous all over the world, one of the most authoritative voices of these difficult times (hasn’t – yet? – won the Nobel but has already had the title of a book printed on t-shirts of Dior, fashion designer Maria Grazia Chiuri is one of his famous fans) against 34-year-old colleague Akwaeke Emezi.
They hadn’t talked to each other for years: it happens. Emezi insulted her friend but then indicated her as the reference person for obtaining the American visa: not beautiful, but that also happens, especially in times of immigration restrictions.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie asked the ex-friend through her site (attracting so much traffic that it went haywire for a few hours and arousing regrets in newspapers around the world for not proposing it to them): “You publicly give me the murderer and do you still feel entitled to use my name when it suits you?”
The answer, in the age of social media where the trials are summary and the atonement is endless, is “of course yes, by God.” Because Emezi has been playing attack from the start, and on social media whoever hits first hits a thousand times (Adichie is the greatest writer, but the other has the most poisoned followers).
It’s a simple story: Adichie helps young Emezi early in her career, they become friends, but four years ago Adichie tells her Bbc that “Trans women are trans women” within a slightly more complex discourse (“I think that if you have lived in the world as a man, with the privileges that the world accords to men, and then you change gender, it becomes difficult for me to equate your experience with the experience of a woman who has lived since the beginning in world as a woman, a woman who has not been granted the privileges of men “).
A position on which one can legitimately discuss in a civil way, or which can be used as a pretext to launch accusations of transphobia. Emezi (non-binary, identifies itself using the pronoun “they”) immediately criticized Adichie on social media, attracting the fatal wrath of her followers (classic method). Adichie then – digging his social grave – defined the article that threw the author of the Harry Potter saga, JK Rowling, into the ravenous meat grinder of Twitter erasers, “reasonable”. It is depressing that the author of such important books as “Half of a Yellow Sun”, “Americanah”, “We should all be feminists” (Einaudi) ends up accused of horrendous crimes against humanity? Yes, but it’s like complaining about bad weather. Adichie rebelled, explained that the culture of bullying for good is “obscene”, and provided the best definition so far ever given of social media (Emezi cleverly uses Instagram stories) used as batons: “There there are many people, on social media, full of hypocrisy and lacking in compassion, able to pontificate easily on Twitter when it comes to kindness but are unable to show true kindness. People whose social media lives are case studies of emotional dryness. People for whom friendship – and its expectations: loyalty, compassion and support – no longer matter ”.
There is no need to add anything else.
June 17, 2021 (change June 17, 2021 | 21:55)
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