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Can Two Wrongs Make A Right? The Action Of Pres. Trump and Reaction Of US House Speaker Pelosi

By Atty Philip N. Wesseh (PNW)

One of the sayings I heard in many years ago was that “TWO WRONGS CANNOT MAKE A RIGHT.” This may be interpreted in many ways, but my understanding about this is that if someone did something wrong or unpleasant to another person, it is advisable for the affected person to avoid engaging in an action as the offender did. In other words, if one is offended by another that is considered wrong; the offended should not pursue similar wrong path.

This is why I observed Tuesday night when the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump refused to shake the hand of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi of that country when the President was about to deliver what is known as the ”STATE OF THE UNION,” something we refer to in this country as “”ANNUAL ADDRESS” by the President of Liberia on the Fourth Monday of January of each year.

According to research, If someone says ‘Two wrongs don’t make a right’, it means that one should not do harm to a person who has done harm to you, even if you think that person deserves it. The first known citation in the USA is in a 1783 letter by Benjamin Rush: Two wrongs don’t make one right: Two wrongs won’t right a wrong. A second misdeed or mistake does not cancel the first, as in don’t take his ball just because he took yours—two wrongs do not make a right. This proverbial adage sounds ancient but was first recorded in 1783, as three wrongs will not make one right.

The research says the meaning of this phrase is that, “ It is not acceptable to do a bad thing just because someone else has done it.

Background: The expression has a great many uses as it can be used in the context of it not being okay to do wrong to someone else because they have wronged you, such as it is not right to vandalize a person’s property because they have vandalized yours. It can also be used in the context of it not being acceptable to justify something because one sees others do it – for example a politician justifying his untruths because others also lie.

It could be argued that this seemingly simple expression is at the heart of civilization as a whole. For example, a society that believes in the law of retaliation (“an eye for an eye”) holds, at a legal level, that two wrongs do make a right. While the society that believes that, as Martin Luther King, Jr. once put it, “the old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind,” is built on an entirely different ethical norm. The first known citation in the USA is in a 1783 letter by Benjamin Rush: Two wrongs don’t make one right: Two wrongs won’t right a wrong. Benjamin Rush was an American physician, politician and educator who was best known for his activities during the American Revolution and for signing the Declaration of Independence.

On the issue at bar, in keeping with etiquette, whenever the President is to deliver his address, the Speaker has to introduce him before speaking. In so doing, the Speaker upon receiving a copy of the President’s address, would offer her hand for handshake, which Speaker Pelosi did. To the surprise of the audience and viewing public, President Trump snubbed the Speaker who was sitting close to Vice President Mike Pence.

One definition of the French word étiquette is “ticket” or “label attached to something for identification.” In 16th-century Spain, the French word was borrowed (and altered to “etiqueta”) to refer to the written protocols describing orders of precedence and behavior…”
Back to the issue: Apparently because the President in the glare of the audience refused to shake her hand, Speaker Pelosi immediately after the President delivered his message and was on his way out of the podium, was seen tearing the President’s speech in two parts.

Obviously, the refusal of the President to shake the Speaker’s hand and the Speaker’s reaction of vexatious tearing of the President’s speech, captioned the attention of members of the media at the ceremony, thereby making this an issue of discussion, bringing to focus the soured relationship between the two regarding some issues in that country.

Given our idiosyncrasies, there would always be disagreements or differences, whether in the home or place of work. But what matters is how those disagreements are handled. Politically, a great country like the USA, the biggest democracy on earth, there would be disagreement on national issues, but what took place last Tuesday evening was embarrassing and seriously caused opprobrium to fall on that great country that many admire.

Let me say that President Trump was wrong for not shaking the hand of the Speaker, while equally, the Speaker was wrong for tearing the President’s speech. No matter how angry the Speaker was, she should have exercised restraint, as many would have admired her for such posture.

As it is said, two wrongs cannot make a right. “It is not acceptable to do a bad thing just because someone else has done it. Indeed, the two American senior officials behaviorally did not do well with such unbecoming or improper acts. Conversely, sometimes people vent their anger in such a way, but not in such a forum with the world watching.

In this country, it is said that whenever people with intimate relationship are fusing and a visitor enters their home, they would behave as if they were not fussing. But when the visitor leaves, they would return to their bitterness.

Yes, there have been some differences between Democrats of Speaker Pelosi and Republicans of President Trump and have some differences on issues, including the Impeachment trial which ended yesterday. Tuesday’s display by the two leaders, especially the Speaker was ill-advised.

Even though the Speaker and other Democrats have problems with some portions of the speech, this, still, did not warrant such reaction by the Speaker. The forum was to resort to the media for appropriate responses, as others, including the Governor of Michigan did immediately after the speech.

As Liberians say, it was wrong for them to wash their “dirty clothes in the public.” This idiom means no matter the misunderstanding, or differences, it is advisable to avoid others knowing by bringing it in the glare of the public.

Again, two wrongs cannot make a right. Hence, no one was right in this situation; all of them are adjudged wrong. The rest leaves with Americans, as I, apart from discussing it, I have no standing to act.

I Rest My Case.

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