Don't blame Nigeria

I delved into Lisa Provence's latest news piece [October 7: "Nigeria's latest: scam targets classified ad buyers] with great interest, eager to find out the circumstances under which the Nigerian state was being accused of targeting local classified ad users. I was also interested in learning about the chain of scams that led this one to be called "the latest."

Either bad journalism or bad sarcasm left me disappointed.

Aside from the "Nigeria's latest Scam" headline and an opener condemning the "wily Nigerians [who] came up [with] another plan to scam the dollars of the unwary," the nation and her peoples are not indicted at all. Rather, it seems, one or more people with access to a certain address in Nigeria were using that address to try to scam independent sellers out of some cash. Hardly the act of a nation.

I concede that there could be background information of which I am unaware, i.e., previous scams undertaken by the Nigerian state, that might have influenced this piece, thus making the head and opener at least relevant, though no less inappropriate. If so, that information should have been included to qualify the generalizing statements.

It seems more likely, however, that sarcasm and not omitted information is the sources of the author's generalizations about Nigeria. But even that intention is unclear, as no source but the author herself claims in the article that Nigeria is a scam artist.

Scammers in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Florida are also mentioned, yet the actions of these parties are not generalized to indict entire nations or states.

The Hook has fallen into the trap of exploiting the stereotypes and ignorance employed by the people of this nation in regard to Africa and her nations. We– and I'm including myself and presumably the author in this– do not know a great deal about Nigeria, so it's easy to make the claim that the nation is in on this "latest scam."

It won't work for Florida, because visions of hurricanes and grandparents would have us balking at the generalization in a second. Perhaps in this instance we should be thankful, at least, that the scam was not attributed to the entire continent.

Logan Sachon
Charlottesville
lms3z@cms.mail.virginia.edu

 

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