Victims of our own device—and we love it!

Osama—The most wanted man in the world was declared dead by US President Barack Obama,

So Osama is dead. So Obama has told the world. And while predictably the irrevocably skeptical will in true Trump fashion demand to see a death certificate and pictures to prove the acknowledged 911 mastermind has truly been laid to sleep with the fishes, I have decided to put my trust in the United States president’s word—which further supports the never-say-never principle. Like so many others worldwide, I await with bated breath for the revelations, the corrections, the related prognostications, denials and reversals that are bound soon to come tumbling from all sorts of reliable sources in the days ahead. (Already the new official word is that Osama when he was shot dead was unarmed, contrary to an earlier White House statement. Also the woman who reportedly was used as a shield by Osama, and was killed by US soldiers, was in fact shot in the leg and survives).
In the meantime, let me say there are still many who truly believe Elvis is not dead, that he has been sighted at various shopping malls, that the earth is flat, that man has never made it to the moon and that aliens run things down here, that life on earth is more or less a Punch and Judy show and we little more than puppets on a string, not at all responsible for our actions.
Enough! Recently I read an article entitled “From Bad Manners to Charm School” by Earl Bousquet. Let us for once give Earl his pearl. I believe I can safely say he has been doing what we do longer than have most of us. By which I mean that he has been a practicing journalist a very long time and knows what it’s like to risk life and limb every time you write what you believe to be the truth. Indeed, some of the bolder steps in my own career were taken in defense of Earl after a particular prime minister decided truth was only so when he said it was and set about making it impossible for Earl to feed himself and his family. My first appearances on a Labour Party platform (in the time of Julian Hunte) were actually in the best interests of a campaign on behalf of not only Earl but other Saint Lucian journalists as well, who, whether or not they knew it, were automatically also threatened.
Predictably, some who persisted in the false belief that journalists had no business in politics and certainly should never mount a political platform if they cherished their credibility, publicly criticized me. My response was that my civic duties would always take precedence over my job. At the same time, I dared them to prove anything I said during the campaign for press freedom was not absolutely true. In any event, I have always believed the citizen’s first duty is always to demand good government—never mind the howling partisan hordes.
It should also be said that over the years Earl and I have been work colleagues, friends and frenemies—all depending on where we stood in relation to a public issue. For instance, I argued that he could not legitimately claim to be practicing journalism when in truth he was Kenny Anthony’s mouthpiece, as they say, paid to make the prime minister look good—in much the same way that I could not pretend to be first and foremost a working journalist while hosting TALK. We continue to disagree on that of course but, I am very pleased to say, in a manner far friendlier than during his period as Kenny Anthony’s press secretary.
Which returns us to Earl’s earlier-mentioned article in the Voice, wherein he bemoaned the antics of our parliamentarians during the last budget debate: “The performance and utterances, the contents of their presentations and their disposition towards each other, unfortunately, underlined to all seeing and hearing, just why so many learned people insist, wrongly, I also insist—that all politicians are the same and that no politician is different, and that no politician can change. People actually believe, by what they see and hear, that politics actually changes people from humans to beasts.
“On a day when they should be debating the official Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure that will decide whether we as a country and as a people turn the curve later in this financial year or not, there they were (certain MPs) ignoring the figures and concentrating on playing I-can-cuss-you-more-than-you-can-cuss-me!”
As I say, I’ve been reading Earl a long, long time and know his flow is normally a lot smoother than here indicated. If I am correct, might the problem lie in his trying to serve two masters on the occasion, one being the journalist in his soul, the other, well, let us say, his loyalty to his party? Just asking, you understand. Notice how Earl goes out of his way to place “certain MPs” in parentheses, as if separating them from the rest of the herd?
Finally, Earl offers a solution to the disease at the heart of his complaint. He recalls a prescription by a Dr Fenton Abenaty, proffered, writes Earl, before the 2006 general elections: “Before choosing candidates for parliamentary elections, the political parties should send them to charm school. ”
I dare to say that if there is one quality our politicians have in abundance it is charm—as in “the quality of pleasing and delighting.” Is that not at the root of the problem? Do you suppose our parliamentarians would behave as they do if not for the tacit and blatant support assured them by delighted and pleased supporters of their respective parties?
You have only to attend a political rally in Saint Lucia for further proof that our politicians are masters when it comes to pleasing and delighting their audiences—especially in the election season. If words won’t do it, count on it, chicken and rum certainly will.
As for the I-can-cuss-you-better-than-you-can-cuss-me game (which brings to mind the old Howard Keel song from “Annie Get Your Gun,” entitled: Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”—quite likely Earl and I alone will recall such ancient cinematic phenomena lol), I suspect the writer either is bending over to be nice to “certain MPs” or he plain missed the point altogether. Those guys were not simply “cussing” and piconging in the regular if sickening fashion, Earl. On the occasion of what was allowed by the Speaker to pass for a budget debate they were openly accusing each other of theft, nepotism, prevarication, fraud, false pretense and more, not to mention their threats across the table.
I dare to suggest that when two sides openly refer to each other as crooks, what is the onlooker supposed to believe if not that he is witnessing crooks warring over turf. (And we wonder where our turf-protecting murderous youth get their inspiration?) Which
returns Osama bin Laden to my mind . . . but later for that. The worst part is that local MPs continue to imitate their 80s predecessors—with absolute contempt for the people and our institutions—as if safe in the knowledge that we are too blinded by prejudice and misplaced loyalties to see we are in all respects victims of our own device.
I tell you, dear reader, if parliament in Saint Lucia were made of glass, thanks to the stone throwers, the people would forever be lumbered with cost over-runs!

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