Rowley must earn respect from the citizens

Rowley must earn respect from the citizens
Photo : Keith Rowley

“I propose that we replace her ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indian think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native culture and they will become, what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”

 Lord Thomas B Macaulay, British Parliament, 02nd February, 1835.

It is unfortunate that Keith Rowley has to interpret “oreo” to mean “house nigger.” May be he should have taken some time to explain to his audience the term “house nigger” and its role in the social structure of a slave society.

More than that Keith Rowley should have provided some data to demonstrate that every group in this land has an equal opportunity to access its resources. Unfortunately, he chose not to do so but remained fixated on the “house nigger” label.

A growing tendency in this society is to brand the person who attampts to correct an injustice as racist. It is acceptable that one group dominates the arms forces of this country and holds the top offices of the State. This must not be interpreted as injustice. However, the individual or group who tries to raise this issue and seeks to correct it is branded a racist. A recent case was Israel Khan’s proposal to the incoming Commissioner of Police to correct the ethnic imbalance in the police service. In the most reprehensible manner, Khan was knocked by the editorials of our dailies charging that he was being irresponsible and racist.

One cannot forget that Nizam Mohammed, was a former chair of the Police Service Commission, and was dismissed by the President because of a similar call a few years ago. Jack Warner, a Minister of Government then, jumped at Nizam’s throat and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar joined in condemning his statement. More than that was the demonization of Nizam Mohammed. He was made out to be a racist and disturbing the racial harmony of this former slave colony. The President of the Republic, Professor George Maxwell Richards, subsequently terminated his appointment as Chair of the Police Service Commission.

One daily newspaper was so irresponsible in its condemnation of Nizam Mohammed that it was found guilty of libel and had to pay out hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Interestingly, the newspaper kept that verdict hidden, not bothering to highlight the ruling of the court or make a public apology to Nizam Mohammed.

It is clear that some groups in this society have arrogated unto themselves the right to (mis)behave as they wish. For example, one person can drink in public and behave in the most undignified manner while similar behaviour by another is condemned. One can make the most derogatory remarks on the political platform and leave unscathed while another is nailed to the cross. This assumed privilege of some is eroding the competiveness of our economy resulting in  the closure of businesses like Petrotrin The most competent are always overlooked to favour a few who have arrogated unto themselves a culture of entitlement.

The current government and the manner in which it conducts it affairs is a reflection of the moral degradation of this society. It is not just Dr Keith Rowley and Camille Robinson-Regis but the entire social and moral apparatus of the society that is now dismantling and falling apart. The closure of Petrotrin is a result of this degradation. Petrotrin is only the tip of the ice burg.

Was Nelson Mandela being racist when he struggled against apartheid in South Africa? Had Gandhi committed a wrong by kicking the British out of India? Were William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson, Thomas Buxton and others who fought for the emancipation of the slaves being racists? Should Abraham Lincoln have condoned slavery within the USA?

There was an economic side to the abolition of slavery. It was essential to bolster the rising industrialisation that was sweeping the USA and Europe. It was necessary to push a culture of free and competitive labour that would produce the highest yield at the lowest cost.

Oreo is not a race but a consciousness.  The favouritism of the Prime Minister toward a particular group is nothing short of colonialism when the resources of the State were used to subsidise the planter class.  In fact, the entire State apparatus including Parliament and Cabinet were used to enhance the welfare of that colonial elite class. The era of Tate and Lyle and Bookers are long gone.

The oreo remarks is beyond Rowley and the PNM. It was made in reference to the selling of our State patrimony to a favoured group. Hundreds of mothers cannot afford milk for their babies while this so-called 1% is given lucrative contracts without proper checks and balances.

The oreo remarks are unfortunate but  they are necessary to bring to the attention of the powers that be the grievous situation in which our nation has declined.