Thursday, June 25, 2009

Between the lines

Between the lines

Published: 25 Jun 2009

I have been following some of the more recent utterings of the Prime Minister and even though I consider myself possessed of a sturdy constitution, I have been tickled incontinent by his remarks and what they portend.

logoRecently at the PNM convention/ritual gathering, the Prime Minister raised the spectre of blood and mayhem if we do not yield to his integration ideologies. “…We cannot stand idly by and watch the Caribbean in this economic situation and do nothing. We will pay in blood for taking such a position.” WDM!!!!!! Let me break it down for you like Chuck D.

How would the leaders of the eastern Caribbean nations referenced in his speech digest the perception of their countrymen as one GDP point away from scrambling everything buoyant together for a flotilla bound for Trini shores, all of them a band of ne’er-do-wells and nefarious characters? Try hearing it how I did: “Our Caribbean brothers and sisters, it is crucial that we form ourselves into a political union. It is imperative that we ensure that your economies remain stable so that you don’t come to Trinidad to kill us all and foster narco-trafficking in the region.

“We shall overcome, my brothers and sisters! You shall overcome! As long as you don’t come over!” In his address to the PNMites, Mr Manning is admitting that notwithstanding the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on fast patrol boat contracts and surveillance equipment, we will be powerless in the face of refugee-laden pirogues penetrating our defences.

There is no doubt these “small islanders” will set up criminal enterprises and trigger an onslaught of murder and mayhem the likes of which we have never seen! Wait a minute… It is obvious, the only solution to avoid this terrible fate is to create this union and along with it a single passport so that they can pour into our borders legally.

“You agree with me or not?” he asks the mesmerised audience waiting out the speech patiently for the smorgasbord of food and drink, a fleeting opportunity to press the flesh with the anointed one, and the climax of DJ music (dahlin oyeeeee, let’s have a good good time!) for the party faithful to undulate their massive buttocks with such ferocity as to spark a small blaze in their flammable spandex tights. Funny that we are now being terrorised with the prospect of being overrun by illegal migrants when the PNM has a well established history of encouraging Grenadians to come here to set up a beachhead at Sea Lots. What was convenient then isn’t now? “I am not an obeah man. I have been around a long time.” We know, heavens to Betsy, we know.

There was, though, a most offensive remark for which I wager we will faster see Mr Manning step down from office than apologise for. It was quite plainly a deeply hurtful inference. He indicated his deep sorrow at the injunction on his detailing the circumstances at the heart of the brutal murder of Tecia Henry. “I know all of you know the facts. Ent you know (the judicious application of the term ent designed to elicit head nodding from the faithful in the audience).

Don’t take it at face value. That is all I would say.” Leave it to Mr Manning to confuse a thinly veiled insinuation with a cipher. It reminds me of a family friend who is “ah PNM ’till ah dead” who routinely offers her theories on the latest murders to assuage the prevailing impression of crime beyond control. “But you know dem was in drugs, daiz why de kill de boy!”

At the end of it, Mr Prime Minister, a child has been killed, a ten-year-old girl will celebrate her 11th birthday being put into the dirt , no cake, no ice cream, only flowers of mourning and a torrent of tears insufficient still to quell the burning fires of the Laventille heart. But she done dead arready, why not exploit her passing for crass political expedience. “That is all I would say” was already too much. Yet we must ask ourselves, have we seen the signs of a chronic condition exhibited recently by our beneficent leader, a condition observed in medical science as “pedeore” (foot in mouth). Let us go back to some earlier manifestations of this troubling malaise.

“What I noticed this morning was the regular anti-smelter crowd. That is what I saw, which means there is nothing new. I looked very carefully to see the people of La Brea and they were not there.” One is left to assume that Mr Manning has a digital file embedded in his brain of every La Brea resident such that he could recognise any Labrean upon sight. It gets worse: “…anti-smelter outsiders who have no business in La Brea.” Does he mean that Trinidadians not resident in La Brea need a visa to be in that southern community? Are activists, environmentalists and Trinis concerned about the possible impacts of the smelter banned from La Brea?

The most spine-chilling remark to issue forth from his blessed lips however had to have been his admonition to his supporters at the PNM family day no less: “All I am saying to you, ladies an gentlemen, is sharpen your political cutlasses!” Hear that kids? Sharpen your political cutlasses. In a society where violence is rampant, young men are killed for watching the area don the wrong way, this is the advice doled out on a sunny Sunday afternoon at a sports and family day.

By the way Mr Panday, you are the last person to offer comment on that remark. “You must do them before they do you!” Remember that gem? That simple exhortation provoked an immediate reaction amongst some supporters at the Rienzi Complex who were a molotov cocktail of forres park special reserve and “maximum leader” fervour. We live in times of economic turmoil, rising unemployment, a squall of crime with the minutes between each thunder clap shorter, the stories of brutal killings closer to home.

In the midst of all of this we are forced to contend with a barrage of irresponsible statements. Questions of a Karen Teshiera/ Clico conflict are deflected, yet Brigid Anisette-George is jettisoned with dispatch, her potential conflict apparently significant enough to suggest possible legal action for unnamed parties. Before we knew it Ron Jeremy was riding high again as the AG. Where does this insanity all end? It is clear that the media have not been able to move the public sufficiently to stand against this tyranny.

I recently cast my eye on a flyer announcing a rally meant to discuss many of the issues I have raised in this column. From what I can tell it is an amalgamation of civil society groups and activists. It looks like a very promising change from the generations of apathy which has allowed politicians to live out their dreams and weave our nightmares in this country. Read between the lines people, before the only lines on offer are an obituary of our nation.

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