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In politics one gets accustomed to being attacked and blamed for bad things. I have had my fair share of those. Only recently some viewers of the Buxtonion Morning Time labeled me a pacifist who is preaching a passive message to the opposition base. They reasoned that the PPP’s aggression must be met with counter-aggression and that my failure to advance that message rendered me out of step with the times. It is a view that has developed over the last few months. It started with my refusal to endorse the anti-vaccine movement even as I sympathize with the opposition to premature government mandates. I later defended the opposition base against criticisms that they are not coming out in large numbers to opposition protests. I called on us in the opposition to till the soil and water the plants so that the trees can bear fruits. Finally, I cautioned against anti-Gandhi attacks even as I am opposed to the naming a street after him at this time. To bring Gandhi into our ethnic mess at this time is a disservice to him.
The irony is that while these opposition supporters think that I am being passive, the PPP is painting me as a purveyor of aggression against the government. There is a video by the PPP that is circulating on social media showing me as one of the persons responsible for the burning down of the Brickdam police station. Mr. Jagdeo followed up with a blistering attack on me, Aubrey Norton, Sherrod Duncan, Rickford Burke and Mark Benschop for wanting to bring down the PPP. This is Jagdeo’s second attack on me in recent months.
What is my offence? It is my call on opposition supporters two months ago at a demonstration in Victoria to undermine the government’s agenda of racism, domination and economic aggression. Initially Jagdeo declared that I called for undermining of the government’s vaccine program. He corrected that in his recent interview where he described my “mad rant.” He called my sanity into question and opined that I am smarting from my loss of privilege which I enjoyed under the coalition. He did not pinpoint the privilege that I lost. He may not know of David Rudder’s Mad Man Rant—“The mad man rant is the only salvation.”
Over the years I have been a target of choice for the Vice President. He does not like to be accused of racism and I do just that. He is obviously proud of his party’s ability to cultivate pockets of African Guyanese as PPP enforcers. I am not amused by it. For me, it is the worst form of racism when you use institutional power to take advantage of the vulnerabilities of a rival ethnic group. I have met Mr. Jagdeo a few times and all of our encounters have been pleasant, So I have to assume that he is a good man. But my objection is not to Jagdeo the man; it is to Jagdeo’s politics.
While other leaders have sought to use state power to empower the poor, he has used it to institute his party’s dominance over the State, Government and Society. In the context of Guyana, the principal outcome of that agenda is ethnic dominance. I have also been opposed to the ease and frequency with which violence of the State is unleased on African Guyanese under governments that Mr. Jagdeo has been associated with. I am not surprised then that Mr. Jagdeo would see me as a prime enemy and seek to project me as the embodiment of evil. A political bully is always suspicious of fearlessness.
Now to the word, the offending word—Undermine. I cannot in all conscience tell supporters to cooperate with a government that undermines ethno-racial peace. I cannot tell supporters obey a government that evidently facilitates economic genocide by the State and extrajudicial killings by the police. I cannot join in the empty calls on a deaf government to do right. I cannot call on supporters to be passive in the face of State violence. But it is not my place to call for violence against the State. Such calls coming from me would be futile and counterproductive.
So, what to do? People must use creative ways to slow down and ultimate wreck the train of aggression by the government. I do not have a blueprint of how to accomplish that outcome. The housewife will know best how to act. So too will the teacher, nurse, pensioner, student, government worker, police, soldier, the unemployed youth– they are all consumed. Let me paraphrase Rex Nettleford here–When people are oppressed, they retreat to a place where the oppressor cannot see or hear or spy on them. You wait until the oppressor turns his back and you remove the bridge that he uses to invade your space. Turn his Yes into No. Dull his sharp knife. Hide his whip when he sleeps. Challenge his miseducation with revolutionary education. Laugh at him when his speech stumbles. Expose his hidden racism. Hide his mask when he falls asleep.
Mr. Jagdeo is not a fool. He knows why the word “Undermine” frightens him. He wants me to tell people to be violent. He wants violence. That’s why they put some of us at the crime-scene of their fires. But I will not give him that satisfaction. I have always held that violence in the society is determined by the government. It is the government that has the monopoly on violence. It is the government which has the capacity to promote violence. All the people can do is defend themselves against that violence with methods of self-defense. The people will know when they reach the point—the point where, as Brother Bob Marley says, “no bullet can stop us now.” That is not for me or any opposition leader to decide.