Monday, January 25, 2016

The hard reality of facts

The late American Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”

 It is a quote that Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves has rightly used regularly in recent weeks.

The propaganda machine of the ruling Unity Labour Party has been in full overdrive – and the likes of Jomo Thomas has gotten his proverbial panties wet with anger – throwing up a set of smokes and mirrors, about the happenings of the last week or so. (I must confess though that I do not have a history of having a lot of patience with failed politicians that want to lecture me).

 In addition to being a reporter – I write a lot of commentaries – and they are meant to be just that – my opinion on events. 

I also, unapologetically, have a world view – which, if I must say this myself -- is more consistent than that of a lot of convenient “progressives” around the region.

 Interestingly though, in this entire St Vincent election cycle (until the last few days) – I did not write any commentaries. I made no declarations like I did in such places as Dominica or St Kitts and Nevis or Grenada.

 So I was not sure what the likes of Jomo and so were fuming about – as if they believed that their huffing and puffing will intimidate me. (Children of the Grenada Revolution don’t cower).

 Sure, facts are stubborn things – and sometimes they get in the way of the line we would like to push. But facts are facts. Only reality owns facts.

 In fact most of our reporting from St Vincent has not even been written text, but 90 percent video – most of them raw and unedited.

 They have accused us of many things – but at least they have not accused us of doctoring those videos.

We were there for the election announcement – and we posted that; we were there for rallies and we posted that. We were there for the protests outside of the Governor General’s house and we posted that. We were there for the swearing in of the Prime Minister and we posted that. We were there for the cabinet's swearing in and we posted that – and for all the subsequent arguments back and forth.

All those were reported and posted without comment.

I am yet to hear an argument that in that process we doctored anything.

So the argument of Jomo, Cecil Ryan, Marlon Stephenson and the likes is to try to figure the motive of Hamlet Mark; and exactly what he is doing in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

 Well, they don’t only have a hard time in dealing with facts; but in facing truth. They are peddling a line – and they were not there – that I was disobeying police orders. Interestingly, not even the police themselves are claiming that they gave me any orders.

So let’s for example accept all their innuendos and accusations – and let’s accept that I am the devil reincarnate. How does that change the hard facts of what’s happening in St Vincent and the Grenadines again?

    You see – facts are stubborn things.

     Here are the facts of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

 There was a general election on December 9 that as declared 8-7 for the ULP. The opposition has refused to accept the results, and has challenged two of the seats in court. Since then there has been daily protests, all relatively small, outside of the officer of the Supervisor of Elections.

It escalated last week, when the police moved in and arrested eight demonstrators, including a 70 year old great grandmother.

  The next day hundreds came out in the streets and protested that development. It was on that day that I was detained on “suspicion of obstruction.” (The day after we posted a video with police – well – actually harassing the people they had sworn to ‘protect and to serve’).

Now since we have seen these obscene reactions to those facts, they have been baiting me for my opinion: so here is it.

On Wednesday, the police over-reacted and abused their power; and if they don’t back off on that course, they would light a dangerous fuse and bring this proud nation to a place that only the poor people will suffer.

What we have seen in recent times is a classic case of government over-reach that indicates panic somewhere. But these supposedly bright men should be well versed in the lessons of history.

 (And as it relates to me specifically, there was a government in Grenada who put a whole political machinery together to try to discredit me. Well here is another fact of history: they are not there anymore).

 If all the things Jomo and Cecil accused me off are true – there are still not crimes in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The last time I checked this was not Zimbabwe – and I hope no one in Kingstown has aspirations to go down that road.

One thing the Comrade and I have in common is that we are from the school of Maurice Bishop.

But at this time in our latter lives, I don’t know which one of us needs to be struck down on the road to Damascus.

Michael Manley, among the greatest of Caribbean progressive leaders of the last 50 years or so, once said: “Move forward on your feet, not on your knees.”

 All I can state here is that I am still a real revolutionary, and a rebel to the core – still a socialist activist not a survivalist politician propping up a system of inequality and victimization.

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