Naipaul is anti-Carribbean

Stabroek News
December 28, 2001

Dear Editor,

The Naipaul debate has shown how unlearning a society this is. What have we learnt about race relations since the 2001 March elections?

Ms Ryhaan Shah says my criticism of Naipaul derives from my desire to appear non-racial. Then she accuses me in another letter of inverse racism, then goes on to the point of disgust about the need of Indians to know and take their rightful place. This lady sounds like the Indian version of the Channel 9 preachers of race hate

This lady is using the Naipaul debate to preach her own version of Indian assertiveness. From her letters in the press, it is clear she is not familiar with the fundamentals in the writings of Naipaul. She is a dilettante when it comes to the study of Naipaul. Imagine her temerity to refer to others as racist in her defense of all people, V.S. Naipaul. No other living writer has chalked up more racist statements in his repertoire than Naipaul the past half century.

In the midst of her racist outpourings, Ms. Shah is invited to be part of a panel on Naipaul by the Cheddi Jagan Research Library. One suspects Mrs. Jagan may be the person behind this invitation. Two weeks ago she wrote a condemnatory letter in the Mirror newspaper using castigating and caustic words about those who have rejected both Naipaul and his work. Her son Joey Jagan also took a swipe at me. But ask Mrs. Jagan and Joey how much of Naipaul they have read. Mrs. Jagan is one of the persons of influence on the board of the library. Those who believe that the library should have been made into a research centre for the papers of past presidents should review the issue against the background of the Shah invitation. The Cheddi Jagan Research Institute should strive for academic independence and intellectual objectivity.

Where are the Indian voices that have disassociated themselves from the insane inanities of V.S. Naipaul? V. S. Naipaul is anti-Trinidad, anti-Caribbean, anti-third world, anti-Islam, and bluntly racist. Oh, but you will hear these Indian voices if and when Afro-Guyanese decide to deify Burnham, or Reid or Green. There is an eerie silence among the Guyanese African middle class in this free-flowing, lengthy Naipaul debate. One suspects that this class is looking on at all that is being said by Guyanese Indians on this very questionable East Indian "achiever."

The letter-writing exercise on Naipaul since he won the Nobel Prize has been going non-stop in the Stabroek News. But none of the Naipaul afficionados can point to anything admiring, positive or pleasant Naipaul has said about the Indian ethnic group in the Caribbean. It is for this reason that Shah is exposed as a dilettante. She goes on and on about Naipaul as an example of Indian resilience but cannot point even to a single line of appreciation by Naipaul of this racial group. David Dabydeen in what can only be described as mysteriously or perhaps weirdly said at the discussion at the Jagan Research library that the Indian in the West Indies "was conceived having a cutlass in his hand rather than a pen but one of the achievements of Naipaul was in breaking out of that stereotype." Why Dabydeen would choose to use Naipaul as an example of this type of accomplishment is incomprehensible. West Indian history is replete with examples of Indians who exchanged the cutlass for the pen. In the process they have helped to liberate Guyanese, Caribbean people and have made a name for themselves in the world for their contribution to freedom and humanity. Naipaul is certainly not in this category.

In your report on the panel discussion on Naipaul in Sunday Stabroek, December 16, the final line said that the audience was seduced. Would it not be true to say that the appreciative audience was 99% Indian Guyanese?

Yours faithfully,

Frederick Kissoon