We must protect ourselves against the dangers of mad cow disease and foot and mouth

Consumer Concerns By Eileen Cox
Stabroek News
April 15, 2001

Deja vu, all over again, as the baseballer said. Almost forty years ago, I was pinned down by whizzing bullets in Robb Street, some of them hitting their mark. One policeman McLeod fell, I seem to recall. The Black Watch jackboots from hell eventually rescued us from the smoke and the acrid fumes. It was all an adventure.

Youth diluted fear. Non-knowledge of politics precluded genuine understanding of what was playing out. However, the genuine sense of fairness even then made me realise that there was a greater objective to all the mayhem.

Today, thirty-nine years later, the objective has remained, even though some of the actors might have changed. In fact, some of the players in the drama four decades ago are still around and are still having influence. In the end, what we are witnessing may be an attempted Fijiisation of Guyana. The process seems to have two pincers with the same purpose: what is perceived to be an Indian party must not govern; in fact, it must be removed from governance.

The first pincer thrust is that which you see playing out right now: show them that we can take the streets and the Civil Service at will. Show them that we can openly procure gasolene, build mounds, light them afire and then strut pompously around without fear of arrest. Show them that we can light up the city and advocate assassination. Show them that we can dictate whether "Common Entrance" can be held or not. Show them that we can protect those Indians who join us, for the PPP can't protect those who don't. Show them that we can march when we want and how we want and that we can prostrate ourselves where we want .... and they can't do a damn thing about it. The moral of this story is simple: If you don't have the strength and real power to rule, then you should make way for those who can. End position: PNC takes power, and shows us how its done. No more protests, no more burnings, lootings, highway robbing and coconut trees across the roads.

The second part of the pincer movement is even more interesting, tactically. Beat their supporters into the ground and out of the country. Let 30 or 40 thousand Indians put their collective tails in their collective dhotis and emigrate. And, hey, presto! The political arithmetic is now the way, we want it. The numbers say we can't lose now- and we'll never lose again.

And we'll allow them - those who want to remain, that is - to be tenants in our house. We may or may not charge them serious rent. That it is our house, there can be no dispute. We were here and have contributed with blood and sweat to this country for 400 years, and they only 160. Don't confuse me with arguments about Amerindians - they were and are too weak to speak. And I don't want to hear of any dotishness about quality and quantity of contribution during those 160 years - only time (as in 400 years) is of essence in my argument.

And while all this is playing out decent Guyanese are hanging their heads in bitter shame, their vacuous eyes displaying bewilderment and uncertainty, sometimes tears. I say decent Guyanese. There are those however (not the visible, on-the-barricades hoodlums and arsonists) who argue about the rightness of despicable actions, with arguments that have race and ethnicity as the base. One premier citizen was so perplexed and disappointed by the indefensible position taken by some of his life-long friends that he has doubts whether he could invite them into

his home ever again. I too now have that problem. When all of this is over, if ever it can be over, many of us probably will evolve into the most reclusive, antisocial beings, living our lives out in a self-contained cocoon, devoid of extra-familial friendship. Or perhaps not.

One of the great tragedies emanating from the current debacle is that the shame produced will live with us for a while. The conversations among Afros will become muted when an Indo approaches and vice versa, even if the talk was about the movies. Invitations to dine in each other's homes will cease. I have seen this national shame in action in post-war Germany. Salman Rushdie said that if you live with shame long enough it becomes part of the furniture. Well, as we arise from the ashes, the best remedy for shame is the practice of benevolence. Now, more than ever, is the time to reach out. We the masses must do what the leaders cannot. Embrace your "other race" brother, not because it is somehow decent, but because you know that you do not hate this man. You played, you worked, you ate, you drank together. His mother taught you and your father gave him advice. How can you begin to even dislike this man?

Of course, I am speaking to the honourable majority. There are the minority evil others who are shameful and shameless (interesting that these words define the same concept and conduct). This nation must not only regain its sanity and the intrinsic love that people have for each other, but we must actively pursue the wicked men and women and hound them out of our society. We know the symptoms of their perniciousness very well now. Our antennas will quiver as soon as we see or hear the wretches, even if they only try to slither in with innuendo. We must stomp on them, tar and feather them, drive them from our beloved Guyana.

We must learn from these errors. One of Guyana's most experienced analysts of Third World social upheavals, who has been in dozens of similar hot spots over the last decade, has related that in all cases demagogic pronouncements by delusionary psychotics have preceded violence, murder and wide ranging social destablisation- I just wish that Mr Jagdeo had heeded his advice some time ago. Alas, youth has its deficiencies - the main one being experience. But he would have learned a lifetime's lesson from the previous

three weeks. One of them hopefully is that one cannot take advice from those who are bitter and hate-filled. In fact, this latter group is easily discernible. Their physiognomy betrays them even before you hear their words. Cast these aside. Of course, if one is already indelibly tainted and even weak of character, then I am preaching to the irreparably and irreversibly damaged. Consequently, my words are useless.

Finally, stop all this praying. God gone to sleep. Happy Easter?