How can this be defended? To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
February 6, 2002

I WISH to support everything that was so feelingly expressed by Mr. Gokarran Sukdeo on 23/01/2002 over the derogatory racial nickname used in the “Christmas Annual.” I am dismayed that Mr. Haslyn Parris and Dr. Ian McDonald should display such insensitivity for a cheap laugh. I am doubly dismayed at Mr. Ruel Johnson’s defence on them and himself for using the slur. We have lost another generation to our low race war.

I have further uneasiness over Mr. Miles Fitzpatrick’s defence of the crass racial remarks McDonald makes in his book (Stabroek News 23/01/2002). My uneasiness arises from Stabroek News’ recent editorial stand on Naipaul’s Nobel Prize, which emboldened a host of critics to charge that Naipaul is a racist among other things. These critics found support in two blistering Stabroek News editorials. The first one, “Sir Vidia’s Shadow,” published on October 25, 2001, quoted from Caryl Phillips who stated that Naipaul has made “the most outlandish, racist, unscholarly and inaccurate statements in books and interviews…” Stabroek News editor added after this quote that Naipaul’s “literary fame has allowed him to get away with a great deal of shameful nonsense” thereby endorsing Phillips’ charge, which included racism.

The protagonist in McDonald’s book bluntly expresses revulsion for whole races of people but Fitzpatrick dismisses this as the mere musings of a fictional character. Stabroek News never considered this defence as a possibility in Naipaul’s case (putting aside whether the charge of racism against Naipual has merit) and therein lies my uneasiness. Fitzpatrick points out that there are rules of engagement in these matters and the learned SC must realise that Stabroek News has set a precedent on the criteria used for determining who is racist. The rules of engagement must be applied fairly and evenhandedly. It would be very sad indeed if it were discovered that the rules are applied by Stabroek news in a racially discriminatory manner, that the criteria used to determine racism if you are an Indian differ from the criteria used for others.

McDonald holds positions on a number of boards and committees, and is a Stabroek news columnist. His racist remarks cannot be dismissed lightly as “musings.” His extolling of racial slurs and his own written remarks cast certain doubts and I expect Stabroek News to take this matter seriously. In Stabroek News’s editorial “Words that wound” on 26/01/2002, no mention is made of McDonald’s racist statements. These are as deeply wounding as the racial slur, and to both Indians and blacks.

Johnson seems to be a very strange young man who knows little about everything and even less about language and its contextual usage. He is being given responsibilities that are way above his reach. He should note that racists are also courageous and honest.

How can any bit of all this racism be defended?
Daniel F. Kissoon