'Condemn' or 'con dem'?
June 1, 2002
Letters on governance
The PPP has issued a press statement to "condemn" the murder of a policeman, Sherwin Alleyne (SN, 30.5.02). This, of course, follows the numerous other press releases that it has issued to condemn the murders of another policeman, a prison officer, a business couple, a police superintendent, numerous robberies, shootings, car-jackings, kidnappings and general mayhem. They have also taken much time and effort, not to mention state resources, to condemn those who did not condemn (or whom the PPP thought did not condemn) loud enough, fast enough or not at all. With what is going on (or going down) in Guyana today, I'm sure the PPP has set up a 'condemn' department. Probably next to their letter-writing department.
After all it must have taken some organizing effort to hold the various marches across the country to condemn the bandits. At least that's what I think they were supposed to condemn. On Independence Day I was lying down contemplating all the benefits that Independence had brought us. That took all of two seconds so I may have dozed off since the One Day Cricket Matches had been washed out in Jamaica - now that's something to condemn! I was rudely jolted by the PPP's sound-truck exhorting all and sundry on West Demerara to come out the following day to march with the PPP to condemn all the banditry and what not. They took time-out to condemn those who "talk the talk but refuse to come out of their homes to walk the walk." My wife cracked up at this and pointed out something that explained everything the PPP had been doing recently to confront the domestic terrorists, and over the past ten years to deal with all the other outrages against primarily their own supporters.
The PPP was not really condemning anything: we were not giving them enough credit. Being a highly mature political machine with fifty years of rigorous training behind it (is it ready yet?) the PPP was using esoteric language to send a coded message to its trained operatives in the field. These were men who had spent years receiving the most sophisticated training in places like Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia - you just didn't send messages openly, the CIA was always listening. And didn't Burnham, in his days, send coded messages to inspire his supporters? - 'Who dug the gold? Who has the gold? Who must take the gold?' And isn't the PPP's motto now, 'Whatever Forbes did, we can do it better?' Anyhow, back to my wife's revelation: "condemn," she informed me, had to be a code for the PPP operatives to "con dem" i.e. to con the PPP supporters into believing that "to walk the walk" meant just walking up and down a road, preferably under a blazing sun, shouting slogans (this was the "talk the talk" bit).
Wow! Eureka! Epiphany! I can see clearly now, the rain is gone! The whole mystery was solved. Over the past year I had been wondering as to why the PPP parliamentarians were suddenly given to using Black American slang - "talk the talk and walk the walk." (This will indicate to you as to how challenging Parliament has been - you end up wondering about all sorts of things.) It was when, during the last session, Mrs Indra Chandrapal used the phrase that I stood up and took notice. Mrs Chandrapal may be many things (even a revolutionary - I heard her recently on an Indian Immigration programme calling on Indians to defend themselves by any means necessary - but 'hip' she's not. There must be something afoot, I figured. Wednesday in Parliament, Dr Leslie Ramsammy dispelled any doubts that I may have had about my wife's theory: Leslie used the magic words "walk the walk and talk the talk"! Now I know Leslie very well.
Leslie has a plan - you can't fight the PPP from the outside. He would enter the PPP and take over the PPP from the inside - his charisma of competence outshining all those dim lights and all. So Leslie would do everything to be seen as a true-blue PPP - thus the hip-hop "walk the walk and talk the talk." It has to be an 'in thing.'
So the code is broken - "condemn" is to 'con dem.' And this is what the PPP has been doing about the ethnic security dilemmas of all the people in Guyana. Even with tokens like Messrs Sam Hinds, Henry Jeffery and Odinga Lumumba, it has not been able to con African Guyanese, but it has certainly done a good job with their Indian supporters about their physical security dilemma. It's ten years the PPP has been in office and they have to march against crime. Dr Jagan did not participate in the constitutional discussions leading to Independence because he pointed out that with the composition of the disciplined forces, especially the police force left Indians very exposed to violence. And this Independence day, the PPP is telling its supporters that "to walk the walk" is to march and "condemn" their lack of protection. What a con!
In a letter to the Stabroek News, (30.5.02) the good doctor Ramsammy referred to a letter of mine wherein I pointed out the PPP's abdication of its constitutional, not to mention moral, responsibility to protect the security interests of the country and especially their supporters. The Minister wrote about everything under the sun but refused to address this burning (literally) issue. More of the 'con dem' - but I guess that's how one moves up (?) the PPP ladder. Mister Minister, of course the PPP fixed some roads and drains. But so could my Nanie if she could borrow US$750 million externally and G$50 billion internally, which is what the PPP has done. The question of how the PPP has spent that money is another story of another 'con dem.'
To paraphrase Abe Lincoln: you may con some of 'dem' all the time; you may con all of 'dem' some of the time, but you can't con all of 'dem' all of the time. Time longer than twine.
Ravi Dev, MP
Leader of ROAR