Crime, Politics and the Media
Guyana Chronicle
June 10, 2003

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There is this tale about some politicians and media personalities preaching racism and revering criminals. For them, working up the emotions of fickle-minded admirers is a certainty for staying in the limelight.

What do these politicians and these media practitioners have in common?

As they worry and puzzle over the meaning of life, the contention is that they have lost their bearings and have settled into patterns of boredom and resentment - those that limit their capacity for rational thought. So, dispirited, sour and cynical, they strike out in the public domain, hoping to immobilize the people they resent.

We’ve seen that happening so often since December 1997. Even today, with the joint services operations freeing Buxtonians of the criminal elements that had made their community a haven for 15 months, some politicians and their moles in the media propagandize the security initiatives as a deliberate plan to “kill off” and not apprehend wanted men and crime suspects.

The public expression of support by the PNC/R for the operations in Buxton represented a welcome departure from what had long been described as the demonizing of the country’s law enforcement agencies, but more especially the police force.

Still, the criticism of the manner in which the police have had to confront the criminals, who at the start of the operations killed lance corporal Shemton Dodson in their defiant bid to put law enforcement on the defensive, momentarily gave the bandits an unfair advantage over the police - or so some hoped.

We understand that the President and the Leader of the Opposition are meeting again today to continue the admirable process of dialoging that they began some weeks ago.

If what we’ve heard is true, then the opportunity exists for the two leaders to reach consensus that much sooner on how to address the issue of crime fighting by the police.

We’re not saying that the two leaders have to agree on everything. It’s their responsibility to help install a culture of democracy among our citizens. And accomplishing that requires agreement more than disagreement. But it would be naïve for people with contradictory ideas not to be given the space to express their opinions in order to get closer to what we call the truth.

Hopefully, President Jagdeo and Mr. Corbin will instill a new sense of vigor in discussion, decision-making and collaborative implementation, and so mentor an otherwise insensitive corps of followers - politicians and media operatives no less - who seem to have run out of steam in mid-career.

Even a compassionate assessment of the reasons for their behaviour cannot detract from the belief that the successes of the PPP/C alliance have inflicted a major wound on their confidence or self-esteem.

Until the last two weeks or so, it was the irony of our times that the people who emphasized the inability of the police to combat crime were the very people who supported criminals and then blamed the police for the decay in our society resulting from crime and lawlessness.

Those who seem to wallow in criminality ought to realize that violent crimes have so shaken the foundations of our society since 1997 that police intelligence reports once concluded that there’s “a clear pattern of criminal activities designed to create a climate of instability in the country.”

We ask again: Is this what some of our politicians, talk show hosts and print journalists want and are prepared to use the media to fester? To see honest, ambitious, hardworking Guyanese robbed and killed for what they sacrificed to achieve for the benefit and enjoyment of their children and grandchildren? Or doesn’t it matter because they have not personally experienced the brutality and trauma of violent criminal attacks?

As leaders and agents of social change, politicians and media practitioners are expected to forge racial unity, teach or encourage young people to be caring, principled, responsible, cooperative and disciplined, and to discourage them from resorting to a life of crime, violence, drug abuse and racial hatred.

Not the opposite.

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