Play the tape for the American Embassy
FREDDIE ON FRIDAY
June 11, 2004
I came home late the night from a hard day’s work at the university. The next morning, I went to Kaieteur News and was greeted with laughs and jeers that permeated the entire building.
What was the joke about? Kaieteur News staffers told me that the owner of a television-station, who offers commentary on the newscast that his station broadcasts, classified me as the ugliest East Indian in the world. I didn’t care about what this guy said since no one ever takes him seriously. But two of Kaieteur’s journalists insisted that I listen to the tape because it was the most unusual attack they ever heard on a public figure.
We went on the net and to the web page of the Kaieteur News through which you can access the commentary of this station owner; his picture is imprinted on the Stabroek’s web page. We came upon the commentary and after reading the first three lines, I removed my presence from the computer. Indeed I was categorised as the ugliest East Indian in the world made uglier by the fact, according to the commentary of this guy, that I have African blood in me.
The stunningly brutal racist content of this commentary was so shocking that after I left Kaieteur News, and went to the Vlissengen Road KFC outlet, I encountered three persons who told me to sue for libel. For the next two weeks, people from all walks of life urged me to take the matter to the court. The same night, attorney-at-law, Anil Nandlall called my home to ask if I would like to proceed down the libel road. I declined but I thought that the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting; the Ethnic Relations Commission; the Guyana Human Rights Association; the major political parties; media houses; and African and Indian organisations would have moved to censure this man.
Here was a person of European ethnicity openly broadcasting on his television station that he doesn’t like me because the East Indian race is an ugly one; and I am the ugliest of them all because my Indian blood is tainted with African genes and that is what made me ugly. What I couldn’t understand was why the Stabroek News did not remove that particular commentary from its web page content.
Should we not replay this tape so the western embassies in Georgetown can listen to it?
The US Embassy in Guyana is now moving to do what it should have down since the 1997 election; revoke the non-immigrant visa of Guyanese whose conduct is a violation of fundamental principles on which civilised behaviour rests. Should the US Embassy allow persons in this country to travel to the US who preach open genocide; who advocate racial superiority; who incite ethnic hatred; who denigrate public citizens by derogating the colour of their skin; who urge their fellow citizens to use violence against others?
I remember in 2001 just after the national poll, a letter appeared in this newspaper advising the Government of Guyana to intervene with the Government of Trinidad to prevent Ronald Waddell from going to Trinidad to pursue studies in law because his inflammatory advocacy on Channel 9 was racist and violent. Another letter appeared (and maybe it was written by the same person) in the Kaieteur about two weeks after, urging the government to lodge a complaint against Waddell with the United Nations.
The visa revocation by the US Embassy of those that the Embassy finds to have engaged in matters of a serious nature which involved the violation of both American and international law is one of the most positive mechanisms introduced into this society since the sixties to engender legal and acceptable conduct here.
All citizens of this republic should welcome the US Embassy’s policy of visa cancellation for conduct the Embassy finds reprehensible in a moral and legal context. I would urge Ambassador Bullen and his staff to listen to that tape which denigrates my ethnicity by the owner of a certain television station. But abominable moral, political and racist intransigence is not confined to attacks on academics like myself; it goes far beyond that.
I have heard an election candidate for the PNC/Reform on Channel 9 days after the 2001 election, urging Indian citizens to seek safety at any PNC outlet because those who have voted for the PPP/C are likely to be assaulted. Here was a politician crudely urging violence against peaceful voters. These tapes should be submitted to the US Embassy. On a daily basis on Channel 9, there is racist demagoguery designed to excite fragile, incendiary minds and incite them to commit human atrocities.
I think the western embassies in Guyana need to look at one particular official in ACDA, the WPA and the People’s Movement for Justice (PMJ). He has openly sided with the criminal elements in Buxton and continues to use Channel 9 to refer to psychotic and pathological criminals as freedom fighters. The US Embassy should take particular note of this gentleman given the war of terror that is being used worldwide; and also against the background of the abduction in Buxton by the Mash Day escapees of the former security adviser of the US Embassy, Mr. Stephen Lesniak and his subsequent ransoming.
Looked at from any angle, the visa abrogation policy of the US Embassy now in force, is a positive development that can bring a significant measure of civilised political discourse to this country particularly after general elections. It is hoped the current approach by the US Embassy would be laid down as a long-term strategy with the embassy even after the present administration of the mission fulfill their term of duty and move on.
There are violent people in this country with US visas, who have their children and families in the United States; and they seek to foment mayhem and chaos in this land for narrow political purposes. Isn’t it fair to say that with the functioning of the visa cancellation policy, some people may be afraid to go on the airwaves and urge their followers to “burn, baby burn?” Isn’t it fair to assume that those with a racist and violent agenda may be afraid they lose their “sweet” American visa should they urge that their followers burn down Georgetown?
I want to say for the record, I am one citizen of this country that sees some good coming out of the position of the US Embassy to deny visas to citizens with questionable intentions. There is an old saying that is so apt, “do nothing, fear nothing.” Before I go, a question for you, “do you think I am all that bad looking because of my race?”