Gibson book serves no purpose in multicultural Guyana
-Dharmic Sabha
Stabroek News
May 12, 2004

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Dr Kean Gibson's book The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana is "a chronicle of racist condemnation of Guyanese Indians" and serves no purpose in multicultural Guyana," says Dr Madan Rambaran.

Dr Rambaran offered this view on Monday in sworn testimony on behalf of the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (GHDS) at the continuation of the inquiry by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) into the complaint by the Indian Arrival Committee that Gibson's book is "peddling and spreading racial hatred between Guyana's principal ethnic groups."

Dr Rambaran told the ERC Gibson's book seeks, essentially, to assert that Guyanese Indians have a programme to oppress, dispossess and annihilate Afro-Guyanese, and that this programme is informed by an ideology based in Hinduism and more particularly a construct of the Hindu caste system.

But Dr Rambaran argued that Indians in Guyana reconstituted themselves for the most part without the caste distinctions and barriers. He further said that the remnants of caste awareness among Guyanese Indians have not served to maintain barriers or to prevent full participation within the Hindu community.

"The erosion of caste consciousness among Hindus is so deep that most young Hindus would be unable to define themselves in any caste terms. Gibson, however, asserts without any empirical evidence that '...Hindus in Guyana state that they belong to either of the first two castes,'" Dr Rambaran declared.

He censured Gibson's attempt, as demonstrated in her book, to purport that Guyanese Indians equate the Guyanese Africans with what she describes as the lowest Hindu caste - the Shudra caste - as extreme and unrepresentative of any meaningful reality. "Dr Gibson constructs a composite of the so-called caste system with some selective quotes from the Vedas and from some obscure websites. This construct is quite extreme and unrepresentative of any meaningful reality."

He contended that Gibson has by her own account acknowledged that any colour association with caste has nothing to do with skin colour or race. In support of this contention, Dr Rambaran quoted from page 26 of Gibson's book: "The colour association with each caste was introduced to identify the moral value associated with each caste and thus used to determine the character of a person."

Dr Rambaran suggested that Gibson's book should have been ignored and allowed to die "unnoticed and unremarked in some dusty corner."

"[Gibson's] book does not serve any useful purpose in the advancement of Guyana as a multicultural, multi-religious country...but serves instead to fuel suspicion and race hate."

Gibson, Dr Rambaran continued, has ensnared herself in the dualist approach that she has used in her book to accuse Guyanese Indians of being responsible for ghastly intentions and crimes towards Guyanese Africans.

"Dr Gibson sets her vilification of Guyanese Indians in the context of the concept of dualism and then by an act of intellectual sleight of hand uses this very dualist approach to find Guyanese Indians guilty of the worst motives and crimes against African Guyanese while always quick to exonerate African Guyanese from any misdeeds. In other words the Guyanese Indian is evil and guilty and African Guyanese are good and innocent. She is obviously trapped in the very dualism she seeks to discredit."

Dr Rambaran contended that Gibson's book is a catalogue of some facts, several half-truths and a number of wild statements that cannot be corroborated. He likened her writings in the book to the techniques used by Hitler in putting together a case of Jewish conspiracy to dominate the world to justify the annihilation of Jews; and Milosevic's fabrication of a case of depredation against the Serbs by Muslims for his programme of 'ethnic cleansing' of Bosnian Muslims.

"[The] viciousness of Dr Gibson's dualism and racist hate reveals itself when she likens Guyanese Indians to Nazis. This is extreme, ridiculous and abhorrent. There is nothing about the behaviour of Guyanese Indians that can be remotely likened to the evil of the Nazi programme to exterminate the Jews."

It was suggested to the ERC by Dr Rambaran that a pattern of racially directed violence against Guyanese Indians has emerged in the Guyanese society in the form of anti-Indian violence and riots in the 1960s, the massacre at Wismar in 1964, the kick-down-the door banditry of the 1980s, the post-election violence of October 1992, December 1997, January 1998 and March 2001, the politically directed violence of June 1998, March and June 1999 and July 2002 and the recent banditry on the East Coast that has clearly targeted Guyanese Indians.

"Nowhere in the history of this country is there an example of Guyanese Indians going on a rampage attacking and beating, dispossessing, raping and killing Afro-Guyanese or any other ethnic group for that matter," Rambaran asserted.

"The shoddiness and dubiousness of [Gibson's] scholarship has been acknowledged and conceded by those who have sought to defend this book. [Gibson] consistently fails to offer even token reference to the countervailing positions."

In conclusion, the GHDS has recommended that the ERC find that Gibson's book is an offensive racist tract that promotes hatred of Guyanese Indians; could serve as a justification and incitement of racially directed violence against Guyanese Indians; is a selectively distorted view of Hinduism that distorts the religion especially as practised in Guyana. The ERC, according to Rambaran, should direct that the book be removed from all libraries and collections of all institutions funded by the state; bring its findings to the attention of the University of the West Indies where Dr. Gibson obtained her Ph.D. and international agencies involved with race relations and prevention of ethnic violence and crimes against humanity and submit its finding and the book to the appropriate legal agency with a view to ascertaining whether the author should be indicted for promoting race hate and incitement of racist violence.

The hearing continues tomorrow.