Our Readers' Opinions
January 21, 2014

Politics, personal agendas and propaganda at its worst

Editor: The unfortunate and deadly Christmas season floods that affected some of the Windward Islands have brought out the best, but unfortunately the worst in our Vincentian people. I must start by congratulating the spirit and resilience of our people and the community spiritedness that was so evident and continues to be present as we move into the phases of rebuilding and restoration of peoples lives and ultimately our beloved nation. Unfortunately, in the midst of this togetherness there remain those who, by political calculation, perceived that any prolonged atmosphere of camaraderie in our nation might have negative consequences to their limited and hidden agendas.{{more}}

I would not venture to discuss the ridiculous statement of MP Daniel Cummings, categorically proclaiming that someone caused the disaster and the resulting destruction, since that would only give credence to just another example of the lowest level of political bigotry exposed by a desperate political organisation. Instead I would focus on some incidents that occurred that in my view were used to create hysteria and deepen the political divide at a time when unity and togetherness are desirable.

I must commend all those who posted in a very timely manner, photos and videos that helped to keep myself and many others like me living in the diaspora up to date with what was happening in our blessed country. It didn’t take long, however, before genuine efforts were replaced by ulterior motives that shifted the coverage of the damage and the recovery process into a dimension that focused the discussion on those who were providing coverage and cast a shadow over the credibility of information being disseminated. It was interesting that a journalist could have published and promoted the concept of opposition in the time of disaster, maybe in an effort to promote their favourite political party. Where was the journalistic integrity that should have questioned the appropriateness of the party symbols and the denouncing of such political divisive actions in the time of disaster relief?
What drives a headline “Opposition distributes supplies?” Is there opposition in such a time, if so, opposition to what or whom? This introduction of clear partisan politics went unchallenged by “probing journalists” who covered it, but thought it instead more instructive to find out, who was at NEMO on Christmas Eve night when Vincentians would traditionally be at home preparing for Christmas Day. It amazes me further when persons with video cameras post information in the media, again suggesting politics and favouritism and claiming that there has been an overstating of the situation by the government. Did it occur to anyone that the statement “labour water” may have been a direct response, a reaction to the fact that the NDP distributed water in party symbols, clearly suggesting that their concern was for their own supporters, in essence “NDP water”? How do you introduce politics in the situation, give it coverage, promote it, and then at the end complain about the divisiveness of Vincentian politics? It is not rocket science; if you introduce elements of a partisan political nature, you are bound to get a slew of politically charged comments that would invariably descend to the depths that would distract from the relief effort.

Finally there were those who sought to embellish their image during the period with the hope of cashing in on the improved image at some point, whenever the elections are called. Congrats to those who selflessly acted without concern for themselves to bring relief in whatever small way to those suffering. Those in the diaspora who mobilised, without invitation, to ensure that persons affected by the disaster in their homeland of St Vincent and the Grenadines had supplies available almost immediately.
They were far less concerned with ensuring that the camera lenses were constantly pointed in their direction, capturing every bottle of water they gave or every hand they shook, to be plastered on Facebook and other media subsequently. I could not believe that in such time of distress and pain, persons could be callous to milk the suffering of our people for their own selfish reasons. What was obvious was persons’ inability or unwillingness to bridle their enthusiasm at the thought of gaining mileage of any sort at a most difficult time. The disaster seemed to have awakened every previously dormant political aspiration, every journalistic ambition and every not so subtle quest for social relevance embraced by some, possessive of the type of blatant opportunism that drives their every action. I believe we would rise from this disaster stronger than ever and all those who thought their actions went unnoticed would feel the backlash of a people’s unequivocal rejection of opportunism and political tribalism.

Sehon Marshall