Our Readers' Opinions
June 3, 2016
Are we moving in the right direction?

Editor: Many years ago when I first read Ruth Benedict’s “Patterns of Culture”, I concluded that there are no superior or inferior cultures, only different circumstances within which cultures evolve, and all are equally viable and valid within their own context. But I omitted political considerations, as Ms Benedict did. Politics can change and alter the fabric of a society, repressing beneficial, benevolent aspects and promulgating malevolent, negative attitudes. {{more}}Hitler’s Germany, Chile under Pinochet, Spain under Franco, East Germany under the Soviets, Argentina at a certain stage of its history, (the USA under Trump?) and many others, distorted and malformed their country’s culture into something demonic, the antithesis of what its national culture had been.

Not just an absence of the encouragement of fine art, of controversy, of challenging literature, of progressive thinking, or of a stimulating atmosphere, but the institutionalization of the repression of these very activities, either actively by enforcement, or passively by implied discouragement: “we may not lock you up, but it would be better if you do not move in that direction,,,or we might ‘detain you’, so watch it!”

We in St Vincent and the Grenadines seem to be facing this kind of cultural shift. Songs with lyrics pointed this way will be encouraged; songs with a slant that way will be heard less, or not all. Vituperative invectives aimed at the Prime Minister result in crippling lawsuits, but the same language directed at his opponents are forgiven as “figures of speech, not to be taken literally.” Persons discharging firearms in public who are members of the ruling party are ignored or excused, while others who are members of the Opposition are arrested and their firearms confiscated for simply having a licensed weapon on their person.

Forget active support for classical music performances or composition (European dead-white man’s music), or adventurous drama creations that are not in the framework of “Caribbean Civilization”, or literature that criticizes or is skeptical of the politics of the Bishop/Grenada, Maduro/Venezuela persuasion.

Henry Mencken called the American South of his day the “Sahara Of The Bozarts” (intentionally misspelled) because there was no “there” there. Encouragement of artistic development or of the expression of controversial or critical political opinions may not have been applauded in that culture, but they were not discouraged or suppressed by governmental pressure or influence. Not so here. Look out, and “Get Back”!