Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Brian-Paul Welsh | Demigods and demagogues

Published:Tuesday | February 21, 2017 | 2:00 AM

In a recent radio interview, reggae singer Chezidek gnashed at the police for raiding his rural farm and destroying an array of vegetables, including his holy herb.

As his rage bubbled over the airwaves, he depicted a chaotic scene somewhere deep in the country's interior, where a squad of Jamaica's finest, clad in full tactical gear, swooped down on the Rastaman's garden, hacking and slashing, with furious intent to obliterate all vegetable matter, possibly resembling ganja.

This horticultural assortment was also said to include the singer's organic broccoli. Undifferentiated from the other plants, it suffered a similarly swift and brutal demise. They didn't even leave the trees!

The singer insists that the operation was motivated by spite, a ruse to humiliate Rastafari by desecrating his temple. For him, the plants being nurtured for nine months were of a mystical and sacramental nature, a quality recently inscribed into the Jamaican jurisprudence as something unique to this indigenous faith. His was a genuine soul-stirring lament at the wickedness of Babylon and the guise of law enforcement in perpetuating a system of unnecessary suffering on the people of this land.

The singer was indeed brave to buck the system, especially knowing its penchant for bucking back. The last time a lowly entertainer had the audacity to confront the ravenous dogs, he was chewed up like Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Chezidek's pain and indignation were palpable, and in carefully choosing the words to describe his horrific experience, he concluded by simply saying, "They destroyed me."

Such haunting wails permeate the nightly news hour where mothers routinely bemoan the discarding of their sons like carrion, so it was interesting to observe the parallels between these similar wanton acts of destruction, the impugning of the official story, and the seeming impunity of the police. Some still view such episodes as damage for the greater good, a small price to pay to prosper in this state of insecurity, until one day, they look through their window with the panoramic view and are shocked to see the long arm of the law pointing back at them.

We vest our power in the justice system, reinforcing it to reach where we feel it must. The problem has always been that for some, its operation serves to shackle; for others, it protects their narrow interests; while for a few, it reassures their privilege into perpetuity. Ordinary men become demigods with the anointing of the law lords, and in the zealous execution of their duties, the peasants often cry at being crushed by the heavy boots and strong arms of these righteous soldiers.

 

DAVID AND GOLIATH

 

In the days of yore when the offspring of the 'sons of God' and the 'daughters of men' known as Nephilim harassed the villagers with their brawn, David faced one named Goliath and quickly disposed of him with the humblest of tools. His victory in this powerful allegory rang through the annals of history to show what happens when the little man's cup gets full.

Another member of the idle intelligentsia that prattles along with me in these pages recently labelled our beloved commander-in-chief a demagogue. This highfalutin term has aptly described virtually every Jamaican political leader since the inception of our universal suffrage and is now being applied to the charming prince.

Comfortably presiding from his castle in the sky, some are now saying that he and the members of his royal court sip bubbly and labrish on social media, gallivanting, while the rest of us ponder the imminent realisation of our own mortality.

Unimpressed by his eloquence and impatient with the seemingly empty promises of prosperity, an audacious few are beginning to publicly question the integrity of his prime ministerial cloak. Incidentally, the affable King of the North is at this very moment facing similar cynicism from those who obviously don't know a well-oiled machine when they see one!

It may well be the nature of those in the political class to make these grandiose statements knowing that they are unsupported by fact or practicality. They probably can't help themselves.

These utterings serve the interest of popularity, getting liked by fickle supporters, but dissipate like mere puffs upon serious examination.

It's probably too early to describe our prodigious prince in such unflattering terms, though by the looks of things, he might have ample time to hone his skills at skullduggery.

- Brian-Paul Welsh is a writer and public affairs commentator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and brianpaul.welsh@gmail.com or tweet @islandcynic.