Wed | Sep 20, 2017

JaRistotle’s Jottings | From criminality to terrorism

Published:Thursday | June 8, 2017 | 6:00 AM

The increasing incidence of acts of terror across Europe, hate crimes across the United States, and the growing outspokenness of extremist groups all say one thing to me: be afraid. Be very afraid!

And why should I be afraid. Not because I may go overseas and end up being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but because here in Jamaica we don't seem to be taking these issues seriously enough. I get the sense our political leaders have adopted the ostrich approach - bury their heads in the sand and hope for the best; that is, "what you don't see, won't hurt you".

International terrorism is a major threat to Jamaica. With the ready availability of weapons in Jamaica, terrorists would not have to go far to get their tools, more so with the high level of corruption and the 'everything for a price' attitude of so many.

We must also be concerned about the cultivation of home-grown terrorists. We are not far from it now. Not because we don't have lunatics running around committing horrific crimes in the name of some obscure cause does not mean that we may not be tipped for a rude awakening. We have had lunatics running around committing mayhem in the name of politics, party and blood money for eons.

Consider the making of a terrorist. For many it is an escape from squalid living conditions, alienation and hopelessness. It is a protest against perceived abandonment by the political leadership; against perceived oppression. The influence of extremist websites oftentimes adds to their resolve.

 

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE

 

They fight the only way they can - through violence. They vent their anger on other people to get to the 'oppressors', without consideration for the innocents. "Ca'an ketch quako, yuh ketch him shut".

Let us look at what's going on in our backyard. Squatter communities abound, with thousands of people living in squalor. There are severe shortages of social amenities, which politicians dangle as rewards for votes. Many don't have the dignity of access to work, especially if their community is not aligned to the ruling political party.

These people don't have the protection of the State and are only too familiar with the police when they come a-raiding, a-beating and a-killing. In the vacuum, they improvise. Gangs provide a [false] sense of belonging and protection. Crime is their pushback, a means to survival. And we wonder why we have an out-of-control crime rate, which successive governments have been unable to control.

But we can't blame the police alone for this abominable situation. Politicians, after all, are the ones who have consistently added fuel to this fire with their partisan and discriminatory practices. Given the circumstances, it is only a matter of time before these criminals morph into something more ominous.

I have amended the words of Bob Marley's powerful song War to reflect the reality of this national disgrace. Think on them, and reflect on the thin balance between the heartless criminality we are now experiencing and where it could tip to terrorism. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Until the philosophy which holds one group superior

And another

Inferior

Is finally

And permanently

Discredited

And abandoned

Everywhere is war

Me say war.

That until there's no longer

First class and second class citizens in Jamaica

Until the colour of a man's vote

Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes

Me say war.

That until the basic human rights

Are equally guaranteed to all,

Without regard to political choice

This is a war.

That until that day

The dream of lasting peace,

Equal citizenship

Rule of national morality

Will remain but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,

But never attained

Now everywhere is war - war.

And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes

That hold our people in fear, as hostages

Injustice

Sub-human political bondage

Have been toppled,

Utterly destroyed,

Well, everywhere is war

Me say war.

War in the east,

War in the west,

War up north,

War down south

War - war

Rumours of war.

And until that day,

The Jamaican people

Will not know peace,

We Jamaicans will fight - we find it necessary

And we know we shall win

As we are confident

In the victory.

Of good over evil

Good over evil, yeah!

Good over evil.