Letter of the day: Unwelcome distractions from reparation debate
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The matter of reparation has received more attention in Jamaica over the past few weeks than at any other time. It is a good sign. Last week, former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson wrote a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron expressing his views on the matter.
Some persons have objected to his intervention for a variety of reasons. The main one has to do with the financial meltdown in the 1990s and demanding that he give account for the events leading to that development.
That financial meltdown set this country back by two decades. But worse, the shenanigans that aborted that inquiry denied students of history, government, and economics the opportunity to do the necessary analyses that would prevent us from repeating this travesty. And there is only one word for that: EGREGIOUS.
But I find it extremely unfortunate that persons - some of whom should know better - would drag this red herring into the larger issue of reparations. This is an unwelcome distraction.
Britain is a wealthy industrial country today. The Beveridge Report of 1941 reveals some of the generous welfare programmes enjoyed by Britons today. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 who can prove they are actively seeking work is eligible for job seekers' allowance.
Then there is incapacity benefit, housing benefit, child tax credits, and excellent state pension, among other goodies. Any single mother in Britain can expect help from the State. All this largely because of the solid foundation that could be laid on the blood, sweat, and tears from the forced labour of our ancestors.
They now hold the well- padded handle of an extremely sharp knife. We, the decendants of those slaves, hold the blade in our bony, emaciated hands. The only condition under which they will give us a listening ear is if we speak - loud and long - with one voice. There must not be one dissenting voice.
Central to any strategy in presenting our case must be the understanding that slavery was abolished for one reason only: because it was no longer profitable. Sam Sharpe understood this.