Don't expunge Garvey's criminal record
THE EDITOR, Sir:
A move is afoot (as I understand it) to have the criminal records of Marcus Garvey and our other national heroes expunged. I do not agree with this move, since to change history will also change their status and the criteria for selecting them in the first place as National Heroes. These persons were recognised because they were willing to sacrifice their status in society, their material possessions and family to serve the benefit of the broader society that was subjected to unjust laws by an oppressive system. To me, this is akin to changing the Bible story of Jesus and rewriting the unjust suffering he experienced.
The young need to recognise that they need to stand up for the rights of their fellow men if it means going against unjust laws even though they will be persecuted by the Institution. Our people have become too laid back in defending the correct things. We need to have more national pride in sacrificing for our country and its people, even when our politicians seek to divide us along lines that will benefit only a few.
Some may say that the criminal records imply that we condone crime and violence. not so. My understanding of history is that it was the oppressors who instigated the violence, and our heroes merely responded in defence of their people. Violence is sometimes necessary to bring about change for a good reason, but it should never be used against each other for personal gain or retribution, as is the current violence in Jamaica today.
Our national heroes were willing to sacrifice themselves in order to mobilise the masses irrespective of the consequences, even unto death, and this should empower the young to serve others honestly and justly for the betterment of our country and society as a united whole.
It is not surprising that our young are now calling for current popular persons to be named national heroes because they excel at what they do best and did not waste their talent. This is not to belittle the achievements of our athletes or artistes such as Bob Marley. They are duly recognised by national honours, and in some cases by the awards of university honorary degrees. The questions arise however - are they prepared if necessary to sacrifice their lives and achievements for the benefit of their fellow men? Are they willing to go against an unjust status quo and not just become a part of the system that exists with all its accolades? Are they willing to use their status to serve only the few or to fight outside the rules of that system if it suppresses the rights of the majority?
These are the qualities of our national heroes whom we have come to respect, and by expunging their records, we are taking away from our history and the sacrifices that they made.
You may rewrite the context of the history in textbooks, but please do not remove history and deprive our people of our rightful heritage and national pride.