Mon | Sep 16, 2019

Letter of the Day | Politicians mustn’t spew rhetoric of hatred, division

Published:Saturday | August 17, 2019 | 12:26 AM
Peter Champagnie

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The presidential campaign within the People’s National Party has ignited the taste buds of political pundits and others who believe that a strong and viable Opposition is essential to a healthy democracy.

Like many other types of campaigns, it seems not immune to what is now sadly, incendiary rhetoric by some of our younger and not-so-young set of politicians. Such rhetoric is often occasioned and punctuated by lyrical tunes that glorify violence and the gun culture. All of this comes within the context of a country where crime continues to be out of control and remains the number one concern for all law-abiding citizens.

Our political history, particularly from the early 1970s to 1980, has been marred with violence. Arguably, the spillovers from the ideological conflicts of the Cold War and the absence then of any indigenous watchdog institutions such as the Office of the Political Ombudsman, provided fertile grounds for political violence during that period.

Today, we do not have any such excuses to explain away political violence. Irresponsible and reckless comments that are capable of moving others to violence must stop. We must always be mindful of the fact that such comments travel fast and wide, especially when they are said by persons of prominence on a political platform. For example, there now exist many electronic social-media platforms through which things said and done in one instance can be disseminated and received by hundreds of persons within minutes.

Bigotry remarks by one individual directed at his or her own social class or race do not make it any more palatable than if they were made by another individual directed at others with whom he or she is not readily identifiable. Equally egregious is for one to declare that a geographical space within our beloved country is exclusively the domain of persons with like-minded political views.

We have come too far as a nation to be entertaining any retrograde behaviour. Therefore, as we see clearly the potential harm that can come from a ‘World Boss’ making reckless and divisive statements on the public stage, so, too, must we equally see the clear and present danger in some of our younger politicians spewing the rhetoric of hatred and division.

Maturity of thought and reasoning based on real issues affecting peaceful existence must be the guiding principles for all. It cannot be do as I say at crime summits but not as I do on the political platform.

PETER CHAMPAGNIE

Attorney-at-Law

peter.champagnie@gmail. com