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LETTER OF THE DAY - Jamaica must learn from Arizona bloodbath

Published:Tuesday | January 11, 2011 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The recent assassination attempt that left Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition and killed six other people, including a federal judge, should serve as a wake-up call for us here in Jamaica.

Speculation is rife that the shooting incident on Saturday in Tucson, Arizona, had its genesis in the extreme rhetoric that has characterised United States politics in the aftermath of the acrimonious campaign for the midterm elections last November.

Jamaican politics has historically been too divisive, with largely two warring tribes - the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party - getting at each other come election time.

Our political rhetoric - both on the campaign trail and in Parliament - has been often quite inflammatory and has greatly influenced many maniacs or the rabid supporters of both major parties to attack one another violently.

While our politicians across the divide are not usually personal enemies, such a fact is not readily apparent or appreciated by the average supporters of both major parties, who often take their cue from the politicians.

Our history may not be replete with instances of our people exacting violence against our politicians. However, we cannot discount such a possibility.

Take heed

That the inflamed rhetoric has caused too many of our people to turn on each other, oftentimes with extreme violence, all in the name or cause of politics, should be sufficient reason for our politicians to conduct themselves more responsibly.

If those on both sides of the political divide cannot be civil towards each other, their average supporters who, sadly, are not always the most sophisticated, will likewise continue to be uncivil towards each other and our politics will continue to be so marred.

It is my fervent hope that our political figures, led by the respective party leaders, will seek to adjust their political speeches and be respectful to each other to similarly influence their supporters.

I am, etc.,

KEVIN K.O. SANGSTER

sangstek@msn.com