Biting into Lisa's bikini
Daniel Thwaites, Contributor
How much time should we spend on something so small as Ms Hanna's bikini? Because it excites and arouses such interest. A lot!
I avoid racy pictures on the Internet, so I was missing the whole thing until The Gleaner published an article about it. There was Ms Hanna with an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny, yellow likkle piece a bikini hanging on to her for dear life. Quite predictably, a few critics helpfully flew into rage, which then caused an avalanche of defensive outrage at the rage.
Not to be outdone, I decided to be enraged as well. By my calculation, because of how competitive politicians are, once you start this trend, soon the whole Government and Opposition are going to be exposing themselves and posting swimsuit photographs. I imagine the women will sport bikinis and tankinis, and the men will have to wear those Speedo 'ball-hammocks'. This could get out of hand really fast and the whole system could collapse.
And I don't think we can predict the outcome if a swimwear arms race took off. Right now, we're assuming that Lisa would start out in front, but there are others who could mix it up by virtue of sheer fluffiness. Remember, this is Jamaica, and it's all about that bass, no treble. Not to mention that some a dem bwoy deh more fabulous than the girls.
Put all that one side for the moment, there's another issue. I'm feeling like it's time to fight against this aristocracy of beautiful and talented people. Mi waan justice.
Scientists study beauty, and it's more than skin deep. Good-looking people get major advantages in life. Handsome men and pretty women earn more, are automatically considered nicer people, and are overall more successful than average-looking people.
Same with talent and skill. I've been trying to deejay like Kartel and run like Usain for years, but despite prodigious efforts of bathroom singing and some occasional jogging on the spot, it's not working out.
If justice demands that all people be treated the same way and have the same chances in life, these accidental characteristics that give people huge advantages have to be eliminated.
But then I changed my mind. Or, rather, to get serious for a moment, in a week when Taliban savages driving to impose sharia law across Pakistan slaughtered children, it's worth remembering how good it is to be here, and not there. There doesn't sound like any fun whatsoever, with the women walking around in hijabs and abayas covered from head to toe and looking like frightening creatures from Star Wars. No, Sah! I would rather be right yasso, content that Ms Hanna can put on a bikini, post it on Instagram, and generally mash up de place.
Ultimately, the bikini is one of the unalloyed benefits of Western culture. We understand that most other benefits are mixed, and that there is no gain without loss in human affairs. But the bikini is a wonderful reminder that freedom is good, and that the freedom and security of women bring joy to everybody.
Attitudes to Cuba are, in Jamaica, the test case for intellectual honesty in at least the following respect: Many lavish praise upon a regime and system that they wouldn't ever want to live under, and cheer the imposition of laws upon their neighbours when they would resist and riot if those same laws were applied to them.
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That said, Jamaica can rightfully feel proud about its support of Cuba and opposition to the stupid US embargo policy. Moreover, it is a time to remember Michael Manley, among the most passionate voices raised against Washington's bullying tactics.
Finally, President Obama ignored the articulate minority of rabidly anti-Castro Cubans in South Florida and began the process of normalising relations between the countries. With that trenchant opposition waiting, this change took some political courage.
Still, from another angle, it's mysterious why it's taken so long. For one thing, younger Cuban-Americans who didn't have the experience of fleeing Cuba with $100 sewn into the hem of their jackets understandably don't have the same antipathies as the older generation. Furthermore, the Cold War is over, and the policy didn't work. Cuba poses no threat to the USA, the embargo hurts both economies, and, c'mon, man, yuh mus' live good wid yuh neighbours.
The embargo failed not because embargoes will necessarily fail (they're currently pulverising Russia), but because the world - and very many Americans - felt they were unjust. US food trade with Cuba began after Hurricane Michele in 2001. It's now Cuba's second largest food supplier, and estimates of potential trade run to US$5 billion annually.
There was always a veneer of hypocrisy over the embargo. Remember that Kennedy, after positioning himself as more hawkish than Eisenhower and Nixon on Cuba, sent one of his do-boys to purchase a boatload of Cuban cigars before ramping up the trade embargo.
Anyway, back in 2011, more than 80 per cent of Cuban-Americans felt the embargo wasn't working. And even though Obama eased travel and remittance restrictions in 2009, his support among Cuban-Americans jumped from one-third in 2008 to one-half in 2012. And it's not one-sided. The Cuban government, too, has agreed to concessions, and it's risky for them to have the embargo lifted. Having a Great Satan upon whom you can blame every striking thing is a very useful political bogeyman.
I foresee a big future. Cuba already has the bikinis and what to put in them. But in time, when the Kennedy Fried Chicken franchises open up, the bikinis will have to stretch. And soon, like us, they can watch their ministers frolicking by the seashore.
Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.