Fri | Jun 25, 2021

Daniel Thwaites | Kamala Harris is a Jafaikan (Pt 2)

Published:Sunday | July 14, 2019 | 12:00 AM

I read with great satisfaction the article published this Wednesday titled ‘Thwaites’ attack on Kamala Harris baseless’ by Toni Forsyth, advertised as a professor emeritus of English and teacher of critical thinking and composition, and even director of the Center for the Study of Diversity in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. I took especial note of all the academic credentialling, and pause to mention it because the universities in America, particularly the second-tier degree mills, are becoming madrassas of ideological conformity and overpriced boot camps geared towards knocking every sense of decency out of people’s children.

Anyway, among my favourite pastimes is responding to a challenge to either apologise, explain further, or double down. Regarding the Jafaikan Kamala Harris, I want to double down.

There’s one thing Toni Forsyth was accurate about: Kamala Harris doesn’t really bother to talk about her Jamaican roots. It really only came up when she had to explain her ganja smoking.

Now I’m as much in favour of a weed-head president as the next guy, but I take exception to someone who only remembers the beautiful island, and leans on the culture when it’s time to talk about ganja. And this from a former prosecutor who notoriously spent great energy locking people up for the same weed.

It’s on that basis that I identified her as a Jafaikan, because she’s only coming to pose up wid wi when it suits her agenda. Why did she not call upon her Jamaican roots when somebody asked about astonishing intelligence, good work ethic, or even good looks? She is a good-looking woman, and Jamaicans are good-looking people, so that’s what I want to hear about from her. But, no. Just weed.

All the same, the ex-professor makes a decent point when she says that context is important. So here’s the context in which I write that “Kamala Harris is a Jafaikan”. I was, and still am, talking to Jamaicans in a Jamaican newspaper, some of whom are likely to feel some affinity to Harris based on her father’s original nationality. It is why the newspapers here in Jamaica cover her with more avidity than other Democratic candidates.

For instance, the Jamaican papers aren’t likely to follow that gay fellow Buttycheeks, the red-Indian Pocahontas, crazy communist Bernie, Uncle Joe, or my old schoolmate Corey ‘Spartacus’ Booker, with as much detail.

Small Minority

In that context, I think it fair to point out to them how completely loopy and bananas her ideas are about things compared to what the clear majority of people on this island consider common sense. Harris may appeal to the Democratic base, but only a very small minority of Jamaicans would put up with her brand of politics.

Were I talking to Americans in an American newspaper I would have had to spend the time explaining and arguing about things that I don’t need to delay myself with, given the superiority of Jamaican sensibilities in these arenas of life. For instance: why abortion on demand isn’t a good idea, why national borders require some kind of policing, why gay marriage isn’t a good idea. There’s no need to belabour the point to Jamaicans that a basic Christian orientation is a good idea for a judge, not a disqualifying characteristic, as Ms Harris seems to think.

Prof Forsyth and I aren’t at odds because of different information, but rather because of violent disagreement about the same data set. Quite simply, I have come to consider American liberalism as something of a mental disease. The correct approach to both parties is detestation.

So aside from highlighting the spectacularly delicious beatdown Ms Harris got from the Jamaican who knows her best – no less a figure than her father – I’m actually less interested in her, and more interested in how we Jamaicans deal with the politics of someone like her. What people decide to do over there in California is, at some level, their own business. Everyone knows California is famous for fruits and nuts.

There are very many Jamaicans, including me, who move with great fluidity between the United States and the homeland, and it’s worth remarking how people’s views change with context. I’ve never quite understood how people can hold one view in Kingston, and the diametrically opposite view after an hour and a half’s flight away in Miami.

If abortion on demand is the right policy in Miami, it is the right policy in Kingston. If open borders are a good idea in the USA regarding Mexicans, Hondurans, and Salvadoreans, it ought to be a good idea in Jamaica regarding the Chinese, Haitians, and Hondurans. If gay marriage ought to be legal in America, then it ought to be legal in Jamaica.

On a final, clarifying note, I say that Joe Biden is “probably male” because it appears to be part of the settled ideology of the Democratic Party that human beings aren’t born with a gender, but choose it. Who am I to say Mr Biden is a male? He could very well have been identifying as an HIV-positive, overweight Hispanic-American female on the day of the debate. Aren’t we obliged to respect how people ‘identify’?

- Daniel Thwaites is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to