Sun | Oct 25, 2020

Letter of the Day | Independence is a good thing, though imperfect

Published:Thursday | August 6, 2020 | 12:06 AM


Jamaica is 58 and at a critical point in its personal and global history. The Government’s strategy to use maximum force to fight crime via states of emergency and annihilating major violent criminals is accelerating.

The unintended consequences of this strategy will be a more stratified society. Criminals were not born bad but were created by circumstances. Fighting crime by eliminating key felons and states of emergency is like cutting off a head of a hydra – another head grows back i.e., another criminal is created, maybe two.

On August 3, the Government and Opposition signed a memorandum of understanding on the National Consensus on Crime. This is a positive step, but my preliminary deduction is that it is more political posturing by both political parties.

When I heard Prime Minister Andrew Holness say one of the major spears of their plan is to fight corruption at all levels, I am sceptical because no system deliberately destroys itself, and I assert that the very political system in Jamaica breeds corruption.

For example, to win political office, a person needs a tremendous amount of money, which they get from backers who usually get favours in return. The financial elite and the regular citizens’ interests usually collide, and politicians support their campaign financiers. Many supporters in both political parties have been caught eating ferociously at the public’s expense.

Second, on the cultural front, the recent court ruling which said wearing dreadlocks, once it’s not for religious reason, is not a right, is emblematic of what it means to be Jamaican. The real reason the court upheld that the school was right to exclude a student from school is a polished one. Talking about hygiene and ‘junjo’ is code speak for ‘antisocial’ and ‘disruptor’, in my view.

In Jamaica, many times image is more important than reality, both for the ruling elite and the ordinary people. Essentially, the school wants to keep its high-class image, which to them means excellence, and the ghetto image of dreadlocks is counterproductive, again in my view.

Jamaica is full of contradictions. Jamaica is known globally for reggae music and Rastafarianism. It is a good marketing tool, but certain sector sees it as unsophisticated. Like being an independent nation that has its former master’s court as its highest court, and its head of state a queen who is a foreigner. For me, independence is a good thing, although imperfect. Happy Independence, Jamaica.

Brian Ellis Plummer