Pro-conscription column was insulting
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to respond to an opinion which recently appeared in your paper entitled, “End of conscription hurts black males most”.
First let me state that this type of column, as insulting as it is, actually helps our cause as it makes people aware of the type of mentality we’ve had to deal with, to endure, over the past 13 years.
For interwoven throughout the article is the underlying theme that young black men are so devoid of structure and discipline they need some form of force in order to become productive citizens. This type of thinking is a legacy of slavery which has come down through segregation and sadly manifests its ugly head in 2018 among those suffering from a most severe inferiority complex.
I am speaking specifically of one Orville Campbell, who, in the process of defending conscription, insulted not only young black men, but also every black family and by extension the entire black community in Bermuda.
His offensive remarks transcended the issue of conscription. Several times he used the phrases, “the black man”, “the black male”, “the black race” and “the black population”, all with extremely negative connotations and in essence commits the cardinal sin of painting an entire demographic group with the same brush.
The following statement was particularly offensive: “A fundamental problem facing the black man today is a lack of self-identity made worse by an evolving generation of independent women, who now dominate their counterparts in all spheres of life.” Huh? Now keep in mind that statement was made by a black man and did not appear on a white-supremacist website although it could have, along with much of what he wrote, and would have been well received.
A lack of self-identity is the disease Mr Campbell himself appears to suffer from and, as a consequence, he seeks to ingratiate himself with those he no doubt feels to be superior by demeaning his own people. While doing so, Mr Campbell, a Jamaican national who lived here for a number of years, paints a picture of black society which is far from what it actually is in reality.
Therefore his entire column is built upon the false premise that there are no productive homes in the black community, only in the white. Nothing could be further from the truth as the overwhelming majority of black homes in this country provide a loving, caring, nurturing environment that produces good citizens.
Keep in mind that a significant percentage of these homes do so in the face of economic challenges and systematic racism. The white community also provides such environments and that is what makes Bermuda the great country it is to live in.
Notwithstanding the commendable job loving and hard-working black parents do in this country, complemented by churches, schools, sporting bodies, et cetera, Mr Campbell states that, “For this guy who doesn’t yet understand that what stands before him is a fight for a good future over the perils of a darker, easier route of brokenness, and nothingness, conscription was the perfect answer.”
The perfect answer? A system which violates seven basic and fundamental human rights and individual freedoms is the “perfect answer” for young black men? A system which was maintained by forced, cheap labour is the “perfect answer” for young black men?
A system put in place by the white government of the day to maintain the status quo at the expense of young black men is the “perfect answer” for them?
A system which allowed superiors to spew out profanities and vulgarities at young men in a way meant to demean them is the “perfect answer” for them? A system which has brought immense suffering to an innumerable amount of young men and their parents over the past 53 years is the “perfect answer” for young black men?
A system plagued by allegations of sexual abuse and allegations that sexual abuse was covered up is the “perfect answer” for young black men?
I suggest Mr Campbell read the series of articles on that topic written by The Royal Gazette’s own Samantha Strangeways.
It is evident he sorely lacks perspective on life apparently having never been taught the importance of the role of parents and the aforementioned institutions and why it is their responsibility to produce good citizens and not the state.
Interestingly, former US President Ronald Reagan, a white conservative, did indeed get it when he wrote in Human Events in 1979: “The draft rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state — not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers — to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn’t a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.”
Former Mr Reagan hit the nail on the head likening modern-day conscription with Nazism.
Astonishingly, on the other hand, we have a relatively young black man not only supporting such a system but doing so because he foolishly believes it is the “perfect answer” for young black men in Bermuda. This is especially hypocritical considering that his own country abolished conscription many decades ago deeming it a legacy of colonialism which needed to be eradicated in an independent Jamaica.
My suggestion to Mr Campbell is that he send that same opinion to The Gleaner so that young black men in his country might also avail themselves of the benefits from the “perfect answer”. As a matter of fact, seeing he views conscription as the panacea for this demographic group send it to every country in the Caribbean so that they too might reintroduce conscription so that their young men might also enjoy the manifold benefits of the “perfect answer”.
Conscription was wrong and needed to be abolished for that one reason and that one reason alone. Its abolition has absolutely nothing to do with the Royal Bermuda Regiment being modernised or evolving. It was and always has been about doing the right thing.
Young black men in this country, along with their white counterparts, many of whom are now free to return, will benefit immensely.
In closing, let me state that I was surprised that someone like Mr Campbell was actually the immediate past president of the Jamaican Association in Bermuda.
That too is surprising as we have received tremendous support from many of his countrymen over the years and I am certain he does not speak for them on this matter!
•Larry Marshall Sr is the founder of Bermudians Against the Draft