Race: Sending a message
New Premier Ewart Brown promised in the Throne Speech the nation needed an 'open, honest frank and sustained discussion on race'.Certainly few will deny that the invective-strewn verbal volley he launched at Grant Gibbons was at least frank.In a row over party funding, the Premier hit back at Dr. Gibbons' use of the word 'political eunuch' and he went on: “Now black people respond negatively to any reference to castration.“During slavery there was a big call for eunuch stations and it was at those stations that black men were sent to be castrated. If I called that member a racist dog. You see it is the dog that matters.”The furore prompted a flurry of press conferences and statements from the United Bermuda Party.For political scientist and PLP supporter Walton Brown the row was important in setting the tone in many people's minds.“People reacted to it very strongly on both sides. It reverberated, it was very, very potent. It was unmistakable in the message it conveyed.“The message as far as Dr. Brown is concerned is he is not going to tolerate people who make comments that ostensibly are on the issues but really the speech is laden with a sense of racism because the person believes he's superior to someone else and can speak in a manner that is ultimately condescending.”For UBP supporter and blogger Christian Dunleavy the set-piece exchange, delivered to a packed gallery, “revealed to me how calculatingly manipulative and deceptive he can be” when he needs to change the topic from his fundraising activities over a number of years.“Race is always a good alternative in Bermuda and is one he reverts to frequently with plantation rhetoric, particularly when he's in campaign mode,” said Mr. Dunleavy.“The event signalled to me a setting of the tone in the lead-up to an election and an act of intimidation to anyone who dare criticise him.”But one Opposition MP said: “What he did with that was solidify his support within the party — he used that as a galvanising moment.”And the source predicted more would be heard on the race issue.“Love him or hate him he's serious about economic empowerment — I would be very surprised if we didn't see something come out during the budget or immediately after.”And some felt the UBP had overreacted to the situation while one PLP source said the Premier had done himself some good with the 'racist dog' diatribe.“There was a level of black people who appreciated that type of talk.”Meanwhile little has been heard from Rolfe Commissiong who was appointed as consultant to the Premier to conduct a full review of the Young Black Male Study.