This is the time to let cooler heads prevail
Last Friday evening, former Progressive Labour Party candidate Makai Dickerson felt the need to register his disgust about immigration comments made in the House of Assembly by One Bermuda Alliance minister Trevor Moniz.
Taking a page from the Immigration Reform Action Group's book of ultimatums, Dickerson wrote: “The people of this island that do not want this are not bound by the rules of the House of Assembly. We don't have to be allowed to speak by the Speaker of the House and he can't make us sit down.
“If you go ahead and pass this Bill, the repercussions may be detrimental. The people do not have to sit down at the sound of a gavel.
“Do not make this harder than it needs to be. Stop now. Otherwise, what happens will be on you.”
“Think about America's Cup. We can make or break it. Don't blame us if it's ruined; blame yourselves. Because if you don't listen, you will feel.”
Here we have contempt being shown for the Speaker, as well as an attempt to blame others for antisocial repercussions. But what disturbs me most is that the language could easily be interpreted as a threat.
Early Saturday morning, another poster made a more explicit post in the same discussion: “I love my country ... if I have to learn the hard way ... it's time to riot”.
Many hours later, the same poster wrote the following: “Slept on it and I still feel social unrest is the path forward ... it is clear that the people are being pushed out and this is by design ... this is economic genocide”.
It is here that we really need to take pause because Facebook has a feature that allows readers to show support for a comment. Much to my disappointment, PLP Senate leader Marc Daniels was one such person.
When pressed for clarification, he replied: “The OBA seeks to change the trajectory of this island to the detriment of its people, so yes. Standing up for one's right requires sacrifice.”
Predictably, Dickerson liked Daniels's comment.
Rather than bring some political maturity to the conversation, PLP MP Diallo Rabain came to Dickerson's defence: “Keep on bro and ignore the obvious distractions who are have hitched their wagon to the OBA and are tied to the death spiral they are on right now.”
Seeking clarification, I asked Rabain four times if he was in support of Dickerson's threat and if he would speak to the other comments that explicitly called for a riot. Rabain refused to answer the questions.
All of this should have every Bermudian ask one simple question: is the PLP attempting to encourage not merely civil disobedience, but also civil unrest?
Well, if you listened to Monday's debate on an urgent motion to form a bipartisan joint select committee, all doubts about the PLP's true agenda should have been removed. For more than nine hours, it engaged in fearmongering, race-baiting, name-calling and issuing veiled threats of violence.
Who could argue that the PLP's desire was to have the OBA engage in bipartisan reform when the PLP describes the OBA as “disease-carrying cockroaches”?
Who would believe that the PLP was seeking collaboration when it so eagerly talks of impending war?
Who would perceive that the PLP wants a peaceful solution when it is encouraging people to riot?
Who could conclude that the PLP is genuinely concerned for the people of this island when it fails to warn us of the catastrophic consequences of civil unrest?
By every reasonable estimation, the only possible outcome of the PLP's acrimonious conduct on Monday is anger and strife.
Clearly, its goal was to agitate voters instead of bringing the OBA to the table. We should therefore not be surprised by its continued failure to present its own vision for immigration reform. Instead, we should remember that the same strategy was used in the summer of 2014.
Remember, what started out as a challenge to the Governor over a commission of inquiry ended up as a “request” by the PLP to the Foreign Office to dissolve Parliament. As soon as that failed, the PLP's interest in alleged land theft evaporated. Two years later, the PLP is once again exploiting an emotive issue for its own benefit.
As was the case in 2014, the PLP is trying to force an early election by any means necessary.
Given this, Bermuda must let cooler heads prevail instead of giving in to politically driven calls for escalation:
“Having observed, with great sadness, the cries against PRCs, the demands for reparation on Tucker's Town land, the marches on Government House and the Cabinet Office, the vapid, incendiary phrases that we are being sent back to the plantation and into slavery; to say nothing of the ‘ultimatum' being served on the elected Government, I say it is time for reasonable Bermudians to step back, pause and reflect on what all this noise is doing to the future of our island.” — Canon James Francis, August 2014
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