Bullying tactics require closer look
The last time I checked, Bermuda was still a democracy. It's therefore critically important for voters to take a close look at the Opposition's response to Chris Furbert and Jason Hayward's latest attempts to bully the public into submission.
More specifically, we need to scrutinise the PLP's response to the Bermuda Industrial Union's threat to derail the America's Cup, as well as their response to Jason Hayward's threatening comment: “We can easily bring this battle to the doorsteps of many who have loud mouths and are extremely disrespectful.”
First, the PLP issued their statement in support of the America's Cup two full days after the ultimatum was made. What exactly was the PLP waiting for? Obviously they were aware of the outrage across the community. Yet, they dragged their feet in releasing a statement. Tactically, it appears that they waited until after the BIU backed down so that they would not appear to be in direct opposition to their most critical protest ally. That's not showing leadership. That's being politically expedient.
Second, the PLP's claim that Bermuda has committed $100 million to the America's Cup event is a gross exaggeration. The PLP has consistently tried to get voters to believe that the OBA is taking money away from social programmes and giving it away to rich white men. What they don't want is for voters to see that social programmes financially benefit from a tourism recovery due to events like the America's Cup. Thus, they've inflated the cost to $100 million in order to sustain resentment towards the event.
Third, and most critical, it should be noted that although the PLP gave backhanded support to AC35, they did not denounce the BIU's ongoing threat to derail the event. They also said nothing about Hayward's threat to bring direct confrontation to critics. In other words, the bullying was tacitly approved. But how could the PLP denounce such bully tactics? Why would they, when they've been bullying the public for so many years? To paraphrase Wayne Furbert's comments from 2007, the PLP government fosters an environment that, “pits people against each other, where racial slurs are part of public dialogue and where the government will come after you if you dare to disagree”.
Did the 2012 election loss lead to any change in those bullying tactics? Absolutely not. Since 2012 we've seen PLP members like Terry Lister and Randy Horton being subjected to bullying. By default, OBA members are branded as racists, racial sell-outs or anti-Bermudian. Toni Daniels and Leah Scott, in particular, are two individuals who have been subjected to some of the most repugnant bullying tactics.
But you don't even have to be a politician to be targeted. Canon James Francis was targeted by none other than Reverend Nicholas Tweed. Columnists and bloggers are also routinely targeted with personal attacks merely for expressing a contrary point of view. Last November, MP Derek Burgess demonstrated that even the Commission of Inquiry isn't immune to the PLP's bully tactics.
It might be tempting to think that the PLP's leadership change would result in less bullying and hostile conduct. So far, this would appear to be wishful thinking, at best. The blockading of Parliament, not the protesting of the airport contract, was a form of bullying. It sought to deny voters their democratic rights to political representation.
Last month's bullying went further than the blockade, though. One person made the following comment on social media: “how is It this trew character telling me how thing went down ... umm i was there i didnt watch it on Facebook or news ... smh ... AN OBA PUPPET NEEDS HIS STRINGS CUT.”
No matter how you may try to interpret this comment, it is undeniably a call for retribution. Of greater concern to Bermuda's stability, it appears to have been endorsed by Opposition Leader, David Burt.
The real consequences of this kind of leadership is that you end up with followers who believe that they can say and do what they want, whenever they want, and without regard to financial consequences, democratic rights, or law and order.
This is precisely why Furbert had the audacity to threaten Bermuda's economic recovery in the first place. This is precisely why Hayward so flippantly speaks of “civil war” and bringing a battle to the doorsteps of those who oppose him. This is precisely why the People's Campaign and MOVE believe that they have an inalienable right to bring the island to a screeching halt whenever they see fit.
As has been stated many times over this past week, the silent majority needs to speak up.
If they don't, the bullying will continue. And if the bullying continues, Bermuda's collapse will be all but assured, especially if we once again elect a government that comes after you if you dare to disagree.
• Bryant Trew can be contacted at email@example.com
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