Letter steeped in biases of the past
It was extremely disturbing to read the Letter to the Editor in The Royal Gazette on January 14, 2021 entitled “Spot the difference” wherein the author, Elspeth Gray, asks: “What is the difference between the Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building to prevent lawmakers from passing a law they disagree with and our own Progressive Labour Party ’rent-a-mob’ that in December 2016 blocked access to the House of Assembly…”.
She goes on to answer her own question by stating “In America, they are hunted down and prosecuted. In Bermuda, they are hailed as heroes and handed large, undisclosed sums of money in financial compensation”.
First, the use of "rent-a-mob" is a lie. It is a common fabrication that the Right uses to undermine the truth that there is popular opposition to right-wing beliefs. There is no evidence at all there was a "rent-a-mob", ie, paid protestors.
Also, the use of the word “mob” to describe those protesting at the House of Assembly, but the kinder use of “Trump supporters” used to describe the insurrection at the Capitol Building, again emphasises how she views two groups of people differently.
Eyewitnesses at the House of Assembly can attest that there were no people chanting for the lynching of politicians, no people were armed, no one brought zip ties to kidnap politicians, no one dropped any pipe bombs, no policemen were being dragged down steps and beaten, not one protestor had body armour. People did not die. The same was true of the December protests. And this is not even a comprehensive list.
The only resistance were people linking arms around the House of Assembly in March 2016 protesting the proposed immigration legislation, and the blocking of the gate into the House of Assembly grounds in protest of the airport legislation. In both instances, the protests were peaceful, with only isolated incidents by individuals.
It should be painfully obvious to any unbiased observer that the Bermuda protests and the ongoing insurrections in America are in no way similar. To believe otherwise requires a stunning ability to obfuscate facts and see the lens through an isolated and internalised fiction.
It is disturbing the author cannot see the racism present in the dismissal of an entire group of people who happen to be Black and different from her. What is happening in this letter, and in the subsequent blog, is an attempt to align the insurrection/armed riots in the Capitol Building with the peaceful protests in Bermuda. It is typical of racist commentary and the good guy/bad guy narrative, in our case White/Black. In fact, it is Trump-like and inciteful in its narrative.
Note how swiftly the attempts in the US by racist commentary to align the terrorism on the Capitol with the Black Lives Matter movement were torn down by even the most devoted Republicans.
The assumption of this Letter to the Editor that Black protestors — because that is who they were — were paid to protest is downright insulting, and clearly goes out of its way to reinforce the racial stereotypical, discriminatory and biased perspective that Black people are corrupt.
The letter also demonstrates the limited understanding this individual has of Bermuda’s oppressive past and the root cause and reasons for the protests. This lack of knowledge speaks to the failure of The Royal Gazette to ensure unbiased reporting and/or ensure all aspects of an event are reported. The only narrative the author has is the protest as reported in the media and not why people felt the need to come out and express their concerns. In doing so, she fails to understand the social issues in our country and, at the same time, dismisses the humanity, worries and needs of those protesting.
This superficial, false and inflammatory communication should not have been even given a platform by The Royal Gazette, our national daily. It has purposefully generated ignorant, ugly and disrespectful comments and simply widens the divide. Perhaps the most disturbing thing is that this letter, and its supportive bloggers, demonstrate all too clearly how one group fails so miserably to understand the social issues of the day or even relate to the majority-Black population and the challenges they have faced generationally.
It has been written from a position of privilege, wealth and security, and demonstrates an ignorant stance steeped in the biases of the past, and a basic lack of knowledge of these events of national and historical importance that occurred in 2016.
If one’s only source of information is The Royal Gazette, there is an accountability on the part of all Bermudians to dig deeper into the root cause and reason behind the 2016 protest, as it is naive to suggest the decision to protest was made in isolation, when in fact it was the result of cumulative impact of past oppression and ongoing marginalisation.
• The preceding was submitted by Citizens Uprooting Racism in Bermuda