Peter O'Connor writes a weekly column for the Newsday.
“They have crossed the line!” harrumphs our Minister of National Security. “We are not going to take this!” he thunders on, and on.
Really? Well what are we going to do about it, then? This feigned outrage that has us strutting around in ongoing pantomime buffoonery, scaring the poor criminal element out of their wits? Is that the answer, the solution? Terrify the criminal element with bombast? We could write a pantomime, with ridiculous dramas unfolding on stage, constantly interrupted by a buffoonish be-medalled general running on and offstage shouting “We are not going to take this anymore!”
We all endorse crime. We do not need any more announcements, statements, lectures or encouragement from the minister, nor the commissioner, nor the Prime Minister, for that matter. If we, as a country cannot begin to reduce crime, far less even hold it at its current unacceptable level, let us also stop all the impotent bombast and empty threats and try to develop solutions instead.
Governments under self-imposed pressure always go on verbal attacks against their critics rather than joining to resolve the critics’ concerns, even, or maybe especially when the criticisms have popular support. We see this interminably on American news channels where US President Donald Trump is filling the airways with counter- punching instead of problem –solving. And this counter- punching has caught the Democrats with their pants down, again. All Democrat “harassers” (so far exposed) have announced their resignations from Congress and Senate. Republicans similarly exposed, President Trump included, “ain’t goin’ nowhere!” And these same Republicans are high on their moral horses about the Democrats caught with their pants down.
And we see signs of this approach – attacking accusers with a barrage of curses and prayers to smother their arguments – now being used by our Government. And why not? We have always been yearning for our perceived Hollywood life style of the Americans. And America leads us in fashion, music, diets and the worst aspects of their culture and crime. A negative trend begins in the United States and we follow right behind. So no wonder when Trump and his cohorts go on media crusades against their critics, that our failing leaders would follow suit.
And that is why the Minister of National Security can go into his bombastic tirades about crime “now” needs his threats. Our police top brass is the same. They are using stilted Victorian phrases to scare our gun-toting young criminals into good behaviour. It is all the talk of hapless people who only understand their own “importance.”
And that is why our Prime Minister can harangue us for 45 minutes on Sunday night television and not have an answer to any of the problems we are facing. And we are going to see more and more of this sort of counter-attack to our criticism, rather than Government fixing the problems which are creating the dissatisfactions. If it is working for Trump, it will work for us, right?
Well, actually no. You see, there is a work ethic in America which we understand when we work there. They get to work on time and work right through their shift. They work hard and achieve results. We do this when we are in America, for the Americans. Here at home, we reach work anytime, and leave early. We conspire how not to achieve any job goals for the day. Here we work neither for ourselves, our employers nor our country.
In America, we Trinis know not to drop a “sweetie wrapper” on the pavement, far less a box of KFC bones at riversides or on beaches. Over there we are proud of how clean it is, and our contribution to that situation. Here? I need to tell you? Tell us?
You see, Trump and his sycophants are fighting his verbal battle against his critics from their position of strength. Strength symbolised by the fact things work. Bandits and criminals are arrested, even if Republican congressmen and presidents are not! And the functioning of governance is not the issue. Trump can claim credit for things that work, even if he has nothing to do with that fact. So, he can huff and puff, but the work still gets done, and he claims the credit. Here, as we all know, nothing works. There is nothing to boast about. There is no credit to be claimed. In that context our wanna-be-Trump ministers are just hollow echoes.
When will we find our own feet to place upon our own stepping stones to build our own society to serve our citizens rather than aping the American model? There is no one in governance, Government or Opposition, whom I can see as capable of lifting us out of the current morass in which we remain bogged and bound. Can you name anyone?