THE EDITOR: Several days ago, I posted on my Facebook page the following note: “Quite honestly I do not consider the jokes about Minister Marlene McDonald to be funny.”
What followed was a steady flow of private messages from Facebook acquaintances, some of whom I had never interacted with before.
Some of them expressed surprise and perhaps shock at what they perceived to be an open display of affection towards the PNM by a UNC voice and an apparent show of sympathy for a bungling, fumbling and tumbling Government.
Others felt I was being overly generous to Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, who after four years still cannot get his Cabinet right.
And coming on the heels of my resignation from the Senate a couple months ago, others interpreted it as an act aimed at rejuvenating the aspirations of the “long awaited” and slumbering third political party.
None of those comments warranted response there and certainly not here.
But out of curiosity, I questioned what was wrong or offensive about my post. And all that I got was, “They used to laugh at we, they laugh at Kamla (Persad-Bissessar), Anand (Ramlogan) and Gerald (Ramdeen), so we must laugh at them.”
It was then that I came to the realisation that the civilised war that politics should be was not, in this land of pan, tassa and pelau. I wondered whether it was right to ridicule McDonald simply because she and others in the PNM were consummately adept at pouring political scorn upon a political ideology that I believe in.
I didn’t have to wonder for long however. I merely could not support the humiliation of McDonald through social media memes or otherwise, most of which sought to make a mockery of her physical appearance.
It was not within my political style to condone the contempt being heaped on the former minister simply because they did it to Persad-Bissessar.
We have an appetite in TT to promote derision and hate, a hunger to trust the political dagger into the opponent until there is a final breath and a proclivity to reach for the political jugular to bleed the opponent at all cost.
I am not being an advocate of “nice boy politics,” but surely we can speak the truth and be respectful at the same time. Political picong should never be replaced with political assassination. Power may corrupt but it should not be able to destroy absolutely our compassion.
When we laugh at McDonald we must question whether we are really laughing at ourselves, laughing at our children and laughing at our legacy.
Let it not be said that this matter is not cause for national concern. Surely it is. In fact, there is perhaps sufficient political justification here to force public opinion in a particular way and to urge Rowley to call an early election and to seek a fresh mandate.
Indeed, Rowley had on numerous occasions called for fresh elections when then PM Persad-Bissessar had exercised her prerogative to fire ministers under the PP government.
The UNC can now call on Rowley to explain his apparent inconsistency. The UNC can now call on Rowley to explain the political paradox that he appears to be. How that call is strategically made is entirely a matter for Persad-Bissessar and the UNC.
But in the meantime, winning political hearts should certainly not involve destroying human souls.