EDITORIAL – The immoveable object

According to Wikipedia, “the wrestling term “nelson” is derived from
“full nelson”, which dates back to the early 19th century. It has been
suggested that it was named after Horatio Nelson, who used strategies
based on surrounding the opponent to win the Battle of the Nile and
the Battle of Trafalgar, but its true origin remains uncertain”.

Whatever may be the true origin of the title of this powerful hold, it
is defined more graphically by the Cambridge English Dictionary as “a
way of holding someone’s arm from behind with both of your arms and
holding their neck with your hands, so that it is difficult for them
to move”.

Given the tenacity with which the statue of the Admiral has held on to
its treasured spot in this nation’s capital city, despite the loud and
varied calls for its removal therefrom over the years, it would not be
a stretch to suggest that whatever the symbolism portrayed by the
statue, it has immobilised local officialdom in a powerful full nelson

After all, the Sandiford administration could do no more than have it
reversed…but Nelson  stayed put. A subsequent  administration, perhaps
unwittingly, caused it to be a superfluous anomaly in its location by
renaming Trafalgar Square as National Heroes’ Square…but the Admiral
remained. Now, with the world raging against the evils of a racist
past by removing the symbols of that era from prominence, Lord Nelson
looks likely once more to survive this fresh assault by maintaining
his firm grip on the sensibilities of our governing administrations.

According to the  Honourable Prime Minister, in her most recent public
statement on the issue, while she is of a certain persuasion, she is
unwilling to have that foisted on Barbadians, but will act only in
accordance with the outcome of public consultation.

While this tactic might accord with the highest ideals of democracy,
it appears to us to be akin merely to kicking the can further down the
road, since in the absence of any structured form of public discourse
whose results are empirically measurable, such as a referendum, public
conversation in Barbados has achieved and will achieve little, other
than providing partisan fodder for the radio talk shows and letters to
the editors columns of the local dailies. The concept of public
consultation determining anything useful or at all here is little more
than reverie, in our view. We note, too, that many issues that would
otherwise have proved controversial have been advanced by earlier
administrations over the years without the benefit of this much
vaunted consultation.

There was nonesuch for permitting the medical termination of
pregnancy, or for the abolition of the death penalty, or for acceding
to the appellate jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice. At
all those times we acted on a felt imperative. But we expect that,
once again, the statue will remain, after much civic energy is spent
on an unstructured, immeasurable and essentially meaningless debate.

Local public discourse in our view, should rather be centred on why
Lord Nelson maintains such a hold on the Barbadian psyche that his
statue has virtually  become an immoveable object. Most of the
arguments for its retention are intellectually weak, yet it is that he
still stands defiantly.

We should ask ourselves rather, what does that statute symbolise that
is so compelling? Could it be that its presence manifests the
quintessence of Barbadian anti-intellectual conservatism; that unless
something affects the individual himself for better or for worse
economically, then all else is wasteful ideation and not worth the

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