A GUY'S VIEW - When you sow the wind

“They are from Israel! This calf – a metalworker has made it; it is not God. It will be broken in pieces, that calf of Samaria. They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. The stalk has no head; it will produce no flour. Were it to yield grain, foreigners would swallow it up. Israel is swallowed up; now she is among the nations like something no one wants.” – Hosea 8:6-8.

Last week, a man decided to shoot a number of Republican politicians in Washington D.C, USA. It seems that he found out where they were practising for a baseball game and targeted them there.

In responding to this event, one Republican politician was heard to say that the Democrats need to moderate their tone. If I were not sitting I would have fallen. Another one blamed President Obama for the shooting because, according to him, Obama focused on what divided Americans rather than what unified them. These people have no conscience.

Even in this unusual moment, these politicians could not help but be political. Their amnesia did not allow them to remember their evil deeds and how they deliberately developed the kind of hatred to which the shooter gave expression.

These Republicans were the most vitriolic and demeaning politicians one may remember in recent times when Barack Obama was President of the United States. When Hillary Clinton won the nomination to contest the presidency on behalf of the Democratic Party, she was vilified in the worst way. The assault on her was led by Donald Trump, but he never lacked choristers.
Donald Trump said that she should be locked up and if he were the President, she would be. General Flynn followed suit. They pumped up their crowds to call for her imprisonment. “Lock her up” was a constant chant at Trump rallies.

Trump threatened to punch people in the face, and his followers did so when non-supporters were found among them at rallies. Trump encouraged aggression towards opponents and those who supported him obeyed.

His message resonated with many Republicans, for his nationalistic, small-mindedness was reflective of their world view. The racist personality which lies just beneath the surface of much of the American society came to the fore with the rise of Trump. His rhetoric has been a breeding ground of hate.

Americans have long settled their differences with guns. When they do not like a President, they shoot him. To avoid this fate befalling all of their leaders, they have developed the most elaborate protection system of any country to secure their leaders.

When they do not like what a popular figure is saying, even if he is not a politician, they shoot him. The civil rights leaders that were gunned down provide ample evidence of this.

It was a surprise to some that the Washington shooter was a supporter of the Democratic Party. It was commonly expected that the crazies are all Republican because their leaders’ dog whistling appeals to them, but this event demonstrates that they do not have a monopoly on passionate, misguided supporters.

In an effort to destabilise the Barbados Government, a carefully organised programme of disrespect and aggression has been rolled out across social media. I recently heard what sounded like a male voice on WhatsApp ranting in an out-of-control manner, spouting expletives at the Government. There is very little separating him from a criminal assault against a member of the Government, once given the opportunity.

Given his track record, when President Trump came out after the Washington shooting and said that Americans should unite, his words rang hollow. He is divider in chief, except when his recommendation comes home to his friend and party. You cannot go around inciting people to disrespect and violence and when they act, deny any responsibility for their actions.

This is true of America and it is true of Barbados. But talentless people who cannot win an argument on principle or ideas, resort to ugliness that would not be contemplated by intelligent people. Unfortunately, there are always persons in the crowd who do not have the ability to think for themselves and are willing to run with their emotions after they have been stroked and stoked. Is it too remote and unforeseeable that a simple person would harm another who was caricatured as evil by the politicians the simpleton respects and admires? This should be tested.
We have seen the ability of law enforcement to knit together the histories of persons after they have carried out some cruel act. This also demonstrates that they do not have the ability to prevent these events. It is only a matter of time before the members of the society realise that their safety is all up to them. When this happens, it is each man for himself and the state will lose control of the society.

Law enforcement cannot prevent lawlessness if the members of the community decide that this is the way they must survive. What is needed are community interventions that identify vulnerabilities before they turn into practices and habits.

For this to be successful, all influential elements in the society must be pulling in the same direction. This is important in a small space like Barbados but it is equally important in
bigger countries.

Political debate can be robust without being destructive. Interest groups in the society can contend for the advancement of their ideals and not vilify each other. The general point is that all Barbadians should think of what is best for the well-being of the country and its people when they address their minds to the issues that confront them.

The Hosea admonition is both historical and current and is relevant to us, for we are Israel. We will reap what we sow, multiplied.

Barbados Advocate

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