Even as we were crossing Eastern Parkway opposite the Brooklyn Museum there was a brief warning. None of us making our way to Brooklyn Panorama last week Saturday into the grounds of the museum took the warning entirely seriously; but we should have.
Two hours later, when we were drenched in keeping with the weather forecast, the postponement of the event was announced without indication at that time if and when on Sunday it would be rescheduled.
This became a metaphor for this column, which focuses on our Trini inability to heed warnings or to have a plan B other than we go jam still and bawl down the place when the reality that has lashed others comes home by us.
I did not make it back to Brooklyn on Sunday. Although competition was no longer possible, my friends reported that the bands played from midday to 4 pm, still not in the best of weather, but surrounded by the warmth and camaraderie for which we are justifiably well known.
The bad news is that the survival of pan in Brooklyn is gravely threatened by the unavailability of places to keep a panyard. Brooklyn real estate is moving rapidly upmarket and minority community activities are under pressure.
It was my trip to New York for one piece of personal business, the US Open tennis and my second visit to Brooklyn Panorama that got in the way of publishing a column last Sunday. A fortnight of whirlwind dysfunction occurred while I was out of town. It also occurred while we were repeating trite and unrealistic assessments of our Independence.
The swearing in and “unswearing” of Mr Robert Le Hunte as a minister was not a trivial matter—coming as it did so soon after the Judicial and Legal Service Commission (JLSC) botched the Marcia Ayers-Caesar appointment and refused to accept responsibility, an event which underlined that a lack of due diligence is now the norm even at the highest levels.
This malaise also affects the office of President. There has been a successful Court challenge to the exercise of the powers of that office and, more recently, funds were wasted trying to hide behind an ouster of jurisdiction clause.
Next came the arrest of former Attorney General, Anand Ramlogan SC, on charges of alleged misbehavior in public office and obstruction of justice followed by a strangely worded statement from the Law Association.
Ramlogan is a high profile politician as well as an accused. While a general warning to refrain from statements prejudicial to a fair trial was in order, I do not believe that all comment on the political aspects of the prosecution can or ought to be suppressed.
It is a difficult distinction to make but caution is required with free speech rights. The media must remain free to seek out interviews from whom it pleases, subject to editorial judgment of what constitutes responsible journalism. Whom to interview and what comment to carry, however obtuse the comment, is not a judgment to be made by a third party like the Law Association.
The day after Ramlogan appeared in Court, the gruesome murder of Mrs Claire Broadbridge took place. A prominent female activist said that this murder had “rattled me in ways I could not anticipate.” The grieving son has called us cowards and quitters because we have conceded our society to the criminals through excessive tolerance of police and politicians not doing their job.
All of this reminds me of the outbursts when Dana Seetahal was murdered but they are again way too late. For more than a decade I have condemned the indifference of our unfeeling rulers and so called civil society to random mortality by violent crime.
At the time of Dana’s death I set out several of my unheeded warnings and stressed that we should mourn victims of every class. The grief component is the same.
It has been a lonely job. In March 2004, for example, in relation to the equally upsetting murders of that time, including that of Akiel Chambers, I asked: “Have we no belly to demand justice?”
Year after year I have invited the elites to cease the indifference and taking the easy money flowing out of the rotten State enterprise system in return for keeping silent.
I have set out and—with limited success—sought support for some obvious social development applications to mitigate the abuse and destruction of self esteem to which many youngsters are exposed from birth.
Dr Paula Morgan, a distinguished member of the University of the West Indies faculty, discusses the impact of “the psychic trauma” inflicted on our children in her book The Terror And The Time.
One aftermath of the trauma is “the creation of a sickness of sensibility.” If anyone wants to understand the brutality of some of the crimes being committed, when the current bout of wailing subsides, read that book or sponsor a lecture by Dr Morgan.