Home / View Point / Earl Best / Media Monitor: T&T reacts to Rowley’s offer; a soulless nation or asshole people?

Media Monitor: T&T reacts to Rowley’s offer; a soulless nation or asshole people?

If you are a TV6 regular and you’re like me, you may have noticed two striking things on the number one television channel this week. The second, occurring on Thursday night, had to do with the results of the daily poll and told me something about me and the country as a whole.

The first, occurring on Wednesday evening, was not about me but about the media house. Let’s start there.

Desha Rambhajan, TV6’s current news presenter who graces television screens at 7pm Monday to Friday.

Journalism 101 always includes a segment on defamation, which is the only area on which media houses in T&T are prepared to provide regular training. So it was something of a shock when, as the presenter read a story about two constables who were caught in a drug bust in South Oropouche, TV6 put up on the screen a picture of two policemen who clearly had nothing to do with the bust.

Maybe the people in TV6 won the last $16m lotto jackpot and wanted to share their bounty with two scrunting policemen.

Now, to number two. Whether or not you are a TV6 regular, you probably have seen with your own eyes the devastation wrought by hurricanes and earthquakes within the last month. First, there was Harvey, which turned Houston and other parts of Texas into one vast non-swimming pool. He was followed by Irma, which left parts of Florida under deep water. More importantly, however, it left several islands in the region, including Barbuda and Cuba, reeling from the hit.

And then there was Maria, which made the Prime Minister of Dominica cry, with the whole world watching, and his Antiguan counterpart go down on his metaphorical knees—before the same audience—and beg for debt forgiveness.

Notwithstanding all of that drama, played out in great detail, mind you, before our very eyes, full 39% of the respondents on TV6 on Wednesday said Prime Minister Keith Rowley was wrong to throw open the doors of the country to Dominicans. And more than 40%—perhaps more than 50%!—of those calling in to 107.7FM and i95.5fm castigated the PM for the announcement.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Rowley (right) and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro shake hands during a joint media conference in Port of Spain on May 23, 2016.
(Copyright Alva Viarruel/AFP 2016/Wired868)

On social media, the percentage of disapproval of the PM’s hugely humanitarian gesture was reportedly far higher, prompting the Saturday Guardian to use its headline to denounce what was behind it as “HATE.” Fear? Yes. Ignorance? Yes. Folly? Yes. Xenophobia? Perhaps. But hatred? Emphatically not!

Still, wtf, as Corey Gilkes might say, is wrong with us? Like deh put we so? What ever happened to the Christian injunction that if you do it unto the least of my brethren, you have done it unto me? And if you’re not into the biblical stuff, what about the wisdom of the ages that says do unto others as you would have them do unto you?

Finally, let’s paraphrase the poet who warned that if you do nothing on Monday and Tuesday when they come for your neighbours, don’t be surprised if nobody lifts a finger to help you when they come for your tail by the end of the week.

So, of course, I disagree violently, vehemently with my former colleague and current fellow columnist whose most recent Street Vibes piece takes the PM to task for his gesture. I read the entire piece convinced that there was going to be a sting in the tail, an eleventh-hour, last-minute about-turn. Nope. He had really pitched camp among the Guardian’s “haters;” I can guarantee that he’ll find not a single familiar Wired868 face there.

Until I read that column, I had been planning to write about the Prime Minister’s recent flair for neologogeneration. I refer, of course, to his not-much-remarked “smartmanism” and his earlier “jamettry,” which on Thursday earned him a full column from the Express’ columnist doctor who is lettered in linguistics. What caught my attention was the reaction of the poor signer on the television who was for a long second visibly in more hell than Browne.

Photo: Wait… What he just say?

I had been thinking of saying that, in T&T, when you’re spending money la-blash like if it going outta style, we does ask if yuh have a money tree. Before Dr James’ exegesis, I was trusting my ears and going with “jamette tree,” based on the “money tree” model; it would not have been the first time that that message about local women was coming from that source.

And I had wanted to write about the i95.5fm person who keeps leaving the ‘k’ out of the under fire A&V CEO’s name (“Bash”). And about the news presenter on the same station who apparently never heard of infanticide, repeatedly talking about “homicide” some time ago although the victim was a child.

Still on the same station, you have the sports presenter for whom Barbados is always “Barbadoze” and Benjamin always “Benjiman.”

Not to mention the stand-in 107.7FM mid-morning presenter who called Candi Staton “Candi Station” and Hispaniola “Hispanolia.”

But all of that will now have to wait. E-literacy, it seems to me, is much less urgent a problem than heartlessness. No, soullessness. It takes a special breed of sub-human to be capable of even thinking some of the things I see reported in the Guardian as having been posted on social media.

“What they will do to survive?” one posts reads. “The easiest way is to kidnap people steal people cars, rob people, thief and kill people…”

Jesus, Mary and Joseph, well, Irma, María and José!

Photo: Talk show host and comedian Errol Fabien has been the voice of sanity, taking a major role in pushing a concert intended to raise funds to assist devastated Dominica.

Fortunately, there are voices of reason. Errol Fabien was all over the airwaves advertising a concert to raise funds to help the worst-hit countries. “One island, one concert, one people,” the tagline says. “They may have been devastated by the hurricane,” Fabien assures, “but we aren’t going to let them down.”

But the last word goes to 107.7FM’s Conrad Parris.

“And some people are so patriotic,” he commented on his Lunchtime programme on Thursday, “they don’t want to share their country with anybody else, no matter how dire their situation.”

“That’s not patriotic,” he set them right, “it’s foolish and plain selfish.”

Maybe I’m not in sync with the vibes on the streets but I couldn’t agree more.

Photo: Conrad Parris, whose credits include several high-profile theatre roles, currently has a fixed mid-day slot on 107.7FM during which he consistenly backed the Prime Minister’s stance late last week.

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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28 comments

  1. I posit that dedments be quite appropriately put to use here

  2. Perhaps the real issue is not about the Dominicans coming to T&T but about the distrust of Dr Rowley. Perhaps had he given proper details of his policy, persons may have welcomed the move. On the heels of ‘Fake Oil’, and ‘Ferry Tale’, which were preceded by 90 million powerwashing contract by someone whom Colm may know well, a 12 billion dollar forgiveness to Malcolm Jones, a questionable BOI by the TTDF and the list goes on…perhaps persons seem not be able to trust the action of the Govt at the moment.

    1. According to the proposed immigration policy, not only persons with family members would be allowed entry.
    2. After six months, you will not be readily able to deport persons under UN guidelines – especially if they are claiming refugee status. Therefore the six month period given by Dr. Rowley is unworkable.
    3. For persons without families living here, where will they be accommodated? In HDC houses? In Tunapuna, San Fernando West, or some marginal constituency? Where?
    4. What method is Dr. Rowley using to suspend the Immigration Act as it relates to this policy? Can he then suspend the application of other laws just by his say so?
    5. For persons without family ties here, will the Govt provide food cards, fiscal allowances for personal spending, waiver of payment for utility bills, book grants for school children etc.? How far is the Govt willing to go, it must be stated.

    A proper explanation of the policy should have been given but by all practical means, do assist those in need.
    Are persons aware that when Bret wreaked havoc in South, not even the shelters were opened?

    • Earl Best

      I hear you loud and clear, Truetalk. And agree with much if it. Still, the volume of negative comment and the violence of some of it is nothing short of stunning to me. My wife urged me to “ignore those mean-spirited people.” How I wish her adjective were accurate!

      “Mean-spirited” works for the driver whose way forward is obviously blocked but who nonetheless advances into the path of the traffic going across him at the intersection; this is soulless behaviour, beyond heartless.

      But, as I tell people in my entourage often, I live in the 21st century but I belong in the 20th. Three tunes that capture the tenor of the times after which I hanker (1) “Bring back the ole time days” (2) 3Canal’s “Good morning, neighbour” (3) Stevie Wonder’s “Used to be…”

  3. And let’s not forget the Fairy Fiasco – I cringe every time I hear her mispronounce FERRY!!!

  4. did i read incorrectly that the state sent aid via the TDF and coordinated efforts? http://newsday.co.tt/2017/09/22/coast-guard-provides-swift-aid-to-dominica/

  5. I can’t support the notion of a soulless nation. A few persons who are extremely bigoted and seeing the world in rose colored lens, read the comments, read the comments section, there is a great disparity between the two positions. We have living waters collection of supplies and the Trinidad defense force assistance in this issue. Just a few cynical individuals who are opposed to Dr Rowley, and intentions to target him, they are the losers, love is still alive. Just a few ethnic dinosaurs and a few honoury blacks.

  6. Contrary to some of the comments, as a people we are not soulless or insensitive. Granted all of us are predisposed to become assholes from time to time; some merely require a little assistance from Angostura. Others, do so without any assistance. I indicated in my comments earlier on the divide which the nation faces: the political divide which can be seen in the the ethnic divide, in the east-west, north-south and central divide; and in the religious divide. Some of it can be seen in the social class divide, the complexion division, where the PM tried to state claim of being the “blackest man.” I have argued that such a claim is easy to make when the people with whom you associate are all “light skin.” But perhaps THE major challenge facing this nation is not one of skin color or ethnicity. I have held, and maintain that it is the issue of TRUST. Or more accurately our lack of trust. I for one, and after speaking with many people, in various circles, do not trust anyone, beginning with the politicians, extending to the police, the courts, the health sector (nurses, doctors and administrators) teachers, business people, lawyers. Hell, I have yet to find one institution in this nation where citizens can safely place their trust.
    Such being the case, and having suffered at the hands of the various color coded political parasites over the past 55 years, and now being asked to tighten our belts -again- while we see first hand the “misappropriation” of state funds, used to enrich party financiers and friends of politicians, with no one ever being held accountable….where do citizens draw the proverbial line and say enough is enough?

  7. The people of this country have found it within themselves to send aid however – container after container – barge after barge – plus the DF, CG, doctors and nurses – lets please highlight as well! The heartless few do not deserve one minute in the limelight!!

  8. Earl Best strikes again – well thought through and well communicated. Besides the fact that somebody from one of the media houses will pelt a big stone behind he tail. I do support the PM’s humanitarian gesture to our neighbor and hope that we will open our hearts to them! I will add though, that public life, public leadership and public administration is about detail orientation if effectiveness is important. TT is today a land of many disaffected people – for many reasons – all valid to them because “he who feels it knows it”. I do believe that while being helpful to our neighbors, more thought could have gone into the plan and the communication, because today there are many sensitivities in TT – all warranted. Last evening I received a call from a friend who lives in EDR, asking me if I could help him source some drugs in Houston for his mom in TT because they are in short supply and expensive. When I told him that what he was suggesting would land me in jail. He then said “we cyar get basic drugs here and this man trying to pappyshow people that he care. B boy is about 1000 construction people like me with skills and willing to wuk hard that cyar find regular wuk. If he wanted to help why he didn’t put 500 ah we on a boat, pay we a salary and send we Dominica for 6 month to rebuild the country? Dat woulda help dem and we at the same time.” My brethren wasn’t against the outreach to our neighbors but he also has a problem to solve and felt that several birds could have been killed by this one stone. He is not insensitive, nor against helping, he’s not racist. I do believe that a quick meeting of the minds could have come up with a more holistic solution and that’s important when so many people feel unhelped and helpless in TT.

  9. It seem more people opposed Dr. Rowley good gesture than his “jammetry” line in the TV6 poll. Yep we reach

  10. You forgot the mispronunciation of “gabion”. Twice, by two different people, the report and the presenter.

  11. We are a selfie nation so we can’t see

  12. The State should have been more proactive. Forget what the illiterati say. Rowlers should have offered a few million and dispatched three quarters of the Defense Force there to help them, clean up and rebuild. This measly offer of open homes was meanness from the top.

    • Trinidad and Tobago were the first responders in Dominica with 40 Defence officers a Coast Guard vessel carrying 3 tonnes of relief aid, 2 NSHL helicopters etc. You are either very misinformed or very ignorant

  13. Soulless ppl, compassion has left them

  14. Best strikes the right notes here. This past week, real petticoats expose. People living here, I can’t say citizens, embarrassed the rest of us this week.

  15. The soulless and assholes are in the minority I believe and certainly do not represent the rest of us willing to help in any way we can.

  16. Welcome to the land of the longstanding casual brutality .

  17. “scrunting”…. there I was thinking that us Guyanese had sole dibs on the word :D. Nice write-up.