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.
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.
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.
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!
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.