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Dear Editor: Twisted facts and excessive emotion; a rebuttal of racist view of Williams’ PNM

“In psychology, there is a concept called the Drama Triangle. It highlights three drama states an individual can traverse when emotions run high: The Persecutor, the Victim and the Rescuer. […]

“It is my belief that the author wrote the article while in the Persecutor’s role. Proof of that is his use of the word ‘hate’ over and over again. The article is chock-full of emotion, with facts hard to find. What facts I stumbled on were twisted and stretched.”

The following Letter to the Editor, which purports to be a rebuttal of Ramdath Jagessar’s response to Ashton Ford on the Indian influence within the early PNM party, was submitted to Wired868 by John Campbell Beausejour of Mayaro.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, the late Dr Eric Williams, (left) hosts late Beatles pop star John Lennon.
(Copyright Noel P Norton)

I can see many angles to tackle a rebuttal to this article. But I will leave that up to Mr Ashton Ford. I will only make a few comments to help clear the air a bit.

Let me say this up front: The issues or main issue, racial politics, highlighted in the article, can be addressed and redressed if we pursue once and for all meaningful constitutional change, change that must reflect the cultural plurality of the electorate of T&T. And to this cause, Mr Basdeo Panday has been very vocal.

Having said that, I must confess—if ‘confess’ is the right word—that I come from a family that supported the PNM from Day One. My uncle was a founding member and he served as minister of works for donkey years. We are a Mayaro family, a country family. I remember when there was no pipe-borne water in Mayaro—we took baths at the standpipe or with a bucket of water in the yard—and no electricity. The nights were dark so we told stories of soucouyants and lagahoo and ladiablesse until we were frightened enough to fall asleep.

The roads were bad; some are still bad. The Ortoire River flooded ever so often—I lost over 15 goats in one flood. So I can easily say the troubles the author talked about in Penal, we certainly experienced in Mayaro. In fact, most country districts, whether dominated by Africans or Indians, can lay claim to those troubles.

In psychology, there is a concept called the Drama Triangle. It highlights three drama states an individual can traverse when emotions run high: The Persecutor, the Victim and the Rescuer. To resolve any issue with someone who “lives” in that triangle, one has to not get sucked into it—in other words, state the facts and stay away from emotions and emotive words and phrases. I will try to remember this as I continue to comment.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago citizens march for racial unity on 12 March 1970.
(Courtesy Embau Moheni/NJAC)

It is my belief that the author wrote the article while in the Persecutor’s role. Proof of that is his use of the word ‘hate’ over and over again. The article is chock-full of emotion, with facts hard to find. What facts I stumbled on were twisted and stretched.

Let me explain: Very early in the article, referring to the early days of the PNM, the author stated that the African population was a minority one. He didn’t support this with any figures. But he was able to find figures to show how many Indians migrated from T&T to Canada and the USA. The 1946 census shows a total population of 56,4000, 47% African and 35% Indian. The 1960 census shows a total population of 83,4000: 43.3 % African and 36.5% Indian.

I can only assume he set this up this way so it could support his claim that only by the use of thiefing voting machines and illegal constituency boundaries that a minority PNM could win elections, which is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy approach, as I see it.

The author talked about hating Eric Williams and hating the PNM—Plenty Nigger Men. I remember those words clearly. My uncle was one of those Plenty Nigger Men. I remember that the Indian men that worked for my father and uncles were referred to by other Indian men as ‘monkeys’ or ‘slaves’—always derogatory terms.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago’s first prime minister, the late Dr Eric Williams, (far left, foreground) and long-standing Cabinet member the late Kamaluddin Mohammed (far right, foreground) flank late Cabinet minister Errol Mahabir (second from right, foreground)

Besides the troubles (which most other country areas shared) the author encountered while growing up in Penal, he offered no other reason why he hated Eric Williams except the fact that an urban-based party was spending and developing its urban base—although he didn’t phrase it that way.

He didn’t mention it but the article is in the same vein as those that went before that pointed to Eric Williams’ use of the term “recalcitrant minority.”

And I feel strongly that that is the basis of the author’s father’s hatred of Williams and the hatred his father handed down to him so the hate can live on.

The fact is, the entire hating of the PNM by the Indians—or should I say the Hindu population—was (is?) based on a mis-reading of the politics of the 1950s and 1960s. Ferdie Ferreira explained that, after defeating Albert Gomes and the Party of Political Progress Groups (POPPG) in 1956, Williams thought they would put their tails between their legs and disappear from the political landscape. But in the Federal Elections of 1958 two years later, they resurfaced as victors.

This was too much for Williams. He lashed out at those French Creoles, that “recalcitrant minority” for trying to keep the status quo (neo-colonialism) alive.

Photo: Django (Jamie Foxx) rescues a slave and administers a flogging of his own in the movie “Django Unchained.”

For the Indian electorate to have “swallowed” such a misrepresentation of the facts—a confirmation bias to me—they would have had to believe that their parties, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of 1956 and the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) of 1958, were seen as threats to Williams’ PNM during those early days of party politics in T&T. It simply wasn’t so.

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain. [..] Hatred, which could destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated and this was an immutable law. Those are the words of James Baldwin, penned in 1943.

Mr Author, you might be surprised to know that you are not the first person to “discover” that Dr Williams was not a national leader. During their turns at the crease, neither Basdeo Panday nor Kamla Persad-Bissessar was either. The literature on cultural plural societies like T&T all shares that same view about such leaders. Here you are correct and Mr Ford is wrong.

T&T is a cultural plural society, a society divided along cultural group lines, the two major cultural groups being the Indians and the Africans. The African cultural group, in general, supports the PNM and the Indian (Hindu?) cultural group supports the UNC.

Clientelism is something of a political cancer and it infects the party bosses and the party supporters alike. Any party in power of a cultural plural country will be infected.

Photo: Former prime minister and current Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
(Courtesy Caricom.com)

Believe me, when the UNC was in power, they were so infected (especially KPB’s Administration) that they ran a high fever throughout all their terms in office. The UNC surprised me, you see, because they knew about the cancer and its effects, having observed it for years on end of PNM rule. But when they got in, not one of them volunteered for political chemotherapy.

Sir, to learn about the destructive effects of this political cancer called clientelism, consult the works of Dr F.J. Furnivall and Jamaica’s Dr M.G. Smith, our own Dr John La Guerre and Guyana’s Dr Ralph Premdass, to name a few. While you are at it, you might want to research the Moyne Report of 1945. In it, you will find where the Indian population stood in terms of the African population and the French Creole/White population.

I think if you read it with an open mind, you might come to the conclusion that the French Creole/White group was more racist than any PNM administration every was or ever will be.

One last thing: How can a man with so much hate be so proud of his Canadian citizenship, Canada being such a peaceful and hate-adverse country?

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  1. Eric Williams was first and foremost a historian and political scientist. Therefore his strategy to gain political control must have informed him that he had to form a national party that drew support from the two major races. Why is this tag of him being anti Indian? Why has the PNM gained most of the support of the Afro Trinbagonians while the PDP, the DLP and now the UNC is supported by mostly Indo Trinbagonians? Butler united Indos and Afro Trinbagonians. NJAC called for “African and Indian Unity”. Which group responded and what group created the division? Let us research the reasons for ethnic polarisation in our country in an honest and historical context in a factual and evidential context. Then we need to create national unity with an understanding that we harmonize , have mutual respect or continue to degenerate under the deceit of our own ethnic solidarity despite inefficient and corrupt political governance.

  2. I think its coming from a minority from both groups. What T&T desperately needs is a Truth and Reconciliation commission to pull together the truths, people’s experiences, recognise the discrimination and marginalization where it existed, recognise also that when political parties evolve wittingly or unwittingly along racial lines, effectively pitting one group against the other, we shouldn’t be surprised at where we are. It is a mess. We also dont have the financial resources for yet another commission. We are not alone. While we vent our spleen, the damage being done continues to drive people (of both major races, how’s that for irony) abroad. A Guyanese friend recently joked that maybe inviting 100,000 buziness-minded Chinese immigrants might solve two problems in one- wake us up from this political danse macabre and get development going before we become failed states. It shows how bad it is that it didn’t sound an entirely unreasonable proposition.

  3. This post has been one of the classics with writing style and factual content that I would rank among the best in this group. But it is still only a blunt rebuttal of the venomous race-hate rant that it responds to. I live in London where, as a Black man, I have lived and worked alongside Asians (Indians). Even though the combined Asian population here is twice the combined Black population, I have never read or been in earshot of the level of racist posts as from the certain members of the Indian community in this group lately. This passive tolerance of racial abuse by some Indian posters marks a path to our national ruin.

  4. Its only who know and have eye to see, see, and ears to hear, hear and knowledge of truths write.

  5. Thank you very much Mr. Campbell Beausejour for bringing sanity and intelligence to the discussion. I was very alarmed and deeply disturbed by those who sought to legitimize Mr. Jagessar’s racist rant and ‘spewage’ by saying ‘they need a space’ when such expressions are vapid and bereft of sound facts. It always amazes me and I agree with the author, that many of those(no matter one’s ‘tribe’) who shout ‘from the rooftops’ hatred towards their alleged racist perpetrators, are themselves racists in their treatment of the ‘racial other’ when they have certain power to effect meaningful change.

  6. I doubt that Jagassar fellow will return to counteract. When challenged with facts and historical data and clarity of thought, the propagandists and revisionists, usually disappear into the night or go elsewhere to spread their lies and innuendos

  7. Armchair psychology apart, I quite like this article. John is onto something because he begins by wanting balanced discussion supported by some analysis. The strongly biased positions from Ashton Forde and Jagessar we need to get rid of