As much as we may wish it to be otherwise, Gary Griffith is not the answer to our prayers but the symptom of our problems.
In our greatest moment of fear, we have manifested and brought him to life as protection against the very forces we have created. Like Phoenix, he has risen out of the debris of our collapsed institutions, as powerful and as large as the fear stalking the land.
He has no rival for our gratitude. More than anyone else, he represents our last hope for protection from ourselves. Throw in a few extra-judicial killings and he would be unbeatable at the polls.
Like money, fear knows neither race, religion nor class. Cornered by criminals, we have at last found national unity in a leader promising to deliver us out of the valley of death into which we had happily walked with our eyes wide open, looking for profit.
There is no doubt that Police Commissioner Gary Griffith is the people’s man of the moment. Those who were looking for protest against Thursday night’s police killings found instead the loud cheering that erupted when he was introduced as Super G at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night.
It was an ovation that the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition could only dream about. After many flirtations with potential strongmen, Trinidad and Tobago has finally found a law-and-order candidate in the innocuous-looking former army captain.
If, like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, he were to campaign on the promise of killing off thousands of criminals to end crime in six months, he would have our vote in a heartbeat. Calling for due process is too unpopular a cause to champion, and, for the desperate, too much of a luxury.
For a while there it was beginning to look like he might be all bluster and gun-talk. After all, tackling earnest university students is hardly the kind of challenge that should be distracting the attention of a self-proclaimed man of action. But then came the events of Thursday night to turn the tide of public opinion.
Here indeed was The One we had been waiting for, a leader bold enough to declare “One shot, one kill.” Social media went into such orgasmic over-drive that anyone tempted to disagree quickly chose the wiser course of silence.
The Prime Minister, misreading the winds of change, bestirred himself at 3am to issue a fatherly statement of concern for young lives lost to crime, implicitly accepting the police account. He could have saved himself the trouble.
The crowds were with Super G, baying for more blood. Not to be outdone, the media was on the case, owning the police storyline, unbothered by such professional humbugs as attribution of source.
This path is all too familiar for us to plead innocence. Randolph Burroughs and his Flying Squad taught us well what police can do. This time, let us not clothe ourselves in pretensions of democracy. Let us be frank about our preference for the old, colonial order of authoritarian rule—as long as its power is not trained at us.
As we have been demonstrating for 56 years, the burden of democracy is too much for us. The savagery out of which we were born does not allow the room for taking a chance on real change. Better to hold on to the rotting legacy of the old and dying order with its self-contemptuous education system, biased justice system, pauperising economic system and degraded politics of non-representation.
We can continue holding onto all of these, assured that when all fall down, there is always the option of Super G, charging in like Don Quixote to save us from ourselves.