Independent, but...

Letters to the Editor

Independent, but...

Friday, August 07, 2020

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Dear Editor,

Jamaica is 58 years old and is at a critical point in its personal history and global history.

The Government's strategy to use maximum force to fight crime via states of emergency and annihilation of major violent criminals is accelerating. The unintended consequences of this strategy will be a more stratified society.

Criminals were not born bad, but were created by circumstances. Fighting crime by eliminating key felons is like cutting off a head of a hydra; another head grows back, maybe even two.

On August 3, 2020 the Government and Opposition signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU), named the National Consensus on Crime. This is a positive step, but my preliminary deduction is that it is more political posturing by both political parties. When I heard Prime Minister Andrew Holness say one of the major spears of their plan is to fight corruption at all levels I became sceptical, because no system deliberately destroys itself; and I assert that the very political system in Jamaica breeds corruption. For example, to win political office a person needs a tremendous amount of money, which they get from backers who usually get favours in return. The interest of the financial elite and the regular citizen usually collide, and politicians support their campaign financiers. Many supporters of both political parties have been caught eating ferociously at the public expense.

Secondly, on the cultural front, the recent court ruling indicating that wearing dreadlocks, once it's not for religious reasons, is not a right is emblematic of the challenges in Jamaica. The real reason the court upheld the school to exclude a student from that place is a polished one. Talking about hygiene and “junjo” is code-speak for antisocial and disruptor, in my view.

In Jamaica, many times image is more important than reality, both for the ruling elite and ordinary people. Essentially, the school wants to keep its high-class image which to them means excellence, and the ghetto image of dreadlocks is counterproductive, in my view.

Jamaica is full of contradiction. The country is known globally for reggae music and Rastafarianism. It is a good marketing tool, but certain sectors see it as unsophisticated. How is it we're an independent nation but still answer to masters, with a head of state being a queen who is a foreigner.

Still, though, for me Independence is a good thing, although imperfect.

Happy Independence, Jamaica!

Brian Ellis Plummer

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