Minister Denis Kellman Must Apologise to BARBADIANS
The video of a passenger being dragged from his seat by security forces on an United Airlines plane recently evoked world wide public consternation AND condemnation. The revelation that United Airlines resurrected a fine print clause embedded in their terms and conditions of travel which supported they have the right to remove any passenger in the event of overbooking added another perspective to the incident.
Surely there is everything wrong with manhandling a paying passenger who should reasonably have expected after paying for a plane ticket to be extended all courtesy by the service provider. Some have asked why did the airline crew and passengers who witnessed the incident not feel compelled to intervene on humanitarian grounds? A sense of honouring the principles of social justice? What we witnessed on the video -was it not enough to have provoked outrage and disobedience by John Citizens who were in close proximity? Have human beings become so devoid of an inherent basic human quality of doing good that we are unable to act to ‘protect’ a fellow humanoid?
We know the answer why onlookers did nothing. It is because we live in a system that has brainwashed even the very educated- used loosely -that to conform is kosher. It has come as no surprise that United Airlines has settled with the abused passenger for an undisclosed settlement.
We are pleased the aggrieved passenger has probably received millions to salve his feelings. The question should linger with the public though –why have we allowed ourselves to be brainwashed by the system? That we would sit in our seats and allow an innocent man to be dragged along the floor, cuffed, bloodied with a broken jaw the result.
This week a sitting member of parliament branded David Comissiong an enemy of the state, his only ‘crime’ that he retreated to the Barbados courts to seek a judicial review of the decision by the Prime Minister of Barbados as minister responsible for Town and Country Planning to approve the construction of the Hyatt hotel on Bay Street. One should reasonably have expected that such labelling by a representative of the people should have been roundly condemned by all Barbadians. After all, Comissiong’s ‘crime’ is opened to be committed by ALL citizens under the Constitution of Barbados.
The little we know of Comissiong is that he vacated the comfort of his middleclass nest to associate and fight for causes of the underclass. It seems distasteful that during the week we have been given a public holiday to celebrate our national heroes named and unnamed we are forced to defend a citizen advocate whose only crime is that he sought justice by pursuing a legal avenue available to ALL citizens.
Similar to the bigger issue the United Airlines incident raised so too the labelling of Comissiong as an enemy of the state. Why have we allowed the political class to disrespect the people they are elected to serve? Given the public outrage at the offensive labelling of David Comissiong by Minister of Housing Denis Kellman should he not have felt constrained by now to offer an unconditional apology? Further, should the Prime Minister even if he is gazing at the clouds from Mount Olympus demonstrate leadership by censoring Kellman? What message is the political class sending by attacking citizens who have done no wrong from the floor of parliament? Yet the Prime Minister felt duty bound to defend Speaker Michael Carrington who withheld hundreds of thousands of dollars from a septuagenarian client.
Oh the irony and hypocrisy!
Why is it important for Minister Kellman and the government to apologize to Comissiong? All of us have to be guardians of our democracy. Our words and actions must support the ideal that every man and woman has the inalienable right under the system of democracy we practice to act within the boundary of the law.
Citizens of a democracy live with the conviction that through the open exchange of ideas and opinions, truth will eventually win out over falsehood, the values of others will be better understood, areas of compromise more clearly defined, and the path of progress opened. The greater the volume of such exchanges, the better. American essayist E.B. White put it this way: “The press in our free country is reliable and useful not because of its good character but because of its great diversity. As long as there are many owners, each pursuing his own brand of truth, we the people have the opportunity to arrive at the truth and dwell in the light….There is safety in numbers. – What is Democracy