In the aftermath of the Charlottesville protest in the USA President Donald Trump offered a strange explanation that equated the moral right of a White supremacist group to demonstrate in public to another group exercising a moral right to protest against the hate group.
In recent days there has been elevated chatter in the social and traditional media space concerning another contentious issue tracked to the mouthing of the President of the United States. Those of us eavesdropping on the US Cable newsfeeds continue to be bombarded by sound bites including terms like ‘moral equivalency’, ‘moral agency’, ‘moral authority’ to list three popular ones.
Of interest to BU was the point made by Trump that the White supremacist group was issued a license to demonstrate and therefore had a LEGAL right to demonstrate.
Moral authority is authority premised on principles, or fundamental truths, which are independent of written, or positive, laws. As such, moral authority necessitates the existence of and adherence to truth – Wikipedia
It seems unfathomable a president of the United States in 2017 would be less than equivocal in his condemnation of a White supremacist group even if they had a legal right to protest in Charlottesville last week.
This issue although raging in the US should bring into focus for onlookers the extent a political leader must combine political, intellectual skills with moral leadership to be effective. There is voluminous writings on the subject. Wonder what former President Obama is thinking when he reflects on throwing Reverend Wright under the bus.
In this intellectually engaging book [The President as Leader], Hargrove argues that successful presidents are those who combine political skills with intellectual and moral leadership. He examines three distinctively different presidencies—Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan—in revealing, exceptionally well written profiles. Strongly recommended – Choice
What if the same arguments are used to criticise Trump to explain Prime Minister Freundel Stuart handling of the Michael Carrington matter? Speaker of the House Michael Carrington was forced to respond to a court order to pay monies owed to a 70 year old client. Monies that should have been routinely transferred to his client WITHOUT any need to resort to court litigation. Here is one of many memorable responses at the time uttered by Prime Minister Stuart:
Clients can complain for you about almost anything . . . A client once reported me to the disciplinary committee because he said that whenever he called my office I was in court, and I wondered whether instead of being in court he wanted me to be in a brothel. So you really cannot control what clients can complain about – Barbados Today
From all reports Speaker Michael Carrington complied with the court order and therefore satisfied the legal ask of him. However the BU household has promoted the view that there is a moral component to the transaction that has not been satisfied given the Prime Minister’s unwillingness to sanction Carrington in his role as Speaker of the House of Assembly.
The concern about the escalating gun violence should not be discussed in a vacuum. A wholesome society must be defined by adherence to relevant laws AND a moral code of behaviour. There can be no dispute that the Speaker of the House violated a basic moral code of behaviour. What message did the Prime Minister send to the country?