The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – What was the week that was…

Nelson statue on Broad Street defaced on the eve of Independence Day.

Some of my more literate readers will recognize that I have borrowed the title of today’s column from the BBC comedy show of the 1960’s that satirized the week’s developments and news stories. I do not at all possess the satirical or comedic talents of the BBC’s scriptwriters, but some events of last week do merit further exposition. Moreover, with the radio talk shows on a self-enforced break so as to take advantage of the lucrative pre-Christmas commercial offerings, I suppose that people will do a lot more reading of the newspapers and the blogs to keep themselves abreast of local current affairs.

One of the highlights of the week was the public anticipation of the decision of the Fair Trading Commission [FTC] on the legal validity of the SOL/BNTCL merger as proposed. Since I currently have the honour of chairing that institution, I paid especial attention to the populist public discourse on the matter. What struck me most about that phenomenon was the seeming consensus among those who aired their views publicly that the merger should not eventuate into approval by the FTC.

So much so that when one newspaper suggested, even before the decision was published, that the sale had been approved, it provoked comments that I consider defamatory of myself from one source, clearly without the slightest clue as to the law relating to fair competition, that “integrity needed to be returned to the Commission” while making mention of the last two years, the period that coincides precisely with my tenure as Chairman. I have accordingly referred the matter to my legal advisors and will say no more on that for now. His was clearly a purely partisan view, based wholly on the perceived sentiments of those to with which he may be politically aligned.

There seems for some reason to have been a general public anticipation that the sale would be approved or maybe it was the case that there had been some misleading leak of the Commission’s deliberations, since another section of the press, not the Barbados Advocate, also boldly suggested in its Tuesday edition that the “FTC [was] set to okay the BNTCL sale.” On the subsequent publication of the decision to the contrary, that section of the press, to my best recollection, did not even deign to concede the inaccuracy of its Tuesday item. Ah, well.

It is clear, and perhaps understandable, that some members of the public perceived the issue as a partisan political matter. If approved, a victory for the DLP, if not approved, a regrettable loss. This is indeed a pity, but par for the course in Barbados, especially at the current time when much is viewed through partisan lens. I am pleased to relate that both the technical staff involved and the members of the Board of the Commission dealt with the matter judiciously as one of applying the relevant law and economic theory of fair competition to the proposed agreement between the parties and took all relevant admissible evidence into account.

A work of art

Another divisive event that took place during the week was the re-decoration (I put it no higher or lower than that) on the eve of the observance of our 51st anniversary of Independence of the statue of Lord Nelson in Heroes’ Square in the national colours. It seems clear that the occasion was chosen with some care, to highlight no doubt, the incongruity of the substance of the next day’s celebration with the prominence of the Nelson statue in the equivalent of the national pantheon.

In this context, public reaction again varied, though not necessarily on partisan political lines this time. Rather, it lay in the unstated but nearly palpable distinction among those who wondered how we would appear to others if we were to permit the destruction of national monuments with impunity and who therefore appealed for condign punishment for the culprit(s); those who view Nelson as some totem of the whitish Barbadian and for whom his removal would be anathema; those who consider the statue to be a blot on our current national ethos undeserving of such geographical prominence; and perhaps those who do not consider the current placement of the statue to be even worthy of contemporary discussion.

Officialdom, of course acutely sensitive to the majority public opinion at this time, came down safely on the side of law and order and cowered under the promise of a national conversation on the matter; as if these ever result in anything other than an intermittent resumption of the debate every six months or more. Whither, one may ask, the “national debate” on formal constitutional republican status for Barbados? Whither the “national debate” on the execution of the death penalty? Whither the national debate on corporal punishment in schools?” All kicked down the road until the next time with a promise of an imminent national discourse. Given our cultural penchant for talking over doing however, [with of course the exception of the Nelson decorator(s)], it may be just as well.

Of course, the apt democratic mode of resolution would be to refer the matter to a plebiscite but, given the unpredictability of these and the natural fear of a governing administration to have any substantive indication of being out of step with its electorate, this seems most unlikely.

As if this were not sufficiently heady, a local historian managed to introduce another intriguing angle to the entire debate. According to Dr Karl Watson or, at least, the newspaper headline, “Nelson was not pro-slavery”, a proposition not at all proven in the text of the published article that appears to suggest rather that the Admiral acted merely as a tax collector on the island for the British government and points to no utterance of his or other evidence that might support the assertion in the headline. More debate is expected.

228 comments

  • A Quaker in early Barbados was simply a Christian who happened to self identify as a Quaker!

    Barbados still to this day self identifies as Christian!!

    Like

  • Maybe it is that Quakerism was an experiment conducted by Christians!!

    Therefore Barbados was an experiment conducted by Christians.

    Did the Christian experiment fail?

    Like

  • Bushie is actually beginning to feel sorry for John…..
    Karma is a large female dog…

    Like

  • John December 5, 2017 at 6:27 AM #

    The Quakers have a rather int eresting history in the UK. Banks (Barclays), factories (Jordans, Cadbury’s, etc) and public service. They were also pacifists dur.ing World War One.

    Like

  • I agree, pacifism is associated with Quakers.

    … but, some Quakers are not pacifists.

    If you look at John Brown who started the American Civil War, you will find he associated with Quakers and that Quakers went with him to Harper’s Ferry.

    More Americans died in that war than any other!!

    Like

  • Like Barbados, America too was an experiment by Christians, Puritans first.

    No one would say America is Puritan and you won’t find many, if any, who “self identify” as Puritan!!

    Like Quakers, Puritans too were non conformists ….. Christians.

    If you watch how the use of the term white supremacy has developed on BU you will see it really began as “the white mans’ God”!!

    Now, you would have to be complete idiot to walk around berating “the white man’s God”, people will laugh at you and think you mad!!

    The term white supremacy I reckon is the respectable way of attacking the “white man’s God”!!

    Any time you see the term “white supremacy” used replace it by Christianity and consider if the user is being consistent with his/her beliefs!!!

    Likewise white supremacists, replace the term by Christians and see if you can’t read the mind of the user.

    You can spot an atheist a mile away!!

    It remains to be seen if an officer of the court, David Commissiong, or a fellow peer, Richard Drayton will join Sir Hilary and self destruct as well!!

    Like

  • John,

    Why do you waste your time casting pearls before the swine and scum on BU? WHY?

    THEY CALL IT DEBATE AND CHALLENGING.HILARIOUS!

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    You got sympathy to waste, I respect when Karma is in full control and unmercifully relentless.

    Like

  • Georgie Porgie December 5, 2017 at 10:38 AM #

    @John is one of the more thoughtful contributors on BU, but being thoughtful on BU is not always appreciated by the neo-nationalists. It is not part of Bajan debating culture. They like being rude or boasting about academic qualifications.

    Like

  • HAL

    JOHN K IS NOT ONLY A BARBADOS SCHOLAR, BUT HE IS A GENTLE MAN, AND A GENTLEMAN.

    Like

  • Georgie Porgie December 5, 2017 at 11:10 AM #

    It is clear to me he is a gentleman. We can tell some of the .other characters from their
    behaviour.

    Like

  • A statue of Argentine football star Lionel Messi has been vandalised in the capital, Buenos Aires.

    Like

  • Last time BU checked noone is preventing John from posting his views. Just respect that others have a right to disagree.

    On Tuesday, 5 December 2017, Barbados Underground wrote: >

    Like

  • I REPEAT JOHN SHOULD STOP WASTING HIS TIME casting pearls before the swine and scum on BU.

    THAT IS MY VIEW WUNNA CAN CHALLENGE UM OR DISAGREE

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    At least John knows he has 2 readers who actually read his posts right through and all the time.

    Some people can actually do their own research on such important topics and form their own analysis..that is what the internet and some available databases are there for…singular research…and fact checking.

    No one has to believe anything anyone posts anymore…they are free to check the information themselves..to point out inaccuracies and outright lies.

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    A firmal request has now been made by the jead of the reparations committee to Fruendel….to remove the nelson statue…you could not want it clearer than that, get the statue gone.

    Ya can’t on one hand be demanding reparations from enslaver countries and on the other hand honoring and glorifying the statue of a dead demon who fought to keep slavery generational among the descendants of African slaves forever…..with the accompanying brutality and genocide.

    …….the slave laws and slave codes in Barbados was very clear until they were dismantled…..Black people were slaves for life with each birth….

    ……..the demon nelson in statue form gotta go…dont like it, ya know what to do.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/107357/remove-nelson

    “PRIME MINISTER FREUNDEL STUART has been asked to take down the controversial statue of Lord Nelson in the heart of Bridgetown.
    Related articles

    The formal request for the removal of the monument, which has occupied a prime position in The City since 1813, is contained in a resolution presented to CARICOM Heads of Government by the CARICOM Reparations Commission, headed by prominent historian and academic Professor Sir Hilary Beckles.

    Stuart is chairman of the CARICOM Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee on Reparations for Native Genocide and Slavery.”

    Like

  • Ok, so we agree that America and Barbados were both founded on the Bible and were both experiments by Christians in the practice of Christianity.

    Let’s take Richard Drayton’s use of the term “White Supremacy” or “White Supremacist” and substitute them by Christianity and Christian because the first Christians in America and Barbados were white.

    Richard Drayton thus says

    A. “A placard headed “Nelson Will Fall” placed in front the plinth declared: “This RACIST CHRISTIAN who would rather die than see black people free stands proudly in our nation’s capital NELSON MUST GO!! Fear not Barbados the people have spoken. Politicians have failed us. HAPPY INDEPENCE [sic erat scriptum]”.

    sic erat scriptum is latin if I remember right for “The ffing idiots can’t even spell independence”!!

    B. “That is not to say that he was not politically pro-slavery, which in our translation would be that he certainly took CHRISTIANITY as a natural order to be defended”

    C. “This then produced a response from black Barbadians that this, as per some of the white United States conservative mobilisation of the idea of “Irish slaves”, involved a denial of the history of CHRISTIANITY and its impact on unequal wealth and family experience into the 20th century”

    Richard Drayton is thus reporting on what other’s say!!

    Let’s see now what Hilary Beckles says and do the same substitutions!!

    Like

  • RE No one has to believe anything anyone posts anymore…they are free to check the information themselves..to point out inaccuracies and outright lies AND THEY CAN SUBSTITUTE WHAT EVER THEY WANT TO ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN BIAS, AS WHEN ONE LOOK AT THOSE ILLUSORY PICTURES.

    Like

  • Hilary Beckles in his article of 12th September 2017 uses the term.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/letters_to_editor/100433/nelson-fall

    If substituted here is what he is saying:

    “The facts speak for themselves. Nelson, the naval warlord of the British empire by his political decisions, military actions and public speeches, was a vile, racist, CHRISTIAN;”

    His basic premise is fatally flawed!!

    Here it is:

    “GENERALLY, NATIONS SUCH as Barbados that claim ideological roots in the democratic struggles of the working class have opposed publicly revering persons known to have committed crimes against humanity, and those who have assisted them.”

    Barbados, like America, has its idealogical roots in the BIBLE.

    Simple historical fact which even he can’t dispute!!

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    GP…the days of brainwashing and mindwashing people are over, everyone is free to access the FACTS and TRUTH…..or believe whatever rubbish someone else is spewing.

    I go for facts and truth, to each his own…frredom of choice.

    Like

  • “Make America great again”

    This slogan earned Trump the Presidency.

    Let’s put it another way:

    “Return to core values”

    What are the core values of America, and Barbados?

    They are essentially based on the Bible!!

    White Supremacist/White Supremacy are terms which gained recent currency in America.

    They are directed at Trump and his supporters.

    But, there are very few white supremacists, with no power whatsoever.

    Can’t elect a president.

    However, Christians can!!

    They have immense power and numbers.

    So, they become a target.

    But …. they can take it, no sweat!!

    … and they won’t respond in kind!!

    Like

  • I could never understand why some people put so much faith in a book of myth, lies and fairy tales, as well as using it to justify the evil deeds of their ancestors which they now seek to perpetuate.

    Like

  • Can you imagine that the people who want to use Independence by vandalizing a public monument can’t even spell INDEPENDENCE?

    I predict soon we will hear that it was a bunch of white boys trying to make black people look foolish!!

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    Still working on brainwashing the masses of asses,, of which there are plenty, no shortage of those.

    But…the scam is dying.,, the young people are not interested in rubbish, they live in the 21st century world of reality.

    Like

  • Barbados, like America, has its idealogical roots in the BIBLE.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    What an idiotic statement.

    The ONLY thing that these two countries have in common WRT idealogical roots is that those roots were planted by inhuman white people who enslaved and basically exterminated the Indians in America, and ONLY failed to do likewise in Barbados (and South Africa) because Blacks are so resilient that we would probably survive in Hell itself – and some of us would come to sing praises to Satan… Vincent for sure… 🙂

    Just because some idiot MISuses the Bible to justify his WICKED inhumanity does NOT make the bible any root of any shiite society….
    The demons ALSO misused the whips, the chains, the military, the act of rape, the trees – for lynchings etc…. Were THEY also part of our ‘idealogical roots’…?

    Bushie still trying to find out exactly what KIND of scholar John was…..

    Like

  • Barbados, like America, has its idealogical roots in the BIBLE.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Utter garbage, but Barbados and America do have the same ideological roots, and they was crafted right here on the rock: the Barbados Slave Code of 1651.

    Like

  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    Scholar my ass, why am I not surprised is John uttered those lies…ah bet he had the numbnuts who agreed with him too…lol

    Like

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