The Nation Is Watching Its Leaders

The Nation Is Watching Its Leaders

What’s the old political cliché? The voice of the people is the voice of God? Well if that statement is to be upheld by our political leaders we would have less divisiveness and strife over poisonous words spewed at each other’s opponents, whether intentional or not. The latest episode in the ongoing saga of distaste is the recent reference to the Prime Minister as an ‘Oreo’ by the Opposition Leader. In case you were unsure of what the term denotes, please allow us to explain. An ‘Oreo is a chocolate cookie sandwich with white cream filling produced by the American company, Nabisco. Over the years, it’s name has been used as a derogatory reference in the United States especially, to ‘a black man playing white’ in local parlance. And as expected, many are frowning at the Opposition Leader’s recent reference to Dr. Rowley as such.

Condemnation has been swift on social media and from several business organisations saying that the remark was offensive and Mrs. Persad Bissessar could have made her point without reference to a racist gesture. One daily newspaper said racist and sexist comments should not be coming from the mouths of politicians who occupy leadership positions in the country. Neither the Government nor Opposition it says, could point fingers at each other however, as they are both guilty of making irresponsible comments. It says ‘while there is a culture of picong in this country, it does not give automatic licence for insults and disrespect’.

Another paper said the Opposition Leader had crossed the line and there can be no public interest justification for the comment. It feels that she has not only engaged in a disappointing lapse in judgement but has also slandered members of her own party by suggesting that they all shared her views. A third daily said the reference to Dr. Rowley as an ‘Oreo’ reeked of the same desperation for a cheap laugh as the sari skit staged by the PNM some weeks ago. It says the remark was all the more offensive as it rolled off the tongue of a woman who was once the Prime Minister and aspires to return to the office.

Our leaders must understand that their words and actions are more influential than they sometimes foresee. And influence in this instance is not only positive. References from a leader on a political stage that appeal to a captive audience sometimes have an opposite effect on others who are not necessarily opponents. Extending an apology to even one person who may be offended is not a sign of weakness or inferiority in a politician but the mark of an individual with admiration for his people and respect for his country.

Web Master

September 14th, 2018

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