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FOR YEARS, I’ve been watching two thoroughbreds in the race for modern life’s greatest irony but, before I could pronounce between – 1. the descendants of slaves advocating the whip; and 2. Muslim women praising their veil – a third frontrunner came along which threatens to pip them both at the post: the dark horse of Trinidadian “intellectuals” supporting Donald Trump.
In Barbados, media houses have been too broke to commission public opinion surveys on any subject for years but, by what passes for my memory, in the last one, in about 2010, a solid 94 per cent of Bajans strenuously supported the whipping of children in schools. Many newspaper columnists were relieved by the correction of the moral decay that had been reflected in a poll the year before, in which support for beating small children had plummeted to an all-time low of 86 per cent: whip the children into shape and you’ll have no problem with the adults; it has worked astonishingly well in Barbados for 400 years.
Trinidad abolished corporal punishment in schools but a recent letter to the Newsday editor (19 May 2018) still confidently put forward the great advantages of beating the bad behaviour out of children. There has been no Trinidadian “debate” on the subject I’ve eavesdropped upon – I don’t have the heart to take part – in which obviously and demonstrably damaged adults boast about how much licks they got as children and how well they turned out. Nowhere in the civilized world do grownups claim the right to physically beat children in a manner they would never dream of beating adults – or face jail if they did; and everywhere in our world –barbarians making as eef they were civilized, in monkey suits and all – so-called holy books are quoted, proudly, to justify devilish acts.
Again, a shockingly – and depressingly – high percentage of women in headscarf or hijab claim that it “frees” them. The last time I gave up trying to argue with one such, she challenged me to declare her unintelligent. You cannot convince someone who’s probably more intelligent than you that she’s fallen for a self-destructive con. She can never see her subjugation because she has eagerly acquiesced in it, and knows damned well she is no fool. Until the mote falls from her eye, the headscarf will stay on her head, the sinful locks of the temptress will be constrained, and she will be “free” to be a feminist. Muslim “feminists” in hijab probably take the irony win “by the nose”, since there appear to be no descendants of slaves who advocate the whip while actually in minstrel-type blackface.
But Trini intellectuals have recently thrust their own noses into the photo-finish; and it is hard to imagine someone who gains less from what he champions than Third World black- or brown-skinned men who see, in the current occupant of the White House, someone who may yet “shake up the system” to the benefit of anyone else other than himself; least of all them.
You can follow the recipe that allows miserable white American blue-collar workers to vote for a billionaire who held on to his daddy’s money by stiffing people like them: combine their sense of being forgotten with their loss of their own ideal of themselves, stir in their poverty and lack of education, and a man who boasts of grabbing pussy can be just seen as an anti-hero. Give them a few slogans to chant and a visible minority to direct their resentment against and throw them the odd symbolic bone and they’ll vote for you again, even if they have lost their Medicaid because of you.
Again, you can understand the rich and the superrich of Trinidad, or anywhere, being, not just approving of, but gung ho for, President Jackass. He is the poster man-child of avarice. The longer he stays in the Oval Office, the greater he legitimises the moral sleight of hand from which they extract the salt of immense wealth from an ocean of poverty: as long as you can hide behind Trump, you don’t have to explain why you have a penthouse in Manhattan and your entire workforce lives in Government plannings.
But what do Trinidadian “intellectuals” have to gain from supporting Trump? There are many exceptions – the surgeon violinist, the barrister poet, the business tycoon who goes to Italy for the opera – but, largely speaking, to pursue the life of the mind in Trinidad is to almost guarantee loneliness and poverty, for there is no value here for “culture” that you cannot wine to. To think freely here is to scrunt for your rent. Trini intellectuals, ergo, live off the fat of the mental land without ever acquiring real estate of their own. And why would people who will never own a new car support a man who can only make their own lives worse? And, worse, look stupid?
Stand back, women in hijab beating their children with sticks; we have a clear winner.
BC Pires knows you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows