Monday, March 28, 2011

KILLING THE MESSENGER? The famous English playwright, George Bernard Shaw, once said "The reasonable man adapts hinself to the world: the unreasonable one persists intrying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man". Like most people, I was surprised by the comments of the Chairman of the Police Service Commission made before a Parlaimentary Committee on Friday to the effect that there was a dearth of East Indians in the hierarchy of the Police Service. Mr. Mohammed quoted facts and figures to support his statements. The problem was that the way he presented his case clearly suggested that the fact that there was a dearth of East Indians at the top of the police service was because of latent racism in the Service and in past Governments, not to mention past Police Service Commissions. Because of this Mr. Mohammed has been pillioried in the local media. Indeed, many (black) politicians have been howling for his resignation and all three black members of the Police Service Commission (PSC) chose not only to distance themselves from their chairman's remarks but to disagree publicly with him. The Minister of Health (who is herself of mixed ancestory), sitting on the Committee at that time also chose to disagree with the embattled chairman who has found himself out on a limb almost completely on his own and looking very much like an unreasonable man. Indeed, it was this fact (i.e., the fact that he sounded so unreasonable) that caused me to pause and look again. Because, let's face it: either what Mr. Mohammed said was (a) true, or (b) partly true,or (c) completely false. Well, we ought to have no trouble in dealing with the erstwhile Chairman if the statements were completely false. He ought to be fired! Immediately, if not sooner! If the statements were completely false then they are dangerous, subversive and bordering on the seditious. There can be no argument about that. End of discussion! But, what if there was some truth in the statements? Certainly, the facts seem to suggest that there is a racial problem in the hierarchy of the police. The fact that there is almost a complete lack of Indians in the top ranks of the police service seems to suggest that Mr. Mohammed might have a point. Of course, there may be explanations other than racial discrimination that could throw light on this matter. But what they are, I, for one, certainly do not know. I can say, though, that what Mr. Mohammed has uttered so loudly and so passionately has been muttered about for at least the last thirty years in bars and private places by many East Indian policemen who have believed (rightly or wrongly) that they were being discriminated against. While this is the first time that I have heard these complaints aired in public it is not the first time that I have heard them. And by saying that I have heard them before does not necessarily mean that they are true ... it simply means that the complaints are not new. So, where there is smoke is there fire or simply a smoke making machine? As a society we should not be so ready to shoot the messenger, even when he comes with a point of view that on the face of it might seem to be unreasonable. (Remember Shaw's edict about the unreasonable man.) We should be prepared to listen carefully to the message and deal with it ... one way or the other. Mr. Mohammed has let this particular Genie out of the bottle. It cannot be stuffed back in so easily by simply firing him. If he is to be fired it can only be because what he has said is completely, but completely untrue. However, if, as unpalatable as it might be to contemplate, there is some truth in what he has said then we should be bold enough, and brave enough, and smart enough to deal with the problem head on. Or, we could go back to simply doing what we do best .... and that is shoot the messenger!

1 comment:

  1. It is not what was said , it is how it was said