Editorial: The silence of the fans

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The silence was deafening! And it made for extremely painful listening on yesterday’s VOICE OF THE PEOPLE (VOP) broadcast. That broadcast was an invitation for the happy campers here in our fair state to list all the magnificent accomplishments of these past five years under this administration. The idea was that, with all the pridefulness being displayed by the administration for its marvelous and wonderful stewardship, callers were supposed to wax eloquent on air with a recitation of those outstanding accomplishments. And the exceedingly positive impact that they have had on their lives.

Alas and alack, no such calls were forthcoming! The phone lines went dead! Well, that is, except for those contributors who called with mocking recitals of how bad things had become under this administration. Seemed, no one, not even the incorrigible supporters of the government, could come up with a few projects that this government had conceived from scratch and brought to fruition. It was a dark day in radio! So much so that, the hosts seemed at a loss to explain the dearth of choir members willing to sing GLORIOUS THINGS OF THEE ARE SPOKEN and THE HALLELUJAH CHORUS. Indeed, one host expressed his profound embarrassment at how few of the faithful were willing to come forward and bleet GLORY LAUD AND HONOR to high heaven!

But that was to be expected! A few weeks ago, when the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) was celebrating its March 21, one-year re-election victory, a ranking member of the party was asked to, in not so many words, list the fabulous accomplishments of his administration these past five years, and the good ranking member, with a rambling preamble, and much ‘hemming and hawing,’ went around and around the acacia (cassi) bush with a surfeit of blither and blather and stuttering and stammering. He seemed to be ‘scrunting’ to come up with the magnificent things that had been accomplished by his own government. Indeed, the good ranking member even seemed to be fumbling and searching for good things that he’d done in his very own constituency. How pathetic! Needless to say, it was not the good ranking minister’s finest hour! Neither is this the ABLP’s, for that matter!

Anyway, as the VOP show went on, with nary a word of praise and commendation, it began to occur to the hosts that perhaps there are many ‘fans’ who are feeding at the trough covertly, but do not wish to sing for their supper overtly; after all, they do not wish to be publicly identified as canaries and yellow-bellied sap-suckers. Seems, they have some sense of shame, and they are no longer willing to purge their consciences and utter lies, half-truths and party propaganda! Not publicly! Maybe via WhatsApp, but not via the telephone! Good grief! One could cut the silence on VOP with a knife!

But as usual, you will find the misguided faithful. One such paid party apparatchik offered early to speak of the West Indies Oil Company ‘purchase’ by the government as well as the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Bank (ABIB) ‘rescue.’ He then struggled to come up with other fantastic accomplishments, but after flailing for a few minutes, he resigned himself to  . . . yes, you guessed it, . . . blaming the UPP. It was quite sad! Another of the faithful tried to come to the rescue of his comrade with a tongue-in-cheek and sarcastic talking point recital of warmed-over UPP failures, but that too fell flat. One lady spoke of the APUA amnesty as “one good thing,” but then she almost brought the listenership to tears when she spoke of living hand-to-mouth, what with poor wages and rising costs. It was a moving and stunning indictment!

And she was not alone in declaring that she was not better off yesterday than she was five years ago, never mind the delusional self-congratulatory hyperbole and flights of fancy! Apparently, so too was the caller who declared that this government had not done “zilch!”  And the other who spoke passionately about the government that had collected “the most money and misspent the most money.” And yet another who spoke of the government’s extraordinary accomplishment of “poverty, hardship and laws broken.” And still another who spoke of the wonderful accomplishment of “destroying Barbuda” and “sufferation!” And still another who mentioned, with dripping scorn, the fabulous accomplishment of “the ABLP headquarters on Nugent Avenue, the Ebenezer Mall and the new home at Jolly Harbor.”

Clearly, a paraphrased version of Sir Winston Churchill’s famous war speech is apropos, “Never in the field of human politics has so little been accomplished by so few, at the expense of so many, for so long a period of time.” But not to worry, folks! There is a whole lot that is being “endeavoured and achieved,” you just can’t see it! Never mind, being vocal about it! Hence, the deafening silence of the fans! Remember, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen!” (Hebrews 11:1)

Yesterday’s astonishing moments of silence in radio can be summed up in the words of the bard himself, Sir William Shakespeare, “[The faithful fans] speak an infinite deal of nothing, . . . their reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff. You search all day ere you find them, and when you’ve found them, they are not worth the search!” Hark, the crickets!

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