Sympathy for the devil

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We don’t know his name, never mind that we have heard his voice a few times calling in to some of our OBSERVER shows. We shall hereafter refer to him as ‘the good gentleman caller,’ because he does indeed appear to be a decent sort, well-spoken and well-meaning, but perhaps a bit misguided.  Anyway, this past Friday, Old Years Day, he called in to one of our shows to beg for some sympathy . . .  sympathy for those in high places who have been tormenting us with lies, half-truths, broken promises, and rank disingenuity. Said ‘the good gentleman caller,’ in a swipe at the host, in not so may words, “ . . .You need to be less critical of those in high places; you are dripping with too much sarcasm when you constantly refer to those in high places as geniuses, and you should be a bit more understanding and patient with the authorities, toning down the caustic  broadsides at them.” He was asking for more forbearance on the host’s part re the debacle with the dredging at the fifth pier.

The ‘good gentleman caller’ suggested that the authorities/engineers/ Global Ports had done their best with the dredging effort, and it was inadvertent that they’d come across huge rocks that militated against depth sufficient to accommodate the Oasis class vessels. Say what?! Yes, folks! After three years of drilling and excavating, and the expenditure of millions of dollars, the Oasis authorities told us that our berthing and turning channel was not deep enough for their vessels. We would have to return to square one. Good grief!

The word is that we will have to engage in significantly more drilling, and to that end, we will need harder and sturdier drills. Seems, the equipment that we have been using thus far, is not of the calibre needed to displace the rocks lying beneath the water’s surface in the St. John’s Harbour..

As you can imagine, a goodly number of callers and WhatsAppers were outraged at ‘the good gentleman caller’s’ plea for patience with those in high places for this major league boo-boo. They were not going to abide this misplaced emotion and sentiment. Neither should any of us! For too long, we have put up with mediocrity and downright incompetence from those in high places. For way too long, we have accepted their lame excuses and their refusal to accept responsibility for their failure to deliver. We often give them a pass, with a wink and a nod. As a result, they take us for granted. They continually ignore, harass, victimise, and take advantage of us, and we meekly accept the abuse. Worse yet, we justify and make excuses for our abusers. Think, the Stockholm Syndrome – “A coping mechanism in which individuals who are abused or trafficked, or who are victims of incest or terror, support and display a strange liking for their abusers . . . It has come to describe the seemingly affectionate reaction of some abuse victims in hostage takings and kidnappings . . . It is very closely linked to brainwashing. . . . It is a twisted way in which victims handle the trauma of a terrifying situation.” 

Hmmmmm! Sounds so familiar – so very similar to our political situation here in Antigua and Barbuda, where some citizens are unalterably wed to this ruling administration, never mind its shocking failure to deliver on any of its grandiose promises. Even on its most basic functions, this administration has been “weighed in the balance and found wanting.” From the absolutely horrendous Social Security shortfall, to the horrible water situation, to the horrid condition of our roads, this administration has only served up contempt and abuse. And the apologists find some way to cut the administration much slack. Talk about a personality disorder where we do not think that we deserve better.

There is an old saying from the heady days of the Black Power Movement in the late sixties and early seventies that goes something like this: “Babylon use you; Babylon misuse you; Babylon abuse you; Babylon confuse you, and you still love Babylon.” Remove the scales from our eyes, Lord we beseech Thee. Disabuse us of the terrible notion that we can find common cause, and in some sick way, profess sympathy for the devil. We saw that syndrome in Nazi Germany where men and women of good will got caught up in the euphoria of nationalist pride and a resurgent Germany under Adolf Hitler. They overlooked the many evils in the Fuhrer – his hatred of the Jews, his intolerance, his despising of the handicapped and the sick, his o’er weaning ambition.

More recently, we saw a similar phenomenon in the United States where many good people apologised for, and attempted to justify former President Trump’s misogyny and racism, and overall erratic behavior. He, and his fanatical followers, almost destroyed the Republic on January 6 of last year. Hitler’s Third Reich destroyed Germany, leaving it in ashes. May we learn the lessons of history. An inordinate exaltation of those who abuse us, with willful and wanton apologies for their bad behaviour – their abusiveness, their penchant to cuss-off those who do not agree with them, their callous unresponsiveness to the plight of the people, their boorishness and megalomania, can only result in a catastrophic downfall for them and the people. See History lesson 101.

Mick Jagger, he of Rolling Stones fame, wrote a song in 1968 entitled, SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL, in which he plays the devil cataloguing his many misdeeds, and attempting to justify them and elicit some sort of sympathy. Says he, “Please allow me to introduce myself / I am a man of wealth and taste / I have been around for a long, long years /  Stole a million man’s soul and faith /  And I was around when Jesus Christ had his moment of doubt and pain /  Made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate / Stuck around St Petersburg when I saw it was time  for a  change /  Killed the Tsar and his ministers / Anastasia screamed in vain / I rode a tank / Held a general’s rank / When the blitzkrieg raged / And the bodies stank / And just as every cop is a criminal / And all the sinners saints / As heads is tails / Just call me Lucifer / ‘Cause I’m in need of some restraint / So if you meet me / Have some courtesy / Have some sympathy, and some taste / Use all your well-learned politeness / Or I’ll lay your soul to waste . . .” Sigh! Even as those in high places are asking for some understanding and forbearance, never mind their horrific deeds, they issue naked threats to hurt those who do not comply. Abusers are like that.

Consider, if you will, the many men and women in our society who routinely abuse their wives or husbands, and justify the abuse by blaming the victim – “Look at what you made me do,” and even forcing the victim to rationalise the abuse with the piteous words, “It was my fault,” or “He didn’t mean to do it,” or “He loves me!” or “I have some sympathy; he has some issues!” Good grief!

Antiguans and Barbudans are tired of the verbal abuse and the mistreatment at the hands of this administration. We will not tolerate or make apologies for how badly they bungled the dredging of the St John’s Harbour! It was incompetence of the highest order! And it is a metaphor for the overall unsatisfactory manner in which things are done by this administration. No sympathy from the people for Beelzebub, as Mick Jagger would say.

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