The facts speak for themselves
EACH POLITICAL PARTY has a right to push their agenda by whatever means possible within the law. That is why the increased use of social media – Facebook, blogs, chat rooms, Twitter, email alerts, and so on – is understandable. But like everything else in life, it is not only what you do that matters but how you do it.
Is it really necessary to sink so low as to characterize opponents as incompetent nincompoops to make your point? Why, to score political points, is it always necessary to insinuate that opponents are corrupt and dishonest? And why is it necessary to spread vicious rumours about opponents where their sexuality or relationships is made a talking point?
I have great difficulty with this, but I recognize it is an unfortunate part of our political culture and our society as well.
As individuals, we love to gossip about others and impute negative motives especially when the person has a different viewpoint. Politically, this is magnified. That’s why people have a lot of animosity based on personal dislike rather than on any sound philosophical position; why the facts at the heart of issues are often obfuscated or ignored, and we deal with the personalities involved; and why whenever analyses are done, those listening or reading often criticize the speaker and attribute all manner of bias and disingenuous characterizations depending on their own perspectives.
Despite this, the facts are the facts. No matter what spin is put on an issue, if something is wrong it is wrong, and if it is right it is right.
I find it impossible to support individuals and policies which, after my research tells me they are not on the right path. in the political sphere, this is why no matter how the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) tries to spin it, the building of the Greenland Landfill was a multimillion-dollar mistake. And they should admit this. Likewise, this Government’s austerity programme is hurting more than helping the economy and the society. And they need to recognize this and make adjustments to get this economy growing.
Thankfully, time has a way of proving the merits and demerits of analyses and, as the folly of Greenland has been exposed, so too will the flawed approach to this country’s fiscal crisis.
Consistent with my philosophical moorings, I have grave difficulty in the manner both political parties and/or their supporters are portraying their opponents on social media. The venom being spewed is divisive and serves only to undermine confidence in the integrity and ability of those who put themselves forward for public service.
The FireFreundel Facebook page is a prime example. Here, either the BLP or its supporters have produced a page where text, cartoons and pictures are used to show why Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) should be kicked out of office. Stuart and his colleagues are lampooned and the comments from anti-DLPites are often outrageous and defamatory.
Though the unprincipled belief that “all is fair in love and war” is the basis for such acts, I believe it is wrong to portray Barbados’ Prime Minister, whomever the holder of that office may be, in such ugly terms. It is disrespectful of the office. The BLP supporters behind this page should rely on the facts of Stuart’s stewardship to persuade voters whether his leadership is worthy of another five-year term or not. They should never sink this low to sway people in order to win any general election.
Likewise, the DLP or its supporters don’t need to ridicule Opposition Leader Owen Arthur and his BLP colleagues on the Facebook page King Arthur’s Treasure Chest. Let the facts speak for themselves.
Two other social media platforms being abused for political ends are email alerts and blogs. One is usually bombarded by alerts, often from those you never gave your email address to, containing nonsensical statements. The perpetrators of this don’t seem to realize that this medium loses its effectiveness by their persistent distribution of useless statements. They would do better to minimize these alerts to say something noteworthy.
As for blogs, I have stated in this space already that I have no time for any medium where people can use anonymity to lie, defame and seek to destroy your character. All these anonymous assassins do is spread misinformation in society with their mischievous and often dishonest statements. This activity does not contribute to nation building in anyway. It does not seek to put issues on the table for them to be addressed in a responsible manner.
At the end of the day, folks, there is only one Barbados where all of us have to live no matter what side we support – politically or otherwise. If we continue to pull down each other, what type of country can we really expect to build?
• Sanka Price is the SATURDAY SUN editor. Email him at [email protected]