Thursday, February 29, 2024

ALL AH WE IS ONE: My Integrity


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Don’t involve Rasta in your say say
Rasta don’t work for no [petty-bourgeois political party] – Bob Marley (with apologies)
When I agreed to serve as a columnist in THE NATION, I did so fully aware of the Caribbean’s hostility to independent academic voices. I understood that our political class, is as a whole, anti-intellectual, vindictive, insecure (given its origins in poverty), paranoid, open to issuing threats and pursuing acts of material deprivation and character assassination against the fearlessly independent types.
Given that group’s hostility to objective thinkers and its own incapacity for deep thinking, its instinctive response is to place all independent voices in the camp of the rival political party. Indeed, it is a tactic that has resulted in the silencing of 99 per cent of our learned population, many of whom treat cowardice as a virtue. I have never been among those.
For these reasons, once I agreed to serve as a columnist, I adopted a healthy distance from all politicians, yet, fully expecting that the reflexive label of partisan bias would be applied to stain my academic reputation.  
Today, given recent comments following the Barbadian election, I am compelled to make a public declaration of all contact with Barbadian politicians, out of respect for my readers and in preparation for future battles in defence of my integrity.
Unlike in St Lucia, anyone who accuses me of being allied to, or working on behalf of a political party in Barbados is a purveyor of lies. The most basic commitment to any political cause is to vote. I have never voted in Barbados.  
Since my residency in Barbados, I have delivered a formal lecture to only one political party – the Democratic Labour Party in opposition, at its lunchtime series. No one accused me of bias.  
Since becoming a columnist I have avoided private meetings with politicians, except on one occasion when Lynette Eastmond, through a student, met in my office to request my participation in a seminar series. I politely refused. I have socialised at the residence of Harry Husbands on one occasion and had drinks once with Trevor Prescod with whom I share ideological interests. These three apart, I have not conversed with any Barbadian politician beyond five minutes.  
I have exchanged emails with Chris Sinckler and Edmund Hinkson and received a telephone call from Owen Arthur following separate articles. I have known Gregory Nicholls since UWI days, and we always exchange pleasantries. In the course of my academic and public professional life, I have met briefly, Mottley, Byer-Suckoo, Todd, Blackett and Kellman.  
Like Bob Marley, please mark my identity: “me nah have no fren, in high society”.
I have never been paid to express an opinion on anyone’s behalf, and support no party in Barbados.
I will allow no one to destroy the academic independence which I hold dear.
• Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specializing in regional affairs.

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