Tuesday, April 16, 2024

EDITORIAL: ‘Yardfowl’ here to stay


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MOST PEOPLE WOULD have simply laughed and moved along on hearing Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s comments about his disdain for the designation applied to those rabid supporters of political parties in Barbados.

But the media attention and talkback on his comments about what he sees as the disrespect shown these loyalists has become more than a humorous quip. Let’s not turn it into an absurdity.

The loathsome use of “yardfowl” has really never been meant to describe the average member of any political party in Barbados. Most people who are card-carrying members of these institutions are often committed to a cause of socio-economic change. Every politician knows that all too well. They, like any other Barbadian, also know the “yardfowls” in the political landscape.

We are not unique in the branding of these loyalists to a political cause. Recently the term redneck has re-emerged in United States, clearly referencing those southern conservatives driven by others. And while it may not be flattering, certainly the term “teabagger” used for associates and friends of American politician Sarah Palin does not connote the die-hard supporters in either the Barbados Labour Party or the Democratic Labour Party.

The people Mr Stuart seeks to defend are a special breed, generally nurtured by the politicians to do their bidding. It is not a new issue nor is it unique to Barbados, even if the term is to this island.

The messianic politics which dominated the Caribbean following the watershed period of the 1940s, and indeed up to the 1980s, threw up a number of revered leaders who practised politics which did not encourage critical thinking. Truth is that even today many politicians and political parties across the region would rather have most people simply lapping up what they offer without question.

So “yardfowls” are generally not the people who will attend the party caucuses or the constituency meetings to ask questions and seek answers. Instead, you would expect those so designated, even by leading members of the political parties, to be the leading hecklers of opponents and to be mindlessly singing the praises of those whom they favour. Their refrain: “Talk yuh talk, I wid you all the way.” They represent a unique vociferous brand.

That is why no one should look for political correctness in condemning the “yardfowls” terminology as it will only be self-defeating. Really what is required at this time is neither groupthink nor linguistic change but social and economic change.

The Prime Minister as a man of letters and a possessor of good command of language would be quite familiar with noted Caribbean author V. S. Naipaul and his writings on this issue.

We would want to agree with Mr Naipaul and urge Mr Stuart to stop worrying about the term “yardfowl” because just like “pailing cock” it isn’t going nywhere. Surely, Mr Stuart well understands who the shoe fits in the local political lexicon.


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