Dr. George Brathwaite

The George Brathwaite Column – Fearmongering and Security at our Peril

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite

The discussions and general discourse emerging in Barbados over the past few weeks, have opened more than a can of worms. Readily coming to mind are disturbing claims of the ‘rapid rate at which people are dropping dead’, the ridiculous rumour that toxic proportions of lead are in Barbados’ water supply, and the successful challenge to Government’s move to fingerprint Barbadian citizens on exit and entry at our ports.

Clearly, fearmongering and security (or insecurity) have together unsettled many persons in Barbados. The claims (false and ridiculous) have given rise to levels of fear among the population. These fears have exposed widespread ignorance existing within our society due to the proverbial procrastination that has become characteristic of the Freundel Stuart-led administration. Indeed, I am not entertaining anything terrible to the Stuart regime, but while officials may want to be cautious, particularly on life and death concerns, they must also be aware that the absence of information invites speculation and formulations of conspiracy.

In other words, and given the absence of preliminary reports or formal explanations from the appropriate authorities and agencies, fearmongering has rushed to the forefront of national discourse. It should be understood that fearmongering is the action of deliberately arousing public fear or alarm about a particular issue, and this discursive practice usually comes in the form of rumours and deception. That being said on fearmongering, we must still be able to examine the issues with a more incisive definition of this thing we call security.

Accentuating an academic premise on our understandings, I share with readers some paraphrased sentiments excerpted from my doctoral thesis. My studies have convincingly led me to view security as a ‘speech act’ and fundamental to the construction of threats. In the thesis, I stated that, “security cannot be fixed a priori in its definition.” The manner in which “one conceives security is constructed out of the assumptions” (however explicitly or inexplicitly articulated) that make up one’s world view.

Furthermore, there is a complexity regarding what is security because the term security “covers a range of goals” so wide that, “highly divergent policies can be interpreted as policies of security,” and in real terms, security “points to some degree of protection of values previously acquired.” In addition, there is the ‘common terminology’ indicating that security is “about being protected, being free from danger, and feeling safe from threat,” and one can further make the determination that “security theory and security practice are always reflexive” thus feeding back into each other.

While it may be fitting for Barbadians to draw inferences from what happens in the USA or Europe for example, there are some things that just will not gel regarding our determination as the things constituting a security problem for Barbados. We ought not to limit our thinking as to what constitutes security on the basis of what occurs elsewhere (Flint, Michigan for example). Nor should Barbadians take for granted for whom and by whose account a security problem exists.

Further to these points, ‘a one-dimensional understanding is inadequate’ regarding the issues that have fermented in Barbados over the past few weeks and that are causing concern in the society. Do we though our governing officials apply a security solution that is clearly controversial? In fact, the very option of invoking the word ‘security’ means the deployment of exceptional measures – beyond the ordinary – to combat whatever circumstances that have come to emerge alongside the discourses of danger and the need for security responses.

In addition, security narratives “are ostensibly written to provide safety, to counter danger,” and in practical terms, can also be seen as “attempts to impose order and certainty,” while being “understood as a discursive practice.” Put differently, when the public is presented with an issue – lead in the water and sudden deaths – that can be interpreted as a looming danger, and there will be need for particular measures to be implemented.

As in the case with possible acts of terrorism and the need for fingerprinting at our ports of entry and exit, it indicates that the government and other officials are acting in a way as likely to ward off the threat or imminent danger. Surely, the boldness of the Freundel Stuart administration wanting to proceed with fingerprinting in spite of the verbal protests of individual citizens and groups believing that their rights may become infringed, was a step into exceptional politics.

Prime Minister Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite, in being adamant that fingerprinting was the policy direction of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government, were of necessity seeking public support to legitimise their actions. Their insistence of introducing measures outside of the ordinary, notwithstanding the unconstitutional nature of their actions, was framed as a security reaction to something that could possibly spell danger for Barbados. Hence the talk of safeguarding national interest, although no credible threat was evident.

But examining the expanded exaggerations leading persons to draw unsubstantiated connections between people dropping dead and their water supply, was tantamount to ridiculousness of the highest order. To my mind, the only culpability for the current administration was its culture of procrastination and the reluctance to provide timely leadership and information to the general public.

Certainly, there is little merit in governing officials sitting back silently while persons hastened to speculate that Barbados’ water supply was somehow tainted and could have contributed to the deaths of a few people whose medical histories were not made privy to the general public. Barbadians kept hearing silly talk; and the rumours of danger were eventually circulated and shared on social media. All this action came without the authorities moving sufficiently quick – even through preliminary reports and updates – to ward of the spread of fear among a society requesting information and answers.

Truth be told, Barbadians in recent times, have increasingly become suspicious of people and things. Perhaps, they are more prone to be sceptical of political elites, particularly when members of the medical profession already have tied a faltering economy with stressors likely to cause morbidity or death. In some ways, I share the view and have written elsewhere that “resource-scarcity and economic recession” have become synonymous with the DLP, while stress can cut down physically strong men and women. Inherently, economic and social nuances form part of a subtle messaging that connotes elements of danger within the Barbadian society.

It is nonetheless unacceptable that the fearmongering recently being spread, either out of malice or ignorance, should resonate so acceptingly within the contours of our nation. Be it the new water meters or the quality of the water, it seems fallacious and ludicrous to draw conclusions without provided facts. It is my contention that Barbadians will indulge in fearmongering and ‘invited’ security, but this at our peril. The Barbados Water Authority (BWA), the Ministry of Health, and the General Secretaries of the two political parties have done the right thing in attempting to get plausible and accurate information into the general public. Better late than never, although, late responses can really threaten our national security.

(Dr. George C. Brathwaite is a researcher and political consultant, and up until recently, he was editor of Caribbean Times (Antigua). Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com ).

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39 Comments on “The George Brathwaite Column – Fearmongering and Security at our Peril”

  1. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 8:06 AM #

    The reality is the government does not have any credible information that the Caribbean, let alone Barbados, is in any danger or threat of danger from anyone other than the con artists posing as tourists and the drug mules…and the police deal efficiently with those criminals

    The Patriot Act was instituted in the US ONLY AFTER there was a perceived threat which most people still believe was manufactured to start wars…death = money.

    Sane, intelligent people do not run around ignoring the constitution to violate their citizen’s rights, unless they have other very sinister motives.

    We know the sewer rats in parliament do not have a high level of intelligence….so this farce of fingerprinting citizens and detaining them and refusing them entry if they refuse, was definitely sinister in nature.

    Like

  2. E. Walrond July 5, 2016 at 8:08 AM #

    Lack of information always breeds speculation, whether it out of fear or mischief. In many households the water is brown particularly after a water stoppage. One is assured that this is rust from old iron pipes, by the repair crews. We accept this, run water till it is clear, change the filters for the umpteenth time, yet the lingering thought is what colourless danger lurks particularly for those without filters. The Ministry of Health should at least be showing the public that someone is monitoring the water for harmful toxins. The simplest way of answering the speculation would have been able to say we have tested the water at these sites and these are the levels of iron, lead, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sargeant July 5, 2016 at 8:23 AM #

    Aspiring politician George Brathwaite tries to discount a rumour and then gives it life by mentioning it repeatedly then compounds it with the following

    “These fears have exposed widespread ignorance existing within our society due to the proverbial procrastination that has become characteristic of the Freundel Stuart-led administration. Indeed, I am not entertaining anything terrible to the Stuart regime, but while officials may want to be cautious, particularly on life and death concerns, they must also be aware that the absence of information invites speculation and formulations of conspiracy”

    Now I will be charitable and assume that “ignorance” in this sentence means ‘lack of knowledge’ rather than “stupidity” but should a Gov’t be in the business of responding to every rumour no matter how irresponsible that makes it way to social media? Good thing we didn’t have social media back in the days of de baccoo,de heart man or de steel donkey.

    Which brings me to this point all uh dem people drop dead because de baccoo get outta de bottle……. Leh me go and put dat on Facebook.

    Like

  4. Pachamama July 5, 2016 at 8:30 AM #

    @ George Brathwaite

    We would have thought that your training could have anchored this article to wider problems. Problems we don’t want to see as security issues but which nonetheless have been injuring Bajans on a daily basis.

    This country could import 100,000 chemicals or additives, from pesticides to inputs which are suppose to make things taste better.

    We have all types of sub-sectors preparing food for public consumption which have contributed to the country being the amputation capital of the world.

    And we could go on and on adumbrating security exposures

    In neither case are there sufficient mechanisms in place to thoroughly interrogate these present risks to national security.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. George C. Brathwaite July 5, 2016 at 9:01 AM #

    @ Pachamama

    Do not worry about my training (I assure you it is quite sound), but you have done just what you suggested. Good that you are thinking and can anchor. Now that was easy, what can we do about it without trying to shoot down the messenger?

    Like

  6. Pachamama July 5, 2016 at 9:55 AM #

    George Brathwaite

    We are not necessarily and permanently oppose to you. For we have some appreciation for your writings.

    For we must confess yours is amongst the few that we would really read, as opposed to merely scanning etc. Yours desire that much, we think.

    However, sometimes you give us the impression that you are more guided by current events in ways which may miss the bigger picture.

    Please be invited to rise about tribal affiliation and deploy your immense powers of analysis to synthesize these deeper meanings.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Willie July 5, 2016 at 10:12 AM #

    It boggles the mind that Mr. Brathwaite never fails to display his vanity and egotism, as in, “Do not worry about my training (I assure you it is quite sound)”. Saying such with reference to oneself says a great deal about the commentator.

    Like

  8. Donna July 5, 2016 at 10:29 AM #

    Well said, Pacha!

    Like

  9. Hal Austin July 5, 2016 at 11:32 AM #

    Steady on your thesis, George. You should end copies to every home in Barbados.

    Like

  10. David July 5, 2016 at 12:11 PM #

    Why must we always expend energy on attacking the messenger? Shred the message and be done with it. And of course we will let us steam from time to time.

    Like

  11. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 12:24 PM #

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/05/comissiong-takes-aim-at-gollop-over-fingerprinting-comment/

    People on the island really need to listen to these layers who are pulling out all the stops to educate them so they do not find their basic rights eroded or completely taken away by some very deviously evil criminals in parliament.

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/05/dems-longer-fit-to-lead-charges-hinkson/

    Really, really listen to these lawyers.

    Like

  12. David July 5, 2016 at 12:43 PM #

    Who heard Gollop on the talk show today? He said the matter Gazetted was a mistake.

    Like

  13. millertheanunnaki July 5, 2016 at 12:44 PM #

    @ Sargeant July 5, 2016 at 8:23 AM
    “Good thing we didn’t have social media back in the days of de baccoo,de heart man or de steel donkey.”

    There has always been social media. All that has changed is the technology or method of communication.
    I am sure you are “young” enough to remember the standpipe encounters to spread gossip and village chatterbox the ‘go-to’ woman or man in the district to get the latest ‘news’ or the rum shop debates that GP used to enjoy before turning to another form of ‘spirits’ for salvation.
    It’s just a matter of speed. It used to take weeks to send and receive a letter now that same letter can be sent in a matter of seconds.

    “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.

    Like

  14. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 12:55 PM #

    Lol….who gazettes anything as a mistake and then DONT FIX IT…well their MISTAKE eent to the Supreme Court and was deemed NULL and VOID….they are not suitable to govern, particularly making a “mistake”…that not only violates the rights of the citizens but spits in the face of the Constitution created to protect the citizens.

    Can’t they read…I rest my case.

    ce qui se passe autour de revient plus difficile, Miller … beaucoup, beaucoup plus difficile , pour cette bande de crétins inutiles .

    Like

  15. Donna July 5, 2016 at 1:12 PM #

    “Oops! Ah make another mistake!” Doctor Ah Ah, the dentist. By de time dem dun meking mistakes we en gon got one teet in we mout.

    Like

  16. Hants July 5, 2016 at 1:13 PM #

    Are you all satisfied with the methods of “identification” at our ports of entry ?

    Any concerns about proximity to Trinidad ?

    Like

  17. millertheanunnaki July 5, 2016 at 1:35 PM #

    @ David July 5, 2016 at 12:43 PM

    Why is this bully-shitter trying to justify the acts of an incompetent administration?

    How come the proposal to introduce the biometric regulations is just an idea?
    Is it true that the necessary equipment to implement this measure had already been acquired?

    How come the same so-called expert in the law is not singing from the same hymn sheet as the man who has ministerial responsibility for immigration matters and national security?
    Is there anyway we can have access to the minister’s contribution to the debate in Parliament on this matter?

    And just to think you guys would soon have to address this self-appointed Lord Chief Justice as “Sir Hal” come November, 30th.

    No wonder the CCJ is not on that quack’s Xmas card list!

    Like

  18. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 1:43 PM #

    No Hants…there is security currently in place and guns, drugs, drones…. and rotten chicken wings still make it in from across the Atlantic…so what is there not to be satisfied about.

    I was speaking to a friend of mine in London this morning and she was left speechless to hear that some lowlife in Barbados is importing chicken wings from the UK…she has lived all her life in the UK and wants to know why anyone would want to import wings from there to Barbados…I did not bother to mention to her that no one in the government can say who imported the chicken wings and who gave them permission to do it….ya see the issue now.

    There is facial recognition scanning available that is not as intrusive as fingerprinting, the subject does not even know they are being scanned…the UK has 6 million cameras positioned to pick up anything and everyone, roughly 1 camera for every 11 people for a population on 67 million.

    Barbados is and will always be a 2×4 island with less than 300,000 people….what’s so hard about continuous scanning, particularly the airports, seaports and employees…it will create jobs.

    The dimwits in parliament were up to something evil with fingerprinting, they were working against the citizens and it backfired..as for that sewer rat Gollop…every dog has its day.

    Like

  19. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 3:00 PM #

    The worst thing both governments could have done was indulge the customs officers at the sea port and airport in refusing to have cameras put on them at the ports of entry to monitor their activities. …both governments condoned it now they cannot lock up the gun runners and drug dealers, not even the UK rotten chicken importers can be arrestd because they pay big money to have their products pass through….the government still has not said who imported the chicken illegally or arrested them….no good governance.

    That is what happens when ya allow large scale criminality for bribes.

    Like

  20. Donna July 5, 2016 at 3:07 PM #

    Hants,

    No, we are not satisfied and yes, we are concerned but that is not really the point.

    Like

  21. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 5:00 PM #

    http://ow.ly/ydRz301Xhfw

    The savage beasts and animals who use enslaving others as part of their religion are alive and well on earth, maybe this article will open the eyes of the greedy fools in parliament to certain realities.

    Like

  22. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 5:05 PM #

    Donville Inniss better not get any ideas from that link.

    Like

  23. Artax July 5, 2016 at 8:55 PM #

    @ Donna

    That was not nice, behave yuh self.
    Hahahahaha

    Like

  24. Artax July 5, 2016 at 8:59 PM #

    Sorry, Donna, that comment was meant for WW@C.

    Like

  25. Well Well & Consequences July 5, 2016 at 10:38 PM #

    Lol..Art, ya have to guide these politicians, they have not yet been civilized and would easily slide back into their basic animal instincts.

    Like

  26. Well Well & Consequences July 6, 2016 at 5:54 AM #

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/82928/bizzy-boost-foreign-exchange

    This concept was copied from Canada, a good concept but not one created by Bizzy, as he would lie to Bajans, attemot to lie to Caribbean people. and pretend it’s his idea and the first if it’s kind in the world. I am sure Trinis already started something similar, …there are many who live in Canada, one of my family members use these spaces.

    In case he trues to dupe Bajans into thinking he is doing them some great big favor….Bizzy can never repay Barbados or it’s people….he cannot live 400 years.

    Like

  27. Well Well & Consequences July 6, 2016 at 7:06 AM #

    http://www.barbadostoday.bb/2016/07/06/no-to-cari-exit/

    Why was this even in discussion at Caricom level by these stupid men who are still 150 years post slavery, unable to think for themselves.

    What progress did they implement and will now enforce for Caricom to make the islands more independent ans self-sustaining as opposed to dependent on Europe and importing garbage from iutside the region to feed their people and feed NCDs to burden their healthcare systems, that is what the people should be hearing….idiots.

    I bet they never even remembered that…

    Like

  28. Well Well & Consequences July 6, 2016 at 11:14 AM #

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/chilcot-report-inquiry-tony-blair-iraq-war-weapons-of-mass-destruction-evidence-verdict-a7122361.html

    As we all know, governments take great pleasure in lying to their people, even after they have bee found to be liars.., they still lie…Tony Blair, biggest example of a liar.

    Like

  29. Colonel Buggy July 6, 2016 at 4:29 PM #

    Does the Prime Minister really think that all right thinking and observant Barbadians are going to swallow his mouthing that the unemployment figure is down to around 9%. Given the fact that just last week ,over 3000 school children have graduated from secondary school, with little prospect of the majority of them, finding legitimate employment, and only a few of them are going to move on to tertiary education.
    Does his unemployment figures take into account only those who previously had jobs,and not those who never held a job in their lives?
    Any morning, in fact any time of the day, I drive out of my gap, I am confronted by some 20 or so young men, ranging from 16 years to 30, just sitting under the tree ,wasting their lives away. In the next village are two other lots, numbering in the region of 25 each. And this same picture is evident through out the length and breadth of Barbados. There are far more people now seen on the block, than those we see in agriculture, road maintenance , and those involved in carpentry or masonry, to name a few . Did the Prime Minister not listened to the young men in his constituency , and the constituency next door, who are embroiled in deadly gun fights, and who are crying out for jobs, other than ” a man jucking a gun in their hands and ,and telling them to bring him back $500, forcing them to go and rob 3 or 4 innocent people” (Their words, not mine) Do you sir, call this employment?
    Are your figures also inclusive of the increasing amount of self employed women and young girls who have found a niche as crack salespersons on the Bushy Hill.

    Like

  30. Alvin Cummins July 7, 2016 at 3:26 PM #

    BU readers,
    Re: Water Testing. Potable water from our piped water is tested WEEKLY by technologists at the Winston Scott Polyclinic, for Bacteria Fungus and other Microorganisms. Water from the acquires, that is piped island wide, is tested by the laboratory at the Barbados Water Authority for metals and organic and inorganic contaminants. Sea water from different beaches island wide are tested weekly at the Laboratory at the Polyclinic. Barbadians need have no fear of the quality of their water. This information has been made available many times through the GIS. Of course if you do not see it on television you would not know about it.
    Education is the key, and information is available. One just has to ask a question and not be accusatory.
    w

    Like

  31. Alvin Cummins July 7, 2016 at 3:31 PM #

    Colonel Buggy,
    “the increasing amount of self employed women and young girls who have found a niche as crack salespersons on the Bushy Hill.”
    Have you done a survey? How do you know? Have you counted them? How many were they one month ago compared with last week? It is alright to toss around this information to the uninformed and of course expect them not to be challenged. Bring your figures.

    Like

  32. David July 7, 2016 at 3:32 PM #

    @Alvin

    Thanks for the information. Do you know what standards are adhered to and the oversight body responsible for ensuring the standards are met?

    Like

  33. Alvin Cummins July 7, 2016 at 7:30 PM #

    @David,
    All testing at the laboratories adhere to accepted international standards for ALL tests done. Not only are there Internal quality controls done, but the laboratories, register with and contribute to external quality control testing, in which UNKNOWNS are sent from the external sources for testing and the results are compared with the KNOWN results, and records are kept. In other words The Standards of the American Society for Microbiology,(ASM) or the American Society for Clinical Pathology, (ASCP) would send samples for testing and the results are compared. Each contributing laboratory has to satisfy the submitting laboratory (ASM or ASCP) that the results are correct compared with their own results. So not only are there internal checks but also adherence to external quality controls. In addition; especially where tests for some clinical conditions; dengue, Zika, etc, this testing is done mainly in Trinidad at the Regional Laboratory that services the entire Caribbean. Sometimes where local tests are done, random samples are sent overseas to compare results. Government laboratories adhere to strict standards. I might add that in order to maintain recognition and licensing, surprise inspections are conducted periodically by the registering body overseas. This monitoring and quality control occurs in all laboratories; Biochemistry, hematology, Pathology etc. It may not be broadcast; maybe it should be done more often, but standards have to be maintained for the laboratories to be licensed.

    Like

  34. David July 7, 2016 at 7:40 PM #

    @Alvin

    did you see Hallam Hope’s objection at the FTC forum recently?

    On Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:30 PM, Barbados Underground wrote:

    >

    Like

  35. E. Walrond July 8, 2016 at 6:12 AM #

    It is very interesting to hear that our water is so extensively tested. What the public does not know is what the test results are, and what do they mean for their health. Isn’t it extraordinary that in the midst of all these concerns the BWA is asking for one’s ID for the privilege of paying one’s water bill. We are putting into place all the trappings of a ‘police state’ where every transaction must be accompanied by two forms of ID, soon to be more with the proposed fingerprinting to enter your own country. Let’s be clear the banks will follow and will say they have been ordered to do so. Soon we will have a country where identity theft is the norm for all your information would have been put into the hands of the vast ‘army of occupation’ and its willing surrogates in the banking sector and any business who feel they can get away with it. I can hear it now ‘any problem can be addressed in the court’, but when will that be?

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Well Well & Consequences July 8, 2016 at 7:49 AM #

    Very prophetic words…I only got the email on the new banking system in the line, this morning.

    http://ow.ly/RQak302338Q

    Like

  37. Hants July 8, 2016 at 8:10 AM #

    RESIDENTS OF Spring Farm, St Thomas are disgusted by what is coming out of their taps but the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) will be launching an investigation.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/82994/dirty-water-woes-spring-farm#sthash.1erhqtnt.dpuf

    Like

  38. David July 8, 2016 at 8:34 AM #

    @E.Waldron

    Your comment is on target. It is where BU was prodding Alvin to explore.

    Like

  39. Well Well & Consequences July 8, 2016 at 9:03 AM #

    http://ow.ly/onvA3023e4e

    When you keep provoking people, violating their rights, reducing them to nonhumans…this is the final results.

    http://ow.ly/w4yW3023en6

    Because of this, unfortunately, some good cops will pay for the actions of the nasty ones, who are racists and coldblooded killers, it will be hell to calm this down.

    They mayors of these cities need to start doing their jobs and stop enabling killer cops.

    Like

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