Bahamas Headed Towards The ‘Dark Ages’

Friday 26th, April 2013 / 09:17 Published by

In 1989 an Iraqi writer named Kanan Makiya published his ground-breaking book “Republic of Fear: The politics of modern Iraq” under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil.  An updated edition with a new introduction was published in 1998 by University of California Press with his real name.

Makiya was afraid to print his real name in the 1989 edition for fear of reprisals from the Saddam Hussein regime.  1989 was just two years before Hussein invaded Kuwait and suffered the dire consequences for his ill-advised and foolish decision in the First Gulf War.  Interestingly, Iraq spent nearly the entire decade of the 1980s fighting its Islamic neighbor Iran.  Iran was led at the time of the so-called First Persian War by Ruhollah Khomeini, better known as Ayatollah Khomeini.  He ruled Iran from 1979 to 1989.

Saddam Hussein served as president of Iraq from 1979 to 2003.  As you can see, both dictators began ruling their respective countries in 1979.  Saddam Hussein’s ruthless government was disbanded after Iraq was invaded by a coalition led by the United States and Great Britain in March 2003 in the Second Gulf War.

In the 1998 edition, Makiya analyzes the transformation of Iraqi society under the auspices of the Arab Baath Socialist party between 1968 and 1998.  The 1991 Gulf War and the ensuing years had emboldened Makiya to drop his pen name.  By 1998, Saddam Hussein’s regime was not as strong as it used to be in the 1980s.  Nevertheless, to the ordinary Iraqi citizen and to the Kurdish people, the regime was still a force to reckon with.  Saddam Hussein and the Baath party engendered fear and suspicion among Iraqis for decades.  Many were afraid to voice their opposition to the regime for obvious reasons.  Even a scintilla of dissent was brutally crushed.  The Baathist regime had an elaborate spy network throughout the country.  Secret Baathist supporters and other Iraqis who were sympathetic to Saddam would rat on their own coworkers and family for simply speaking out against the regime.

On page 58 of the 1998 edition of “Republic of Fear”, Makiya stated that as terror struck deeper into the population – and no longer solely at its margins – withdrawals, cynicism, suspicion and eventually pervasive fear replaced participation as the predominate psychological profile of the masses.  Today, it would appear that fear of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) has become pervasive throughout The Bahamas.

Free National Movement supporters as well as PLPs who are civil servants are reluctant to publicly oppose the Christie administration for fear of losing their jobs.  A police reservist told me last week that she along with the other reservists on the island of Grand Bahama haven’t been paid for the first three-and-a-half months of 2013.  She said that she is afraid to come to the press with this issue because she might lose her job.  She has sought remediation from government officials, but no one seems to know what is going on.  She is not the first police reservist to tell me this.  Another reservist told me over the Easter holidays that he hadn’t been paid for the year as well.  The PLP campaigned on believing in Bahamians and putting Bahamians first.  So why are so many afraid to criticize the party in a public forum?  Why are so many PLPs afraid to openly oppose their own party?  I find this deeply troubling for a country that is on the verge of celebrating 40 years of independence.

I have never witnessed so many Bahamians who are afraid to offer constructive criticism of their own government in a public forum.  This never happened under Hubert Ingraham while he was prime minister.  Yet PLPs had the temerity to call him a dictator.  At least under Ingraham one could criticize him and still have a job to go to the following morning.

Prime Minister Perry Christie must assure Bahamians, FNMs and PLPs alike, that freedom of speech can coexist with his administration.  He must live up to his 2002 promise not to victimize Bahamians.  I believe the reports of victimization since May 7.  However, I am going to give Christie the benefit of the doubt.  I don’t believe that he was behind any of these incidents of victimization.  I implore the leader of this country to rein in his loyal supporters who are alleged to be reeking havoc in the civil service.  Too many innocent Bahamians in the civil service are being threatened by PLPs.  FNMs pay taxes too.  If FNMs cannot enjoy the full benefits of this country, then the PLP government should stop collecting taxes from them.

This country has matured politically since August 19, 1992.  We are not going to stand idly by and allow anyone to take us back into the Dark Ages.

By:  Kevin Evans

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