AS we continue on our race to the bottom, today we should all stand firmly in support of Prime Minister Allen Chastanet.
When Dr. Tennyson Joseph initially made the association of Prime Minister Chastanet with President Trump in June last year, he suggested that they were both businessmen-politicians legitimized by the same global forces. In an article at that time, “Star Struck”, I questioned this suggestion of Trump’s legitimacy, pointing out that Trump was not popular in the U.S. (at the time he had a 70% negative rating) and asked what the preferred occupation was for entrance into the political arena as businessmen seemed to have been ruled out.
We have had no guidance on this but note that according to the report of Dr. Joseph’s presentation in St. Vincent, he did indicate that political leaders were to have a certain “nobility of character”, even as he summoned the “left” to reassert itself. We do not know what “nobility of character” means in the context of political leadership; neither do we know how Dr. Joseph is supposed to recognize this trait.
But as time has elapsed, the character of Donald Trump’s presidency has become clear. We have yet to see anyone pointing to Trump’s supposed business acumen as having any bearing on his presidency. While his pro-business agenda would have attracted the business community during his campaign, eight months into his presidency that community has distanced itself from Trump in the aftermath of the recent Charlottesville tragedy, citing Trump’s initial reluctance to denounce the racism evidenced by this event.
This has been the dominant characteristic of Donald Trump’s presidency — racism. That he came from a business background has been of little significance and those who, therefore, wish to associate Allen Chastanet’s Prime Ministership with Donald Trump’s Presidency must know precisely what they are doing and which card they are calling, even as they dress that association up in socialist dogma.
It is offensive, as former Prime Minister Anthony spent the better part of a year prior to the last general election demonizing Allen Chastanet and instructing the public that he must never be allowed to become Prime Minister because of his family name. The final atrocity did not come from Dr. Anthony but he had prepared fertile ground for it and just prior to the election, a Labour Party stalwart openly declared on the Labour platform in Desruisseaux that the people of that constituency should not want any white man to represent them. If Prime Minister Chastanet is sensitive to issues of racism today, he has our sympathy.
The forces which gave rise to Donald Trump in the United States had little to do with business and they are now fully on display. We hear of the “alt-right”, see the emergence of “neo-nazis” and the re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan with prominent Klansman David Duke recently admonishing Trump following Charlottesville, telling him that he should remember that it was white Americans who had put him into office (Guardian, August 13, 2017). Are these the forces which Dr. Joseph thinks has propelled Allen Chastanet into being St. Lucia’s Prime Minister?
And so, we are equally offended by our local academics who, rather than condemn the allegory, have retreated to the refuge of academic licence and given Dr. Joseph a free pass.
But we are a lucky people, as we have unacclaimed academics walking among us, and it took Monsignor Dr. Patrick Anthony only a few seconds of a television interview to explain in very simple language that racism had always existed in America and that a manifestation of that racism was what we were now witnessing in circumstances where extremists felt emboldened.
Dr. Joseph is entitled to his political theories on class but his association of Allen Chastanet with Donald Trump is baseless. More so, it is odious. Where does all of this place Sir Julian Hunte, former longstanding leader of the St Lucia Labour Party, in the category of politician, businessman, or both?
While we continue to support Dr. Joseph’s right to speak freely, we hope that other academics will challenge him. But in the absence of that, we hope that the University will afford Dr. Joseph ample opportunity to demonstrate that he is not involved in race-baiting as he continues to associate Allen Chastanet with Trump.
A much more interesting argument has, however, emerged as a result of this, as recently a caller to a talk show on which the issue was being discussed pointed to the failure rate of business ventures. He left it there and we assume that he was suggesting that with the high failure rate of new businesses, we would be foolhardy to select a businessman as our political leader. He may have a point, as generally, less than 20% of new businesses survive and this allows some to describe those entrepreneurs as themselves being failures.
But what happens when a Government fails? We look at this next week and examine how our Constitution again fails us.