In a letter published on the eight of December
in Stabroek News, one R. Soobrian asked in reference
to widespread racial violence; “Are the talk show hosts,
the lunatic fringe racists and their supporting cast using Dr.
Gibson's book to take Guyana down this fiery road. Is Dr. Gibson's
book, The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana, intended
to be the spark?”
The answer is, arguably, yes. In of itself, this
book was written to prepare and provoke a particular section of
the Black community into action against Indian interest, from
the supposed “Indian” government to impoverished Indian
estate villagers. Conniving and corrupt, it was not done to demonstrate
research skills or to enlighten Blacks. It is not about Hinduism.
Every book begins with an invention, just as every type of blasphemy
has an audience. Dr. Gibson knew she needed a limb on which to
stand to trumpet her blasphemies, and this was found in the Hinduism-PPP
idea that already existed in the Black community before her advent
into our landscape.
A good student of literature would recognize
that this “book” shares characteristics of a pamphlet.
Whether it’s 18C British or early 20C Russian pamphlets,
pamphleteers usually have one message and will use anything to
deliver it. Gibson’s book is the same, only more colorful
and carrying an ISBN barcode meant for international circulation.
Pamphlets need no real testimonies because pamphleteers can invent
dialogues, and dialogues are mere words that can be reshaped at
will. This differs from fiction (e.g., novel) or dramatic (e.g.,
plays) writing because these have dialogues created especially
for characters. What Dickens makes young Oliver Twist say is specific
to who Oliver is. In Gibson, the“who” saying things
is not important. “What” is being said is. This makes
it acceptable in Gibson’s view to reference an imaginary
"Ghandi" instead of the historical Gandhi.
Because pamphlets differs from even manifestos
(which shares elements of a pamphlet) and do not work under the
rules of either technical or literary writing, facts are not necessary.
If facts are use, it’s a bonus. In Gibson’s case,
it’s a disguise that deceived many reviewers from Mr. Frederick
Kissoon to Mr. Al Creighton, both of whom did painstakingly similar
reviews. The flaw of the Cycle of Racial Oppression in
Guyana is not that it lacks facts, but that it has some. She never
intended for her work to be another Groundings with My Brothers,
because her primary audience is one with clenched fists that will
open only when it’s time to light fuses, not to read. All
one needs to light a fuse is a matchstick and a book of blasphemies
marketed on TV is a great flamethrower.
Here is an incident that makes Dr. Gibson very
relevant. After Ms Donna McKinnon was killed in the vicinity of
Freedom House in April of 2001 during post-elections unrest, an
individual E-mailed Guyanese worldwide saying that an “an
Afro-Guyanese woman” was “murdered” by an “Indo-Guyanese
male.” As with Dr. Gibson, we’re told, “witnesses
say” this. Interestingly, this person is now a founder-member
of the newly formed Guyana Institute for Democracy in Brooklyn,
a supposedly “non-partisan” group. While the strange
transition from rabble-rousing to democracy championing is suspicious,
it is obvious that this person wanted to incite a violent reaction
by Blacks against Indians, not only in Guyana but also in cyberspace.
This readiness among Black voices in opposition
to the PPP to manufacture news and opinions out of lies or half-truths,
borders on barbed-wire propaganda that is detrimental and self-destructive—for
misinformation only keeps a community out of focus with what is
really happening. On May 27, 2001, the late Mr. Hoyte accused
the PPP of many things that were false in a letter to the press,
such as the diversion of water from Buxton to Indian villages.
That an ex-president would indulge in such false claims is evidence
of the desperation of Black leaders to indulge in a degeneracy
of ideas. Black voters have to put an end to this because it is
dead wrong, and it serves no benefit so great that it requires
the exchange of their conscience as decent people. Since the decline
of the PNC from office, the Black community of Guyana has failed
to demand this from the PNC, that is, the trading of the Black
conscience for a right for PNC members to speak (or not to speak)
But why condemn this book when it is only the
typed opinion of notable Black leaders, from Mr. Hoyte’s
“mo fyah” and violent Buxton as a “just cause”
to Mr. Alexander’s “injection” theory of violence
for Indians? This book is just a photo essay of violent street
protests that are commonplace now. When Black protesters-turn-arsonists
light Indian-owned stores afire, they do not hum “we shall
overcome” but holler “mo fyah!” instead. The
PNC cannot deny that almost every violent protest since 1992 has
been done in their favor. This is because Black leadership is
the only one that offers violent rhetoric (whether at rallies
or in newspaper interviews) as political solution.
Fortunately, this book will not survive
the test of time. This is not due to the sheer horror of its content,
but because its primary admirers cannot learn anything new from
it. They did not need this book to stir their wits beyond the
grab of their imagination, or give their sunken views arms and
legs. At most, they may anticipate that the Black middle class
of Guyana which may afford this book at $3,500 (US$25.00) will
read and be incensed into action by it. It's difficult to foresee
this occurring—this book is an immaculate throwback on decades
of serious, intelligent writing to originate from the Black community
across the West Indies from Garvey to James to Rodney. Ultimately,
the Black community will have to dismiss this book, even if subtly,
for it is a terrible and shortsighted examination of the complex
Afro-Guyanese personality today.
Still, until then, it must be taken seriously
because there is orchestration against Guyanese interest. I say
“Guyanese” interest because one cannot act against
Indian or Black interest in Guyana without damaging national interest.
No one should dismiss as R. Soobrian did, those who plot behind
TV screens and E-mails as “lunatic fringe racists.”
These individuals are neither insane nor do they exist on the
“fringe.” Instead, they are adequately financed, well
connected, and committed civilians who dwell intimately among
us. And even if they were indeed “lunatics,” we still
have to be attentive for madness cannot be easily measured, only
monitored constantly at best.
Finally, I would discourage people from buying this expensive
book. Borrow it if one must read it, but it’s not worth
paying for because it’s not worth reading.
For Frederick Kissoon's review, please see Gibson's Work is Propaganda.]