David Granger and the sainthood of Forbes Burnham
David Granger’s ascension to political power and prominence has been accompanied with a dangerous revisionist attitude to history and the truth. First, Granger recently tried to deny Cheddi Jagan’s stronger claim to the father of the nation through the independence struggle by coming up with a bogus everyman theory.
Now, David Granger is attempting to recast Forbes Burnham as a saint. If this was some intellectual lightweight doing this dirty dance with the truth, the regular Joe like me would be inclined to regard it as mere fluff. But this is coming from an intellectual heavyweight and known historian. Granger knows fully well the perfidy of revising history and unbalancing the truth with prejudiced perspectives, myopia and plain old deceit. When I read of Granger’s soaring rhetoric on Forbes Burnham at Burnham’s death anniversary, I realized that in his quest to rewrite history and to erase the dark days of tyranny, murder, deprivation, thuggery, electoral robbery, corruption, malnourishment and incompetence under and by Forbes Burnham’s PNC, David Granger has missed the wider implications of his intellectual chicanery. These psychic con games have repercussions beyond damage to Granger’s credibility. They jeopardize the nation’s political reality, the PNC/APNU and by extension, the Africans it claims to represent.
Guyana is a deeply racialized country with an eight-month old minority governance situation. That minority government situation was achieved largely by a split in the Indian vote with Indian progressives shunning race voting and backing the AFC; a portion of PPP voters staying home; Amerindian and mixed voters supporting the PNC through APNU for the first time and Amerindian and mixed voters staying home and not voting for the PPP like they did in previous elections.
The bottomline is that those who rejected racial voting gave us this current dynamic. Playing conniving games with historical truth will threaten this formula and dynamic. Indians, Amerindians and the mixed know the truth about Forbes Burnham, which is why they rejected the PNC during Burnham’s days. They know that Burnham was a frightening political sinner and a failed leader. This pretentious fawning over Burnham by burying the truth will trigger defensive psychological responses from some of those critical voters whose actions gave this country minority government. You cannot play these games without paying a price in votes.
The problem with the kind of narrative Granger gave on Burnham is suggests to the casual onlooker that the PNC/APNU has no sense of contrition about its past atrocities. That the PNC/APNU has no shame and no apologetic bone in its body. As the most mistrusted party in Guyana, this kind of biased infatuation with a destructive personality will restore troubling belief systems in voters who were able to break away for the first time in 2011. One would think that after the Linden fiasco where the PPP has been openly questioned about whether it wanted to ignite racial strife in Guyana, the PNC/APNU would have more sense and situational awareness to not rock the boat and imperil the goodwill it received from the Linden fallout. To make these outlandish assertions of sainthood for Burnham who was nothing but a power-drunk tyrant will play right back into the hands of the PPP, which failed to get what it may have wanted from Linden but is actually getting the same result from the PNC/APNU’s barefaced one-eyed and jaundiced views on Burnham and the recent everyman theory on father of the nation.
Only a party and leaders with a barefaced disregard to the truth, in awe of its horrendous past and completely out of sync with realpolitik awareness would deliver such tripe with a straight face in exactly the kind of political tightrope we have in Guyana. To take these intellectually deceitful steps in mocking historical truth while knowing fully well that crossover votes are vital for the PNC/APNU to ever gain power democratically is plain tomfoolery. One has to wonder that if Burnham is seen in such glowing light by the supposed agents of change within the PNC/APNU like Granger, what kind of government we will get from the PNC/APNU if it ever regains power? Does this outrageous perspective on Burnham mean we will get Burnham-styled leadership from these very men who see nothing wrong with his leadership and who actually see such leadership as brilliant?
If this is the case with PNC/APNU, could voters really trust the PNC to be any different now from then? At a bare minimum, political and situational awareness would have dictated Granger adopt a more honest assessment of Burnham.
Granger did not because he admires Burnham who is his idol. Burnham promoted Granger to head of the GDF above other senior candidates making the army politically subordinate to the PNC and Burnham. This is not the first time Granger has panegyrized Burnham to canonization. It will not be the last. I fear that Granger’s infatuation with Burnham is rooted in his view that Burnham did nothing wrong and led admirably and that Granger would have no problem in using power like Burnham. That is the danger Granger and the relics from the Burnham era in the PNC/APNU represent to Guyana. In another letter, I will expose the myth about Burnham and Jagan and how they miserably failed Guyana.