When I responded to Freddie Kissoon’s attack on three Guyanese – Lord Canary, Kenneth Denny, and Dr. Randy Persaud, two of whom are long dead and cannot defend themselves I knew that the discussion would inevitably degenerate into personal attacks and insults.
Kissoon is yet to demonstrate that he understands that academics and political commentators are charged with the responsibility to inform and educate and that bombast is not analysis, noise is not reasoning, and lies can never be truth. AFC co-leader, Sheila Holder, recently had reason to upbraid him for this when she refused to allow him to bait her into “playing to the peanut gallery.” His response is a manifestation of all of the above.
I will eschew the bombast and noise and respond to his riposte. He makes two arguments:
1. That Randy Persaud and Errol Arthur, as well as all Guyanese resident abroad (these people, according to him), ran away from Guyana and have abdicated all rights as Guyanese. Unlike him “…who chose to love Guyana and not any other country” we are tenth class citizens who should not have the impudence to be involved in Guyanese affairs or to challenge Kissoon’s self appointed status.
2. That his decision to live in Guyana and work at the University precludes him from engaging in continuing education and academic research and publication, both necessary conditions for employment in academia.
Both of these arguments are abject nonsense.
1. Kissoon conveniently fails to inform us that he was once numbered among those of us who “ran away.” Could he explain what precisely he was doing in Grenada and why did he beat a hasty retreat from that country? While each of our stories is different, could he tell us if Pat Rodney ran away? Or Hugh Cholmondeley? Or Fred Wills? Are they less patriotic than Kissoon?
2. In the city where I live, Washington DC, here are a few of the tenth-class citizens that Kissoon refers to: Neil Albert, Deputy Mayor and City Administrator; Tene Dolphin, Director of the Department of Employment Services; Major General Roger C. Schultz, US Army; Kojo Nnamdi, Host of National Public Television’s “Evening Exchange” and NPR Radio’s “Morning Edition”; David Mahesh, CEO, Capitol Engineers; Dr. Steven Walks, Chief Medical Officer. I can provide him with more if wants me to and I can have Guyanese from all over the Diaspora report to him about our tenth-class status. Kissoon’s statement is nothing more than rum shop talk. However, the rum shops denizens wake up sober the next morning.
3. Kissoon enquires which country we belong to. He must know, good academic and historian that he is, that the Constitution of Guyana recognises dual citizenship. We are all Guyanese citizens unless we choose to renounce it.
4. We take our citizenship seriously. Official statistics put our contribution to GDP as over 45%. However, the unofficial figure is much higher. Just about every village, school, mandir, mosque, etc. has a support group in North America, Europe, and the Caribbean that contribute to their parent groups. Just about every Guyanese family has someone overseas that contributes to their own. For example, Salome Osborne of Greenlight Guyana Educational Project continues to provide sterling education and human services to children from the ages of 5-12 in the Bagotville, Nismes, and LaRetraite areas of the West Bank Demerara. Peter Jailall and his group of volunteers have been returning to Guyana every year for over 20 years to provide expert teacher training and other educational services to his motherland. Whenever there is an emergency – the floods, the burning down of QC, or an individual family in distress – Guyanese put their differences aside and contribute generously to alleviate the situation. Tell them that they are not Guyanese!
5. This is nothing unusual in international affairs as any academic or political analyst worth his salt ought to know. In this emerging global village international borders are being transcended more and more where the national interest is involved. Take the case of two countries – the US and Israel. The US has citizens and businesses in just about every country in the world. The US Department of Commerce estimates that US direct investment abroad increased by $397 billion to $3.3 trillion (on a current cost basis) and by $693 billion to $5.1 trillion (on market value basis) in 2007. 30% of all profits of US companies are from foreign investments. These businesses are run by Americans residents abroad. Did they relinquish their rights as American citizens to do so? And, how are the profits disposed of? In case Kissoon does not know, they are sent back to America where they contribute to American growth and development.
In the case of Israel, every Jew or descendant of Jews is considered an Israeli citizen with all rights and privileges thereof. They are allowed to participate in the Jewish states’s development regardless of where they live even though they may have never set foot in Israel.
So, I am not embarrassed that we Guyanese live and work in other lands and contribute more than 45% to GDP. That is the essence of out patriotism.
6. The remittances we give are net. We do not demand, expect, or receive anything in return. One hundred percent of what we contribute goes directly into the national coffer.
7. Every political party finds itself in our midst when they are in need of financial resources (which is often) to function. We never fail them.
8. Kissoon is one of those who berate qualified Guyanese when they return, claiming that they are taking jobs away from those who stayed and fought.
Kissoon’s second response is nothing more than a plea for sympathy from a self declared martyr. One of the reasons that academia demands that its teaching personnel engage in continuing education and research and publication is because of the phenomenal increase in knowledge and information that takes place on a daily basis. Tomorrow’s leaders cannot be trained and educated with yesterday’s technology and knowledge. It is inconceivable that Kissoon has been employed at the UG for more than three decades and has no record of publishing any peer reviewed work. What, therefore, is the body of knowledge that he imparts to his students?
He can prove me wrong by making public his own record instead of lamely and comically trying to devalue Dr. Randy Persaud’s work. He can start by publishing his one page presentation which he recently delivered at the recently concluded Historical Conference to the utter embarrassment of his peers.
Kissoon claims that the privation he suffers at UG does not allow him to engage in this type of academic improvement and research. That is a pathetic cop out as this has not gotten in the way of Dr. Clive Thomas, Dr. Harold Lutchman, and other academicians at UG and other universities all over the third world who have done so. Is it that Kissoon does not have the time and resources to do so, or that he lacks the capacity? He has no problems finding the time to write a daily column and numerous letters to the editor to spew nonsense.
By the way, Kissoon should not be troubled by whether Dr. Persaud can find a job in a high school. When last I spoke to him he was between teaching graduate classes at the American University, one of the top universities in the US. Dr. Persaud is happy that Kissoon can find employment at UG.
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