Kaieteur News – I have said it umpteen times; I do not use social media. I do not have a Facebook account. But people send me Facebook postings and other things from social media all the time. I got one about what the Stabroek News (SN) wrote about me in their online edition yesterday.
I went into my email to send my column for today when I saw one of the mails. I do not go online to read the Kaieteur News (the newspaper should start sending me a copy) and the Stabroek News. But the Stabroek News in reply to a comment on my criticism of Transparency International Guyana Incorporated (TIGI) took an unsavoury dig at me.
I will reproduce the exchange as sent to me. “Fuad Rahaman – I didn’t waste my time reading this nonsense but I did read with great interest Mr. Freddie Kissoon’s critique of TIGI in today’s KN. Unlike TIGI, Mr. Kissoon is consistent and trustworthy. The larger issue that is coming to the fore is the agenda of the Portuguese/Mullato/Creole bourgeoisie loudspeaker, i.e., SN. I never bought in to arguments about race and class as they relate to journalism in Guyana but these factors cannot be dismissed.” In response SN wrote, “You clearly have no fix on the situation in this country. If Kissoon is your prism you better look elsewhere. We would take TIGI any day.”
I am a simple man hardly capable of asserting arrogance about my character but I say boldly and I will put it in emphasis – IT WOULD BE INFRA-DIG for me to reply to what SN wrote about me in that line yesterday.
I would not assault my dignity in response to this criticism of SN by reproducing over 50 years of social, political and human rights activism in this country over which only Walter Rodney has suffered worst than me – he lost his life. No other activist in the history of this country has had vindictive state behaviour thrust upon him over a long period and in two instances almost lost his life. In the pursuit of me, the state also attacked my wife and daughter. I will leave it at that.
If the Stabroek News chooses TIGI over me that is the newspaper’s right. There may be things about me that the newspaper does not like. In theoretical terms that is understandable and logical. A man could be a good person but the feminist movement would not like him because he thinks women should not be entitled to an abortion.
A man could be a good person but the LGBTQ community may not like him because he opposes homosexuality and bi-sexuality. A human may not be like someone because he takes positions on class and colour that others will resent him for publicising.
It is obvious to any person who takes an interest in the broad stream of events in this country where the Stabroek News (SN) is coming from. It had to do with my academic, I repeat, academic discourse on race, class and colour in Guyana. My analysis was not personal or personalised. And I did write in my column that I have nothing personal against the newspaper.
On the contrary, I think the SN is a very important institution. As a person driven by the philosophical fulcrums on which democracy rests, I believe the free press is precious. If we have governments that cannot be criticised then freedom and justice die immediately. I would hope that the SN continues its existence because the free press is needed to expose the wrong directions of power.
I cannot complain and I should not that the SN prefers a social actor like TIGI over me. Why should I go on a rant and produce my record over the past 50 something years just to rebut? I have to continue doing what I am doing even though I am in advanced age. That is me. That was me. That will always be me. But this I can exclaim from the roof top – I will not be deterred. I was never and never will be.
I end with a snippet of memoir. When I opposed the government of the PPP, I had countless Indians come up to me and gave wonderful encouragement. Africans behaved the same way to me when I was a consistent critic of the APNU+AFC regime. Yesterday, I parked on Cummings Street to buy a box of INAVA flavoured water. I left the trunk open for convenience to put the carton in. A young African couple drove up, saying, “Freddie yuh left yuh trunk open.” This country knows who I am and what I have always stood for.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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