Kaieteur News – I will give Ravi Dev some advice and I hope he remembers it always. It is going on to 33 years I am a newspaper columnist. In those years people would come up to me and declare that they don’t understand many things in my pieces. Some would say, “Freddie tone down the intellectual thing man.”
Ravi’s letter in the Monday, November 22, 2021 issue of the Stabroek News (SN) is a plausible and overdue critique of the inherent bias of SN against the PPP. But it is done in the style of a certain well known letter-writer and a majority of people do not understand what this gentleman is getting at when he writes. I hope that Ravi hasn’t caught the infection.
Ravi is well educated to know how SN evolved, the class structure it was born into and the cultural predilections that come with such class elitism. SN has a political purpose. It emerged as part of the Portuguese/Creole rampart, founded by two Portuguese gentlemen whose family was the crème de la crème of the 1940s and 1950s.
I wrote for the SN for six consecutive years and I saw the attempt by David DeCaires and Miles Fitzpatrick to resuscitate the colour and class regime of the 1940s in the 1990s. A caveat is in order. I think both men were decent, nice, principled fellows (the Portuguese petty bourgeois were) but they drew the line where colour and class were concerned.
They let other folks know that there is a demarcation line that cannot be crossed. In contrast, the bourgeois Indian class in Guyana is not like that. There is a sociological explanation for the class modesty of both the Indian bourgeoisie and Indian middle class but that should not concern us here.
In response to Ravi’s useful analysis of where SN stands in relation to the PPP’s possession of state power, I quote from two of my pieces. I wrote in a column titled, ‘Guyana’s class structure: Beyond the end of history’ of Monday, September 20, 2021: “The middle class is in dormancy. It will be left to the Stabroek News to carry the torch for the Creole middle class. I sincerely believe that my studies of Guyanese society lead me to think that the middle class vacuum will be filled by the Stabroek News (SN). I saw the power of class and colour at SN. It has remained in this mode since its birth. It speaks for the middle class elites. I have nothing against SN. This is my academic analysis.”
Here is an extract from my column ‘Kaieteur News and Stabroek News: A class analysis’ of Wednesday, September 22, 2021: “SN was founded, funded and preserved by the Portuguese bourgeoisie with money from the American government. It became an integral part of light-complexion class structure. Its motivating instinct was that there should be an instrument to preserve middle class ethos in Guyana. There was a cultural, ideological, and class foundation in the decision to birth SN.”
From here on until we reach the election of 2025, the SN is going to adumbrate positions that Dev takes objections to thus we can expect more trenchant articulations from Dev. One would hope that these offerings by Dev will be written in a way the lay person could understand what he is getting at.
I believe people (just as how Dev reacted) will find these positions too one-sided and will rightly attribute political motives to SN. SN will continue to give more than usual coverage to the Guyana Human Rights Association, Transparency International-Guyana chapter, WPA and the AFC thus inviting criticism that it has a political agenda.
What I think SN is going to do is to shape the circumstances in Guyana with its relentless anti-PPP coverage to enable a middle class third party to emerge two years before the 2025 elections. We have a corrugated society, broadened by the anger of certain middle class entities by the return of Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP to power. The SN leads that brigade.
It is unfortunate that a newspaper could take the position on Dr. Vincent Adams in four editorials condemning the PPP government for removing him as head of the EPA. There has to be a demarcation line between politician and the professional public servant. Dr. Adam is in the leadership of an opposition party.
In concluding, I think SN is going to adopt frequently, the position that Dev has rejected in his esoteric letter for which he should apologise for his style. I repeat once more, I have nothing personal against SN. But I am an academic and this is my reading of Guyanese sociology. It is up to SN to prove me and Dev wrong.
(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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