Sep 23, 2022 Letters
I noticed in SN’s September 19 edition that His Excellency, President Ali used a derogatory word to describe a now infamous foreigner. Apparently, President Ali labelled (some may say libelled) Mr. Su a ‘carpetbagger.’ I congratulate His Excellency on a word that gained renewed currency and much scorching vitriol in the post-Civil War American South. But while at it, I am compelled to point out to Guyana’s Head-of-State that he left unfinished his lesson on the bitter and combustible era of American Reconstruction politics. For, there is a missing word that belongs just as powerfully, if not more pungently, on the other side of his ‘carpetbagger’ equation.
The word is scalawag. It goes hand in hand with carpetbagger, of which Mr. Su now stands as the vile poster child of all that has gone wrong in Guyana. It is how for every incoming opportunist from alien shores bent on gaming local conditions and the human resource system, there are usually dirty rotten scoundrels for counterparts in the welcoming domestic realm. In fact, in the history of the post-American Civil War employment of the word, scalawag carries a far worse interpretation than that of carpetbagger. A scalawag was considered a lower life form that the opportunistic barbarian carpetbagger, if not the lowest of the lowest. He or she was an aid, abettor, collaborator, and self-enricher.
Editor, because of this, and as much as I have a certain regard for the extent of the President’s scope and scale of exposure to things such as these, there is recognition for those who put these words in his head, scripts in his hands. They should know that to give the President a loaded word such as carpetbagger is too open ended, and it opens the door to the serious risk of scalawag being placed in the center of the table for national absorption. Let us all not be squeamish, but follow this to its logical end. It follows that where there is a carpetbagger, there is the presence of scalawags, arguably many of such rodent like creatures. As I recall the staggering successes of Mr. Su’s in the field of Guyana land owning, it is beyond conjecture, outside the arena of argument, that the foreigner could have functioned as well, and all by his lonesome. To present this differently, this Carpetbagger Comrade from China had to have had help, and it couldn’t be from an ordinary nobody figure like me, but well-placed people who could make things happen.
Who could those have been? Here is another knuckleheaded question: what could be responsible for the defenses coming out of President’s Ali’s head and mouth? This is as he seemingly makes a sturdy and stentorian defense of his troubled governance apparatus. It is time to cut to the chase, when I examine this startling new carpetbagger claim (assertion, calculated castigation) hurled by President Ali at Mr. Su. It is clear that Guyana has now progressed into the land of fantasy, mystery, and improbability. For to call Mr. Su a carpetbagger and not proceed one step beyond that damaging and drilling word ascribes to this now notorious, and unwelcome, foreign genius, an unheard-of Olympian feat. It is that he succeeded where everyone else failed before. He showed Guyanese that, indeed, one hand can clap. His greater glory and wondrous magic is that Mr. Su did so repeatedly and in many endeavours in Guyanese life. It is either that, or what President Ali is up to is nothing but transparent showmanship. Governorship is needed, chief, not more gamesmanship.
Taking all this into consideration, I conclude with this parting gift to our dear President: words have power in the expanse of their prevailing meanings and contexts, even the ordinary ones, or the rarely used ones. And by the time this is realised, it is too late. In plain English, much damage has been done. In easier to relate Guyanese, “boat dun gaan ah faals.” Nobody cares about verbal boats, but of who is inside. In Guyana, corruption is now so pervasive and entrenched, reaches so high, that it has transformed into both means and ends. This is a public service message for the nation’s President. No charge, suh.
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