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Jackson’s parrots

By Martin Daly

 The recent Henry poll showed a favorability rating for the Prime Minister that had risen by eleven points 2014 over 2013.  Somehow the Prime Minister apparently remains an engaging figure despite many very disturbing events that have occurred during her time in office.

The reasons for this are probably a combination of gender, her empathetic attitude toward citizens’ misfortune and her ability as a public speaker.  Her coherence on the platform undermines the constant murmurings about her alleged personal weaknesses. 

Many in the Cabinet however are easily classified as the proverbial millstones and the poll confirms this. Millstone may be too neutral a term given the continuation of the dangerous intersection of politics, financier money and gangster activity, of which the Manning PNM was also part, and the now barely concealed escalation of  it.  The plainly obnoxious behaviour of the offending Cabinet members is reminiscent of the story of Jackson’s parrot. 

Andrew Jackson is sufficiently revered as a president of the United States that his face is on the US twenty-dollar bill.  He was the seventh president, and incidentally to the story of the parrot, had a cabal of friends from Tennessee, which he represented in the House of Representatives, and he believed in rewarding his supporters well.  The cabal is said to have influenced policy more than the real cabinet.

Jackson died in 1845 and it is recorded that his pet parrot had to be ejected from his funeral service for cursing. The only authoritative record of this reads as follows: “Before the sermon and while the crowd was gathering, a wicked parrot that was a household pet, got excited and commenced swearing so loud and long as to disturb the people and had to be carried from the house.”

Kamla has many Jackson’s parrots (to which I refer of course not literally to accuse anyone of cursing but as a symbol of behaviour disturbing to the country’s stability).  Some parrots have already been removed from the Cabinet.  

Having regard to the Henry poll, which she has warmly embraced, will the Prime Minister remove more parrots before her nightly sermons on the political platform begin despite her current prevarications? The related question for Dr Rowley is will he present re-cycled parrots?  At the moment a choice between two sides full of Jackson’s parrots is not encouraging.

Meanwhile the murders are continuing unabated. Last week we had four murders in 24 hours including two children. No doubt the acting Commissioner of Police will tell us he is doing a good job and he may again receive the approbation of Prof Deosaran and his Police Service Commission colleagues.  Such approbation will merely be the confirmation of the impotence of the current establishments.

I need to repeat that, in my very first column for this year 2014, I complained as follows about the violent crime constantly in our face as the year began: “Unrestrained evildoers are again making a mockery of the mindless statistics pushed at us.”

At that time I had recently visited the Kennedy Centre of the Performing Arts in Washington DC and I wrote about the funding model that combined political and civil will and provided the money to build the centre free from political control.   Last week, as part of a return visit to attend a graduation, I made another visit to the Kennedy Center to see the Boston Ballet.

The relevance of the Boston Ballet is that, according to the Washington Post, a philanthropic lottery granted seed money for the foundation of permanent professional dance companies in seven major cities which had only pick up troupes surviving on the dedication of seasoned choreographers.

As we struggle to raise funds to re-establish the Little Carib Dance Company—our annual dinner fundraiser is on Saturday, July 19—we are hopeful of providing a similarly permanent uplift and employment for young persons of undoubted talent, some of whom in time will be able to expand their dance horizons beyond Trinidad and Tobago and the region.

Much has been written about the life of the poet and author Maya Angelou, who died last month. She spoke out for black girls and commentators are thanking her for “insisting on the significance of their lives” given the assaults suffered in their tender years.  Of the many of the Angelou quotations put on display in the last fortnight, my favourite is: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

The bourgeoisie became so petrified for themselves when Dana Seetahal was murdered that they briefly awoke from their indifference and cried out copiously. There is so much need to stay awake, to come down from the cocktail circuits, to add support to healing the assaults and through peaceful means to release the untold stories of our youth of every gender, creed and race.   The relevance of the Jackson’s parrots can thereby be diminished. 

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