Professor of Criminology was adamant. Perception, implied Prof. Deosaran,
response to crime, to the spate of kidnapping, to acts of murder, even if
it is one or two a week, is partially hysteria. But, that hysteria is
justified if people live in fear. If the entire country feels under siege,
if business people are thinking of leaving, of selling property, laying
off workers, settling their college children abroad, holding off on
investments, watching their backs, then hysteria is understandable.
no, this time round, unlike 1994-1995 when a wave of crime swelled out at
us and seemingly subsided of its own accord, we can’t bury our heads in
the sand and hope it will go away. This
time, the criminologist agreed, the crime was a symptom of a society that
was coming apart at the seams.
see it in the fragments, he was saying, in the sprouting of anti-crime
groups everywhere. Various business groups, Crime Stoppers, the Guardian
Angels, the Hindu Credit Union, seemingly working independently, taking
care of their own areas. He said they were forming themselves as
alternative little governments and there was no structure to draw these
threads together as part of a cohesive crime fighting strategy. This time
it was political.
utterances made me think of the fact that a weak society makes easy prey,
and now innocent frightened citizens are being made just that – we’ve
turned into formless groups of people clutching at straws, brainwashed
into supporting this interest group or that because our concerns are not
being reflected by action.
for the creation of a parallel crime–fighting unit, the criminologist
felt that establishing a thousand new policemen means a thousand new
problems. His inference was obvious. If we aren’t able to sort out our
existing police force, if we aren’t able to ask for decent entry
qualifications that will ensure that they are literate, if we aren’t
able to provide them with the intensive training they will require to
tackle a complex crime situation (rooted in a host of social issues from
domestic violence, sexual abuse, poverty, illiteracy and abandonment) and
most importantly, if we aren’t able to get any accountability out of
individual policemen or units, how on earth are we going to get anything
different out of another 1000 men.
shredding of society has been going on for decades. The difference is now
it’s erupting in our face. Some, like the criminologist, felt its
genesis lies at the feet of Dr Eric Williams, who led the nation to
believe that independence equalled a land of plenty.
people must have misinterpreted Dr Williams. When he said “Massa day
done” – he must have felt it was now time for each of us to take
charge of our own destiny, act on our own behalf, and hold ourselves
accountable for our own actions. Dr Williams, that great intellectual (and
none can deny his intellect) must have wanted to say that like Americans
who built the richest, most powerful country in world out of a Protestant
work ethic, everyone had equal opportunities under independence.
perception is all and instead of a work ethic, we created a society of
‘Champagne tastes, Mauby pockets,’ hand outs and a sense of ownership
that was not rooted in reality.
with the coming of our independence we threw the baby out with the bath
water. We interpreted ‘Massa day done’ to mean throw out a classical
education that spawned renaissance men like VS Naipaul, like CLR James,
Sir Ellis. We threw out the very profession of teaching. We became
confused about idiomatic English. Is speaking standard English going to
compromise our nationalism? We failed to understand that the brilliance of
great writers, scientists, humanists, no matter what their nationality,
was produced for all humanity, is available to all humanity. That if we
speak English, or Spanish, or French, we must do so perfectly; and that
should not threaten what is ours but enhance it.
inchoate gang or religious or political leaders push the blame for crime,
for illiteracy, for corruption, on the system; they are right. Lloyd Best
is also right. You can grease a population with oil dollars, but it is
still not going to teach them to think.
I said last week, the answers are here all the time. In a teaching system
that works, in libraries in every district, in every square mile, in well
thumbed through books on world literature, politics, philosophy, art,
history, in the homes of our leaders, so they can develop longer vision
– in education.
of education will rise a political system that is inclusive and not top
heavy. Education will remove mindless crimes.
man who chopped a woman to death was a self-confessed illiterate. The boy
who said “I’m going to rob up” somebody will instead have ambitions
to become an engineer. Where is this going? I don’t know. You tell me.
the crime we see today is the manifestation of that shredding that has
been going on bit by bit. The only way we can get ourselves out of this
mess, is to educate ourselves out of it.