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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ali Baba and The Forty Peeves


Dear Editor

A remarkable thing has happened. The closing of the Tuesday night’s discussion and call-in program on Observer Radio is a signal moment in radio in Antigua and Barbuda. Charges of racism have been levied at the guests on Serpent’s show, particularly, I suspect, in reference to “The Third Man”. I recall in crystal clarity the precise moment The Third Man made a particular comment one Tuesday night and I knew immediately that the program was doomed in our bipolar and disordered Antigua and Barbuda. He said, in effect, that St. John’s city should look more like us, Antiguans.

The charge of racism is false, unreasonable and smacks of typical, offensive self-defense. As a frequent caller reminded us, black people cannot by definition be racist when they challenge the status quo to obtain equality at best, since racism means the superiority of one race over another. It is as preposterous as a simmering pot on a stove being accused by the stove of being fiery.

The counter argument that should have been legitimately levied at “The Third Man”, and Serpent and the other two guests should have pounced on it, was the central and essential question of nationality and citizenship. These are fundamental, crucial questions that all of us are trying to grapple with and debate at this mixed-up, pepper-pot period of our history. A civil, truthful and polite discussion about the sensitive, important subjects of nationality and citizenship is the only sensible, democratic way forward.

To stifle opinion because accusers are unwilling to come on radio or call in and defend their position against those who offend them is to turn Observer Radio on its head. The comment that it takes a difference of opinion to make a horserace will be as vacant as looking at masses of expectant spectators at a horserace with only a single, ambling, quixotic horse in distant sight.

Yours truly,

Dr. Lester CN Simon

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