Sunday Brew was too strong

Sunday Brew was too strong

Thursday, October 22, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The Sunday Brew by H G Helps, editor-at-large, is normally a special treat for me. The articles within are normally sharp, provocative, and highly opinionated. I do not always share the forthright views expressed, but I always find them interesting and engaging.

I, however, had to take great exception with the recent article headlined 'Lisa must sanction rude Venesha Philips' (October 18,2020).

I think the author went overboard in stating his displeasure at some remark that Councillor Venesha Phillips made in relation to Mark Golding in an internal People's National Party (PNP) affair. Ironically, I think in trying to make the point that she was rude, Helps himself crossed the line of rudeness. Much of what was said raised very uncomfortable questions and could be viewed as offensive, classist, and even worse.

I do not speak for Phillips, and she does not need my defence. Several statements were made which would cause discomfort among readers who desire a Jamaica based on polite, positive, and progressive values.

Firstly, the article referred to Phillips as a councillor and questions who is she “trying to seek company” with, and even goes to pejoratively refer to her as “this little hurry-come-up councillor”. This gives the distinct impression that the supposedly lowly councillor is, as we would say in Jamaica, out of her place, or 'fly past her nest' to dare to criticise a lofty Member of Parliament (MP).

Is the PNP an equal opportunity organisation? Are we striving for a Jamaica in which the ideas and opinions of individuals have weight in relation to their substance, or from whom they originate? Are councillors inferior beings to MPs? Does Phillips have a right to express her views in an internal party matter?

Secondly, the author referred to what an outstanding Jamaican “has achieved in many areas of life of which Phillips can only dream of acquiring one per cent”. The author failed to mention one good quality of Mark Golding — indeed, there may be many — to substantiate his point, but instead made direct reference to Mark's father, Sir John. It is public knowledge that John Golding, a white man from Britain, came to Jamaica and made monumental contributions in the fields of health, science, education, among others. One cannot help but wonder why Helps needed to mention this in relation to his uncharitable comments about Phillips. This gives the distinct and uncomfortable impression that Mark Golding, the son of a white doctor from Britain, is somehow naturally superior to Philips, who is of black, humble, Jamaican origin. Also, that we are forever to judge people by the achievement of their parents and not by their own current intrinsic worth, and to denigrate those of us whose backgrounds have little social connections, the 'right' colour/shade, and money.

I will not mention the potential national and racial implications here either. From what I gather of Mark Golding, he would be very uneasy with such comments and their wider potential implications too. Furthermore, the implications are inconsistent with the general progressive spirit of the Sunday Brew and its highly experienced author.

Ironically, this was published over the Heroes' weekend when Jamaicans reflect on their heritage and the work of our national heroes to create a fair, equitable, and just Jamaica.

Venesha Phillips, like many other PNP candidates, lost in her bid to be elected to Parliament in the recent general election. Other losing candidates also support Lisa Hanna's campaign to become the president of the PNP. Many factors accounted for their loss which will make an interesting study for the psephologists and historians.

Was it necessary to suggest that Phillips or any of Hanna's supporters are “the unnecessary baggage that only the National Solid Waste Management Authority is interested in”, when we all know that this agency deals with garbage disposal? Is this kind of language suitable for someone who merely expressed an opinion?

At times emphatic language needs to be used to make certain points about people and issues. The strong language, however, used in relation to Phillips seems like overkill. One cannot help but wonder what words would be used if she had made a statement that was erroneous, immoral, or encouraged some illegal activity. I would urge the Sunday Brew to use more appropriate words for certain situations and substantiate the points to be made. In so doing, it would be clear that he intended not to be mean or uncharitable, but have sound basis to his opinion which he has every right to have and express, just like Councillor Phillips may have of Mark Golding.

D Harris

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