The thin line of civilisation


The thin line of civilisation

Jason McKay

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Print this page Email A Friend!

Jamaica showed its rear end to the world in the seventies. I have spoken about it often – the killings, the immature politics, the acceptance that violence and the creation of political prisoners all came into being in that lousy decade of cold war violence and narcotic evolvement. Oddly enough, we were pretty civilised before.

We got our Independence without traditional wars, or violent revolution. Somehow, some way, we transitioned from a relatively peaceful, decent country to a rogue State in one decade. What is ironic is that it was not the uneducated or the criminal-minded who led this dive into inhumanity. It was, in fact, doctors, lawyers, professors and even Harvard attendees who led it.

So I ask myself; what was the stimulus that turned the intelligent and, by all appearances the decent, into moronic, destructive and selfish wild animals? Let us discuss. It is actually a trend.

Germany, prior to World War One, led the world in culture, academia and technology. They were, to a large degree, decent people compared to the British and the Russians, who were still up to their rubbish. However, the loss of World War One, followed by a badly negotiated treaty resulted in their becoming bankrupt to the point that hunger became an issue.

Well, we know the outcome. They allowed a moron to lead them to become the most brutal force in modern human history, slaughtering women and children like they were insects.

What caused this transition? Fear, want, desperation! When they were actually brought to that point, the civilised humans, the cultured, the educated became what they beheld in other cultures.

The recent American presidential election, its build-up, execution and its aftermath has shown the United States of America in a peculiar light in which we in the Caribbean have never seen them – battening up for possible political violence, refusing to give up power and decent folk planning to kill.

These are more in keeping with Third World, impoverished countries than with the most powerful and most honourable of super world powers.

What got them from the peak of the world to this stage of shame? Well, I think it is fear and misunderstanding. Let me explain.

Barack Obama is the most decent man to have led any country. But, I do not think he understood America's poor, uneducated Caucasians from largely rural backgrounds. His response on two fronts reflected this.

Firstly, there was his approach to gun control. I understand that the mass shootings put him in a position wherein he had to make moves on assault weapons and gun control in general. However, this subject to the aforementioned group is as emotional an issue as the buggery law is to Jamaica.

With this in mind, he needed to be practical and realise that he would not be able to accomplish it and seek another solution. I would have suggested putting real armed personnel in schools, malls, etc. America can damn well afford it.

In Jamaica, we put actual police officers on school compounds and call them school resource officers. You do what is necessary to get the job done, not what you think is right but is doomed to fail. That is me just being a pragmatist.

President Obama's expressed views on outgrowing unskilled jobs also indicated that he forgot about this group, a major participant in the welfare culture, that has not improved significantly economically or changed culturally in decades. There are those, which number many, who still need those jobs putting caps on bottles and slapping on labels.

This feeling of fear regarding the loss of their guns, and neglect relating to their loss of factory employment allowed a candidate to appeal to their darkest side for the most selfish of reasons – self-preservation!

So, back to Jamaica's decent folk who endorsed and financed anarchy. They were motivated by fear. Some would ask, “Fear of what?” Well, communism was a big deal back then and people saw the possibility of loss of property, freedom and arms.

Yes, you read that correctly. Michael Manley also went after people's licensed guns and shut down the issuance of firearm permits, and the Jamaican middle and upper classes hated him for it. So, fear again is implicated as a factor in turning the civilised into demons.

The ruling party of the time had an agenda of change that was needed. I have often wondered what influenced them to become the radicals that caused the domino effect that destroyed everything.

I think it is what you get when you give too many young people too much power.

I also think, though, that fear of having to answer for the destruction that occurred contributed to their demonstrating the inhumane behaviour that their opponents had done. The unanswered question is: Who started the inhumanity first?

All of the above discussed is an attempt to explain the power of fear in changing civilised, intelligent, decent people into shameless hooligans.

Peace, decent behaviour and reasonable thinking have no colour or passports.

We are no better than Rwandans or Germans and the United States is no better than we are.

Democracies are fragile, decency is conditional. So if we want to bring about change in the behaviour of that microcosm of our people, we need to look at the stimuli that caused it. You do not have to dig deep – fear, want and neglect. It is right there in our face.

We have the benefit of formerly experiencing what we are now observing in our dear neighbour. They need to learn from us and others such as Rwanda and Serbia that the threat of political violence and upheaval cannot be taken lightly.

It does not take much for a populace to cross that thin line of civilisation into a world where atrocities such as the Eventide Home and the Orange Street fires exist. If you do not know of what I speak, be thankful, because you would have been born after the seventies and would have felt less shame than the rest of us who lived it.

I urge the many sensible in the Republican Party in the USA to stop following the foolish few and put this dangerous chapter behind them.

Too many died for your freedom for you to be stepping on it in this manner.


Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon