Some among us, for reasons which should be obvious to the discerning, are intent on destroying the positive advance of Jamaica. I am convinced they are willing to use any means necessary.
Well-thinking Jamaicans have a duty to intercept and cripple the merchants of murder and mayhem among us. To do otherwise would be a massive betrayal of all who have made great sacrifices, even with their very lives, plus all well-thinking Jamaicans who are today shedding blood, sweat, and tears to help make Jamaica a better place.
Criminals are committed to trapping us in a race to the bottom. As I see it, criminals and those who sponsor them have long ago made up their minds that maximum mayhem must be visited upon this society 24/7. There are no fence sitters among them. These monsters are heartless. The brutal manner in which thousands of Jamaicans have been murdered over many decades should leave no doubt in our minds that stone-cold killers walk this land aplenty.
The barbaric murders of seven-year-old Justin Perry and nine-year-old Nahcoliva Smith, students of Chetwood Memorial Primary School in St James, by a gunman who fired bullets into a taxi in which the boys were travelling, sent shock waves through the country. We have been this way before.
A report in this newspaper noted that Prime Minister Andrew Holness, on a visit to Chetwood, "laid partial blame for the deaths of the boys at the feet of residents of their Salt Spring community who failed to speak up when they saw Tevin Hayle in the area.
" 'He obviously felt protected by this ecosystem of crime, that no one would have said anything. He felt so protected that he could hide, in open view... But somebody knew and did nothing. The result of that is that two innocent children were taken away,' said Holness."
I go further than the prime minister. The vicious murders of young Justin and Nahcoliva are the result of the collective silence of all of us. Our continued collective silence will certainly help them to succeed.
We need to make up our minds as to what kind of society we want. At the time of writing the criminal who fired the bullets which killed the two boys mentioned was unfortunately still at large. Someone has given him refuge. He and like-minded monsters have made up their minds as to what kind of Jamaica they want.
Eliezer Wiesel, renowned American writer, Nobel Laureate, and Holocaust survivor, famously said: "We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressors, never the victim. Silence encourages tormentors, never the tormented."
All sides of their mouths
Up to the time of writing, some among us who claim to be champions of human rights, had not issued a statement of condemnation of the savage murders of Justin and Nahcoliva. Are they really human rights advocates as they profess or defenders of criminals?
It has not escaped my notice that as soon as vicious murderers confront members of the security forces and are cut down these human rights proponents take to the highways and byways with formulaic demands for immediate and speedy investigations. These guardians of human rights become stonily silent, however, when savagery is visited upon innocent, law-abiding citizens by marauding monsters.
These custodians of human rights do not get it. "You can't ride with the cops but root for the robbers." (US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia)
Their consistent opposition to the use of the life-saving security measure of states of public emergency (SOEs) should raise the eyebrows of all well-thinking Jamaicans. SOEs have saved hundreds of lives. — many from the most vulnerable communities in this country.
Every credible poll on the question of support for the SOEs has found that a majority of Jamaicans agree with them. The protectors of human rights tell us that they believe life is sacred. Whose life? Their actions are yet to convince me that they genuinely believe the lives of victims are precious.
Robert Louis Stevenson, novelist, essayist, and poet, famously said, "Everybody, soon or late, sits down to a banquet of consequences." Criminals must be made to sit and eat the full buffet of their actions. This is not about an embrace of revenge. It is an endorsement of justice.
Those who mollycoddle heartless murderers seem not to understand what happens to a family socially, emotionally and economically when the breadwinner is murdered. They obviously have not taken the time to read several publicly available studies which have enunciated in graphic terms the unimaginable traumas which are visited upon women and children when they are brutally assaulted by fiendish monsters. They evidently have not bothered to acquaint themselves with the reality that since 2004, Jamaica has had over 1,000 murders every single year. Do the surviving family members deserve justice?
The oblivious Opposition
Recall Martin Luther King Jr: "The richer we have become materially, the poorer we become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers."
In Utopia, all will live as brothers. But in this mortal life, there are some who have no wish to be their brother's keeper. Their sole intention is to rob, rape, pillage, murder, and create and sponsor mayhem.
The leader of the Opposition and president of the People's National Party (PNP) Mark Golding does not seem to understand these realities. If he does, it must be the best kept secret since the Manhattan Project. Golding and PNP higher-ups continue to oppose the use of SOEs, a crime-fighting tool which has saved hundreds of lives. They do not seem to get it.
In 2017 Jamaica's homicide rate was 56 per 100,000. In 2018 the homicide rate dropped to 47 per 100,000; then it was three times higher than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2019 our murder rate was 47.4 per 100,000; and, in 2020, 46.5 per 100,000 — the region's highest homicide rate. In 2021 there were approximately 49.4 murders per 100,000 inhabitants in this country. And in 2022, our rate was 52.9 homicides per 100,000. Jamaica has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for nearly 35 years. In 2005 our murder rate was 64 per 100,000 — the highest in the world.
The PNP says the SOEs trample on the civil liberties of citizens. They do not seem to get that the right to life is the most fundamental right. The PNP says it believes that zones of special Operations (ZOSOs) and not SOEs should be used to root out criminals. Golding does not seem to get that there are some among us who believe that killing another human being is comparable to swatting a mosquito. Or does he? Is Golding's constant opposition to SOEs simply about leveraging crime as a political football?
A former commissioner of police once told this country that it seemed as if there was a switch where you can turn crime on or off, and the switch needed to be discovered. I believe him. Some among us seem very afraid that liberating measures would hinder their access to controlling that switch. I don't believe that the recent upsurge in double, triple, and quadruple murders is the work of minimum wage earners. Who is flicking the switch?
In recent days several schools across the island received bomb threats. The police have confirmed that these were all hoaxes. Who benefits from this? What kinds of minds craft this kind of cruel and premeditated chaos-causing activity?
As I see it, someone and or some set of people are hell-bent on creating a massive distraction in this country. Why? What do they want to distract us from?
It has not escaped my notice that the miscreants were deliberate in the targets they chose, first schools, one major health facility in a major urban centre, a courthouse in a major urban centre, the Kingston Wharves, then the Towers in New Kingston, our primary commercial district.
I believe these hoaxes were all calculated to maim and paralyse Jamaicans with fear. Is the perpetrator a mental case? I don't think so. The cost of these hoaxes has set back our economy by millions. Is that the objective of the merchants of mayhem?
Consider this: "Bomb threat hoax could cost Kingston Wharves millions in losses." The Jamaica Observer story said, among other things: "When Kingston Wharves Limited (KWL) was forced to halt operations on Monday due to a bomb threat, the company may have suffered losses of about $50 million — the amount the entity normally earns per day." Is there another objective also?
Hundreds of parents had to leave work early to pick up their children. You don't need a degree in economics to figure the huge losses in production hours as a consequence. People with health challenges like high blood pressure and anxiety doubtless would have been negatively affected. There is no reported death as a result of the actions of these heartless brutes. I thank God. We, must, however, 'tek sleep and mark death.'
It seems to me that some people are mightily upset with especially the economic progress which the country is making. Check this: "Another new bus damaged by stone in the vicinity of Majesty Gardens yesterday morning. We cannot continue to have State property being damaged and the lives and comfort of Jamaicans being compromised for selfish and careless reasons." This was a recent post on social media by Minister of Transport Daryl Vaz.
I am convinced that some among us want our country to carry a coffin on her back in perpetuity. And some among us want Jamaica to revert to the ignominious category of Poor Man of the Caribbean. Also some want an ecosystem characterised by utter squalor. They must be thoroughly defeated.
Garfield Higgins is an educator, journalist, and a senior advisor to the minister of education and youth. Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.