A Response to Eric B. Strachan

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Oswald Brown

Oswald Brown Writes!

By OSWALD T. BROWN

I have just read very well written comments by Eric B. Strachan in response to my “commentary” on victimization and my subsequent explanation as to why I stopped supporting the Free National Movement (FNM), which I provided in response to a request from Kandice D, who I presume is the “mastermind” behind the blog BAHAMA VOICE.

At the outset let me say that Mr. Strachan’s suggestion that as a “veteran journalist” I should not openly support a political party is a terribly flawed premise. What makes me as a journalist any different from any other professional who has strong views on what is right or what is wrong as far as the governance of this country is concerned? Doctors openly voice their political opinions; so do lawyers, architects, accountants, bankers—well, I think you can see the point I’m trying to make.

What Mr. Strachan actually did in the argument he presented was question my integrity. Because I’m a journalist who supports a particular political party, he suggested that I can’t be trusted to honestly comment on an issue that the party I support agrees with or opposes.

He is wrong, dead wrong. In the same manner that a medical doctor’s conduct is “governed” by the Hippocratic oath, journalists are duty bound to abide by a professional Code of Ethic, and throughout my more than fifty years as a journalist I have scrupulously made every effort to let this be my guiding light professionally.

Of course, there are clear examples of articles I have written that could easily have been perceived to be biased with regard to my political “leanings” at the time. For instance, over the years I wrote a personal column, OSWALD BROWN WRITES, which was first published when I worked for Bahamian Times, the PLP’s newspaper, back in the 1960s and was revived when I returned to The Bahamas in 1996 after living in Washington, D.C. for 21 years and became editor of The Freeport News and later editor of The Nassau Guardian.

Certainly, the columns that I wrote for The Bahamian Times were unquestionably anti-UBP. At both the Freeport News and the Guardian, my columns of a political nature generally were supportive of the policies of the FNM, the party that I supported at the time. However, it is important to keep in mind is that these columns were written under my name and represented my opinions. Persons reading what I had written were free to form their own opinions.

By contrast, I also wrote daily editorials during my editorship of both The Freeport News and The Guardian and my editorials always reflected the policy of the newspaper, whether or not my personal opinion differed from what I knew the newspaper’s stand on a particular issue was.

This is an accepted practice in newspapers around the world. In fact, in the internationally acclaimed Washington Post—whose managing editor, Ben Bradley, was a strong supporter of the Democratic Party when I lived in Washington—it was not uncommon to see the Post editorially take a strong position on an issue and on that same editorial page there was an opinion by a conservative columnist that was totally opposed to the Post’s viewpoint.

Mr. Strachan also took issue with my comment that I owed a “degree of loyalty” to Sir Lynden for having arranged for me to go to London for advanced training in journalism. This retrospective opinion had more to do with the political climate at the time, which I said resulted in me making what I later considered to be a bad decision.

When I returned from London in November of 1969, a major “split” had taken place in the PLP only months before that led to the firing of current Governor General Sir Arthur Foulkes as Minister of Tourism. Sir Arthur not only was my mentor, but he was, and still is, one of the most decent human beings I have encountered in my lifetime. What’s more, I still contend that he made a greater sacrifice because of his involvement in the progressive struggle than any one other individual, including Sir Lynden. However, that story is not relevant to this discussion.

It was, therefore, only natural that I would maintain my allegiance to Sir Arthur and leave the PLP along with the Dissident Eight, even though I had strong feelings about the appropriateness of joining forces with remnants of the UBP, whose racist policies had relegated Black Bahamians to second-class citizenship in their own country. It was this decision that I later concluded was a bad one.

Like so many other Bahamians who do not fully appreciate the tremendous contributions Sir Lynden Pindling made to this country, Mr. Strachan totally refused to accept my conclusion that Sir Lynden was “unquestionably the greatest political leader in this country’s history?”

Instead, he chose perpetuate the lies that political detractors of Sir Lynden’s have concocted over the years that he was a major operative in the drug scandal that consumed The Bahamas in the 1980s.

The fact is that there has never been any credible evidence of Sir Lynden’s personal involvement in drugs. This is not to suggest that there were not persons during this disgraceful period of our country’s history that did not “profit” from being considered as having close ties to Sir Lynden.

It became quite clear, however, that Mr. Strachan’s points of view were politically motivated when he make this statement: “The PLP was given a second chance at forgiveness but failed in its efforts between 2002 and 2007 to wash itself of the image as the party for self-interest and self-preservation at the expense of the masses. Now it is back in power with a very convincing win over its nemesis, the FNM. However it has still not atoned for the darkest era in Bahamian history and the Bahamian people are sadly not pressing for an atonement exercise. This gives reason to believe that the much of the same will occur.”

Obviously, Mr. Strachan’s sense of reasoning totally abandoned his mental faculty when he made that ridiculous statement. The evidence is crystal clear that the PLP provided The Bahamas with excellent governance between 2002 and 2007 and when Hubert Ingraham and the FNM came to power in May of 2007 they met the economy in sound health.

By contrast, the evidence is equally as clear that under the FNM over the past five years, Hubert Ingraham, as Minister of Finance, and his inept and incompetent Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing totally mismanaged the country’s economy, resulting in the Bahamian people having to endure a level of suffering that many of them had never experienced before.

Meanwhile, it is unbelievable and mind-boggling that Mr. Strachan took issue with my contention that “since the launch several weeks ago of Urban Renewal 2.0 the program has had a noticeable impact.” He suggested that this “does not reconcile with the police statistics on serious crime, in particular murders, to date.”

Did he listen to this morning’s (Monday’s) news on ZNS and the glowing report that the police gave on the impact that Urban Renewal 2.0 is having in the various communities.

So may I suggest, Mr. Strachan, that you cease from demonstrating your obvious biased support for the FNM by spreading lies and propaganda about Sir Lynden and the effectiveness of the new PLP government since coming to power on May 7, 2012.

–ends–