Preparing for the World's Backlash
Bruce Golding's interview, aired yesterday on BBC, brought out some of the best and worst of Jamaica, in the eyes of the world.
One the one hand we are a feisty bunch of people, who are unwilling to be be dictated to, or humbled by outside forces.
On the other hand we have an astronomic murder rate and there exists a widespread, open hatred of homosexuals that goes well past mere homophobia.
Last night Golding, who I admire in many ways, candidly responded that he would not have a gay person in his cabinet. His distaste and contempt seemed palpable to me.
He implied that the reason for this decision was to enable them to execute their duties "without favour, fear or intimidation."
I imagined Jamaicans looking on with pride, as the comments on the YouTube video of the interview reflected: http://youtube.com/watch?v=9cQx-zmHgg8
I imagined most of the world looking on in horror.
At that moment I felt what it would like to be on the receiving end of the world's lobbying efforts, with my country, Jamaica, arguing that it did not need to heed the calls from the rest of the world for human rights for an oppressed minority. We join China, Zimbabwe, Cuba, Myanmar/Burma and others in arguing that we should be left alone to determine our own future free of outside interference from the test of the world.
Our complaint should not be new as we heard it loud and clear when white South Africa made the same plea in defense of their Apartheid system
We have a bigger problem, however. Tourism makes up a significant part of our earnings (the second largest source of foreign exchange.)
Golding's words certainly won't help us attract more visitors.
It will probably attract more of the kind of attention these repressive regimes shared, as we implement our own Apartheid.
We continue to try to have our cake and eat it too. This point seems to have been lost on Golding yesterday, as he made what most around the world would agree were unusually divisive and bigoted comments. The undertone of his words was clear -- gays are just not....
He sounded like any Jamaican speaking here in Kingston, just a lot milder in his comments than the average man in the street. In Jamaica, it's said that he couldn't say his real feelings, because the world couldn't handle them.
However, in the rest of the world, I imagine, his spoken words on the BBC HardTalk programme are enough to provoke outrage, boycotts, demonstrations and calls for Jamaica to join the company of civilized nations.