SHIP OF FOOLS
Posted: Saturday, February 1, 2003
by Bukka Rennie
Peter Minshall's 2003 Carnival presentation, "A Ship of Fools", has tremendous creative material to choose from the present goings-on in this so-called independent republic with all the brouhaha about the apparent newspaper exposure of a secret Muslim sect with a "lab" of supposed biological and chemical weapons of war, ready to attack American and British capital investments here as well as all their personnel and private property, if Muslims are provoked by an attack on Iraq.
But is it an exposé? Certainly not! And because of this there are widespread criticisms of those responsible for the sensational but rather superficial piece.
What really amuses though is the puerile response from the managing editor and editors at large who seem not to know what a "lab" is, nor, and this is striking, what "investigative journalism" is all about.
The aspect of their response to the criticism of their careless act that is really revealing is contained in the last paragraph of the editorial on January 29 in which they say:
"...we insist that Trinidad and Tobago remains in peril and, possibly, in more ways than one. We, for our part, are determined to continue investigating not only this group but all those new ‘mimic men' who embrace fashionable extremist doctrines to the detriment of our republic. Exposure in the public interest is our real responsibility and, indeed, sacred duty..."
And on January 30 they continued to big-up themselves, beating their chest about their "...unparalleled investigative reporting..." Mindless of course of the irony of it all.
Dear friends, investigative journalism can never be merely the crass reporting of what someone tells you or purports to show you even if after all the drama of blindfolding you. An investigative report is a report that is the conclusion of investigative work.
Where is the investigation in the piece on terrorism in T&T? Pray tell us! Where is it? Not even the name of this specific Muslim group has been provided, yet the Express is boasting about investigative capability.
Were no demands made on these extremists to provide the reporters with something with which they could begin to work? Obviously not!
So any lunatic can walk into your offices or telephone you and lay before you all kinds of wild and unsubstantiated claims.
Is it then in the "public interest" and your "scared duty" to rush to press with such claims without any attempt to substantiate? Investigation is about a specific exercise to examine and substantiate all that has been projected as fact.
Note we say "fact" and not "opinion", opinion is opinion and is clearly subjective, investigative journalism does not in anyway confuse the two. "T&T remains in peril" is your opinion and you are free to be as ludicrous as you wish, but it is not proven fact.
The Watergate Report that brought about the collapse of the Nixon regime in the USA took many months to complete.
The two reporters involved did not rush to press with the very first ruminations that came from "Deep Throat". They checked everything Deep Throat said and cross-referenced information before they published.
Editors and reporters who do the opposite are naive and gullible. Just as gullible as the woman who recently gave the conman sex with the expectation of getting a job and the conman had to be charged eventually with "rape by fraud".
That is not the first time something like this has happened in T&T.
Some years ago a woman allowed a man to take her to the Queen's Park Savannah and under the pretext of driving out evil spirits that possessed her, he had sex with her. And more than that, he also buggered her.
The two reporters who allowed themselves, without any kind of back-up, to be blindfolded and transported by unknown elements who, from the very onset, laid claim to violent extremism, behaved just like the two women mentioned above.
Did it not occur to them and their editors that if these lunatic elements were who they claimed to be that the possibility existed that the State security forces, either Army Intelligence or Special Branch, could have been on to them and the two reporters may have unwillingly and inadvertently been killed in crossfire at any given moment? Fate apparently has a way of protecting the innocent, the gullible and the downright stupid.
But there are connections to be made in context of all this brouhaha and the fact that travel advisories have emanated from the US, Britain and Australia warning their nationals about travelling to T&T because of crime levels and suspected links of people here to international terrorism!
Crime levels in Jamaica, for example, are much higher than in T&T: there are multiple murders and executions sometimes on a daily basis, tourists are also attacked; last year some 32 policemen in Jamaica were arrested for corrupt practices, the drugs economy is more massive and more traditional than T&T, local dons in JA walk around armed and exhibit political clout owing to their traditional and historic structural links to either of the two parties, etc, etc.
Yet no travel advisory has been put out against JA. Why T&T? It can only be because of T&T's geopolitical significance in context of the US foreign policy parameters:
(1) Bush in building up his case to attack Iraq needs to widen his "international terrorist axis" as much as is possible. Suggesting al-Qaida links and presence in T&T allows Bush to do exactly that. The 1990 experience here facilitates Bush's agenda today.
(2) Outside of Canada, the largest bulk of US direct capital investment lies in T&T and that investment has to be protected at all cost.
Because of (1) and (2) T&T has to be kept in line at all times, eg T&T's support for Chavez next door has been frowned on, likewise our tightening relations with Cuba (eg the aim of hiring in T&T some of the 89,000 doctors available in Cuba will further open up the Cuba/Caricom trade links). US foreign policy will do everything to prevent any development of a Cuba/ Brazil/Ecuador/Venezuela/ T&T link in its backyard.
The point is that it seems that there is an agenda to psychologically beat us back into line and the naive and the gullible and those with political axes to grind are innocently being led by their noses. What a herd of asses?
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