by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 08 April 2007)
After returning from my sabbatical, I wanted to address a few things that had been on my mind concerning women’s issues. Then there was that pesky little BBC reporter that needed to be taught a thing or two about international niceties.
However, in the meantime, I have sorely overlooked a long overdue acknowledgement of dear Sweet and Sensitive Freddie Kissoon in regards to his query about my absence and a response to his assertion that I had somehow lost my groove – “again.”
I certainly do not want to seem ill-mannered and since one of Freddie’s columns has caused me ire this past week, it seems there would be no better time than the present to address some of his previous tittle-tattles and taunts.
Naturally, I feel it necessary to first refreshed my aging colleague’s mind and assert that it was not I who had lost my groove so many months ago, but Freddie himself who jumped to a conclusion that I had somehow implicated him in a matter concerning a letter to the Editor about the President suing a newspaper and a citizen for printing material he found to his Excellency’s disliking (His Excellency, the President - not Mr. Kissoon).
I was then forced to respond to Sweet and Sensitive Freddie in a forceful manner to point out the powerful energy of my groove and just how weak his groove appeared at that particular time. Freddie and I eventually ironed out our differences, as is clear in his column from January 31 when he said all sorts of very nice things about me, which is a great example of why I call him Sweet and Sensitive Freddie.
However, like any mere human (yes, Freddie, you are a mere human too), it seems my friend can find himself in the same trap as the rest of us when it comes to stereotyping a section of people. Case in point, Freddie’s column from April 2 was as stereotypically nasty as the now infamous column from the BBC sports writer Martin Gough.
In fact, Freddie’s obvious contempt for western journalists and Anglo-Saxons far surpassed Gough’s hasty judgement of Guyana and was ever bit as ugly as the article in the current Caribbean Beat by James Fuller, which was all too quick to point out the blemishes of the Caribbean people without mentioning any of the beauty.
Fuller’s article was brought to my attention by the Guyana media critic, who has – much to my disappointment - been quite slow on his blogging lately. I do hope he is just busy with all of the fun of cricket and not retiring his good sense and keen eye on a permanent basis.
Let us return to Freddie’s sweeping comments about western journalists and Anglo-Saxons. I feel it necessary to point out that Freddie was responding to a Bill Cotton (John Mair) column in Stabroek News in which Mair defended Gough’s distasteful assessment of Guyana.
It is not Freddie’s decision to respond that I find offensive; it is the response itself. To my deep disappointment, Freddie said, “Western journalists and travel writers display a deep Freudian superiority complex when describing the Third World. There is the definite instinct that ‘we are more civilised, developed and modern than them and they are the poor and wretched of the earth’.”
I feel this is a bit unfair, since I am in fact a western journalist and do not share these sentiments at all about any Third World country. But Freddie went on, “It is not that we are dismissed as poor, which is the heart of the problem. The western journalist evaluates our human condition by the state of our economy. We are thus classified as flawed human beings, not because we have character faults but because our economy is not developed.”
Again, this is stereotyping all of western journalism as arrogant fiends, a fact that is simply not true. There are scores of western journalists who care about the lives of others outside of their western nation as much as I do and have the capacity to judge a person by his/her true character.
All of this I would debate with my Sweet and Sensitive Freddie, which I may do in person very soon, but it is one of the last of his points that took me by utter surprise. He said, “One senses that a Freudian, racist mind, too, is at work in western journalism that looks down even on the non-Anglo-Saxon world. American, French, British and German reporters do not see Greeks and Northern Italians, Singaporeans and Japanese in the same way they perceive Irish and Anglo-Saxon, and Teutonic societies.”
Are you saying that all of western journalism is racist and uncompassionate? Are there are no good and decent journalists in the western world, Freddie? Is there not even one western journalist who sees those in the third world as equal to those in the western world?
Freddie, my friend, this statement is something I expect from the shallowest of individuals, not from an educated and freethinking mind. In one statement, you swept every caring and respectable journalist in the western world (like me) into the same dustpan as the arrogant and obdurate (like Fuller). I do not deserve such a judgement and there are many more just like me, dear friend.
I do not for one second negate the fact that there are also numerous western journalists who fit your description. They may even be in the majority. However, there are also many of us who stand far from your assessment.
In short, Freddie, your assessment was completely unfair. Moreover, you trapped yourself with your own net in this argument because you became the very person on which you were attempting to condemn. In questioning Gough’s quick assessment of Guyana, you asked if it was his Freudian mind at work. Likewise, you pondered the equivalent of Mair. I now wonder the same of you, dear friend.
You have stepped on my toes, Freddie, and I just bought these new patent leather peep toes. I do hope this was just one song to which you could not groove. Surely you just got caught up in the nastiness of all the mischaracterising and stereotypical writing that seems to be circulating the Caribbean right now for some reason.
I would hate to think we could never groove again since you think so little of this Anglo-Saxon western journalist. Because I must make myself very clear, I do not groove with shallow-minded people – no matter how brilliant they think they are.