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Minister Walters, you were wrong!

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02.NOV.07

Editor: One of the daunting realities facing our people today is the seemingly impossible task of controlling propaganda in a free society like ours, and how the protected freedom of the perpetrators increases the fear and vulnerability of their victims.{{more}}

In its truest sense, propaganda is different from other forms of communication, as it consciously employs half-truths, falsehood and misleading information to manipulate feelings and attitudes; propaganda mainly targets the emotions because emotions stir the targeted subjects into a frenzy of impulsive actions.

The actions of Minister Walters were deplorable under any circumstances and are rightly condemned by Vincentains. I, too, wish to state publicly that his actions were totally wrong, and he will have to pay a political price for his actions. However, I must give him credit for apologising publicly for his actions; how many times in the past did we have Ministers of government who accepted responsibility for their error and apologised for it? To err is human, and his apologies spoke volumes in his favour.

If Minister Walters, as a veteran politician, doesn’t understand the value of propaganda, he is in the wrong profession. In this era of call-in programmes, where the real, the unreal and the surreal are deeply entangled, few have the ability to decipher misinformation for what it really is. The NDP radio stations have developed the art of misinformation to a level never seen before in our state. It reminds me that Hitler also understood the value of propaganda. In his famous Mein Kampf, he wrote that for propaganda to be very effective it “must be aimed at the emotions. So the NDP propaganda machine has subtly changed the agenda from intellectual debate on issues that affect our people’s development to character assassination aimed at the emotions of our people.

How can NDP reconcile their sudden high sense of morality with their decision to run a candidate who stoned a church, a crime which he was not arrested for, under the NDP Government? What form of psychoanalysis did Dr Fraser subject him to?

If we are talking about morality in government and Mr Walters should go, then those who are trying to frustrate the Ottley Hall inquiry must stop doing so.

Their actions remind me of the words of Willy Sutton, a professional bank robber in the USA, who stated: “Others accused of defrauding the government of millions of dollars merely got a letter from a committee in Washington asking them to come in and talk it over; maybe it’s justice, but it’s puzzling to a guy like me. “Like Sutton, I am also puzzled that so many bigwigs in NDP are afraid to come and talk it over with the commission that is conducting the Ottley Hall inquiry.

Yet there are valuable lessons for the ULP to learn from this; it is inevitable that when a gap develops between the leadership and the masses, it always provides openings for real enemies. But to deal with this gap in terms of political conspiracies is an ancient and discredited device. Equally, to fail to tackle mistakes merely because their exposure will give comfort to our adversaries is both short-sighted and counter-productive. In keeping with this excessive defensiveness, the ULP is turning friends into foe because they beg to differ.

In this era of empowerment, we have to move away from the Moses type leadership to genuine empowerment of the people. It is also a truism that the brilliance of a Brian Lara classic century was never enough to win a test series. We have to guard ourselves against that, and finally we have to resist the urge to turn mass organisations into transmission belts for decisions taken elsewhere.

In short, the way forward can only be done by a party which wins support through democratic persuasion and ideological contest, a party which focuses on explaining the real issues to our people and resists the temptations to respond to every nuance. ULP must always remember that it is fifteen independent elections they have to fight instead of one.

Deniston Douglas

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