The following is a reprint of a series of messages sent to the LOSP website (http://www.landofsixpeoples.com/ ) in 2004 at the height of public submissions to Guyana’s Ethnic Relations Commission as it “investigated” Kean Gibson’s book “The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana”. The very idea of censoring a book, abandoning the idea of scholarly rebuttal, represented a new and dangerous development for Guyana.
For the Christian community, in particular, the implications were clear.
In a local environment teeming with Hindu-Nationalist sentiment, later eloquently characterized by the words of Melanie Phillips (in another country) per the Daily Mail of September 7, 2006: "How Britain is turning Christianity into a crime!" (http://www.melaniephillips.com/articles-new/?p=447 ), it was not surprising that the Christian “representative” on the ERC allegedly “abstained” when called upon to vote on the “banning” of “The Cycle of Racial Oppression in Guyana”. Despite calls that the voting record of the Commissioners be revealed, or thereafter be made mandatory in all decisions, there has been no response from that body.
Fascinating aftershocks to that dubious ruling have been attempts to establish an “Inter-Religious Television Station” (see “Why an Inter-Religious TV Channel is Dangerous for Guyana”), the removal of the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) from the local airwaves (it would be eye-opening to many to find out who has TBN’s local representative in court after having organized an illegal buyout of TBN’s broadcast contractor), TBN’s “replacement” with the substandard broadcast signal from DayStar (DayStar refuses to divulge the names of its local representatives in correspondence from its head office) and an accusation that Christian protests over casino gambling earlier in 2007 represented a “threat to national security” (see http://www.stabroeknews.com/index.pl/article?id=56511661; “The Christian protest against casino gambling presents no threat to national security”).
Kean Gibson sequel to “The Cycle …” has been the equally fascinating treatment: “Sacred Duty: Hinduism and Violence in Guyana”.
THE CASE FOR SCHOLARSHIP IN KEAN GIBSON’S BOOK
April 21, 2004
Correspondence to LOSP website
Much of the criticism of Dr. Gibson's book has so far taken place at an astonishingly simplistic level, and has focused on one particular aspect. This is an injustice to intellect and scholarship. We need to broaden the scope and intensity of the analysis, and this is the first of six parts of that process.
We begin by assessing a lengthy (amounting to a full page) denunciation [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] of the book by one M. Hackett in the Guyana Chronicle of November 14th, 2003. Thereafter, we should consider a similarly lengthy denunciation by Frederick Kissoon, and assess the book chapter by chapter for the issues it raises.
The point is: scholarship must be answered by scholarship ... and truth will out. Demonizing the book serves no useful purpose, and only seems to fuel a belief that "hate-crime" legislation should be enacted. This would be unwise, as explained in the other submissions. Persons should shy away from the emotional style that is fuelling the current verbal debate.
First Hackett. Early on, he makes the careful distinction that he is neither Black nor Indian, and this may explain some of his indecision in trying to decide on what to finally say about Gibson and her work. Consider that the denunciation exists alongside these commendations: (1) “The book is a highly readable page-turner (I read it at one sitting) and the author seems to have a fine and incisive mind except in those instances where her cultural biases and prejudices come to the fore and her language descends to the level of the rag media instead of maintaining a scholarly tone”; (2) I have a strong feeling that she is a very good lecturer; (3) “The book also serves as a warning of future events and is an indication that all is not well in the state of Guyana”; (4) “Whatever it’s raison d’etre, it is undeniably an African perspective of Indian oppression and Indians should take careful note of its message”; and (5) “There is little to complain about and much to praise in the first two chapters” (relative to this last, we note that Gibson sets up the entire thrust of her argument in these two chapters … so where is Hackett really heading?)
What is more revealing in his response is the number of speculatives that bedevil him at the end of his lengthy contribution. For example, specific and direct denunciations like the one above exist alongside rhetoricals such as: (1) Would we have condemned this book if the author were an Indian?; (2) Will this book help to alleviate ethnic tensions or will it aid in further rupturing of the national fabric come 2006?; (3) What is the true purpose of Dr. Gibson’s book?; (4) Would this book have been written if the PNC were still in power?; (5) Why shouldn’t Africans speak out and care when Indians are being oppressed?; (6) Why shouldn’t Indians speak out and care when Africans are being oppressed?.
There are two interpretations to all this, namely: (1) The book has clearly caused the man to THINK … but he himself still denies that he is responding to it! … or; (2) He is just not secure enough to reach or articulate a conclusion by himself. He is, in Dr. Gibson’s words, playing safe lest the paternalistic system of dualism turns against him.
Next, Hackett tries the “peer-review” argument, which is not really an argument at all. It has been settled in the previous pages, but we quote now from Dr. Somdat Mahabir:...."
(The rest of "The Case for Scholarship in Kean Gibson's Book" is found at these locations: http://www.esnips.com/doc/eed7c023-00d5-4e93-9e51-7a5037aa7768/The-Case-For-Scholarship-In-Kean-Gibsons-Book or http://www.esnips.com/web/KeanGibsonsBook