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Raffique Shah


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Total disrespect

By Raffique Shah
September 22, 2020

I do not believe that the Commissioner of Police, Captain Gary Griffith, is a foolish man. He may be egotistic, over-sensitive, loquacious, combative. But foolish? No. I make this assessment of him purely by watching him from a distance, listening to his pronouncements on people from every strata of the society whom he perceives as being his critics.

Indeed, I write this column knowing that he will brand me a notorious mutineer, a disgrace to the uniform I once wore and blah, blah, blah. I am not as sensitive as he is, so I simply shrug off such epithets as par for this columnist's course, a reality I have lived with for many years.

Griffith, I was saying, is not a fool, nor is he foolish. He has engaged just about everyone whom he perceived as being antagonistic towards him with fusillades of verbal fire. I have never seen or met him personally. Once, when he was Minister of National Security, he telephoned me at home asking to meet with me. I indicated to him that he would have to visit me at my home since I had stopped driving. I heard nothing more from him after that.

I don't recall exactly when that occurred, but there was hardly a time not to notice Gary. Whatever he did or did not do, he built and operated a publicity machinery that assured him ample column-centimetres in the print media and sound-bytes in the audio-visual stations that grew exponentially when the Internet became the dominant communications instrument. Gary was always there to take advantage of a microphone-on-offer, the envy of other politicians who entered the arena not knowing anything about propaganda.

Such self-promotion saw him emerge as a go-to man who will get the job done, whatever that job may be. He mastered Machiavelli, perhaps without knowing anything about the Italian or Il Principe (The Prince), the infamous 'bible' for absolute rulers authored by the Renaissance man.

For the consummate politician, engaging in continuous warfare is always preferable to inactivity. Where Gary has confounded the theories of Machiavelli, and even the venerable Carl Von Clausewitz', Austrian author of the military strategists' handbook, On Warfare, is he engages multiple 'enemies' simultaneously, whereas the masters of the art advise the opposite. But then, those experts never encountered anything like Griffith.

Here's a warrior like no other who takes on the thousands of criminals who dare to terrorise the population, even as he fires a few volleys at journalists who earn his wrath for their misdeeds. Then he engages cockroaches and vermin from the slums through his rear-view machine gun, and swipes a long-arm-clout to the Prime Minster's head: hypocrite, he bellows, you never summon me, you invite me to your meetings!

Is this fellow for real?

That's total disrespect for the office of the man elected by the majority of the population to lead and govern the country mere weeks ago. Hey, Keith Rowley is not without sin. In fact, I think Gary was correct in pointing out that in the instant case at Westmoorings where fair-skinned people were seen frolicking in a pool, casually flouting Covid-19 regulations, that was private property, and maybe the police needed a warrant to storm it.

Now, I understand the PM's exasperation with the reckless few who are endangering the lives of the many in this fight against Covid-19 through their misconduct. But that should not have triggered an avalanche of abuse of the PM by Gary, in language that and tone that spelt 'disrespect', loud and clear. Why did the Commissioner plunge to such depths? He could have sought a private meeting and show the PM where his assertion was defective.

I suppose Gary will say that's not his style, as he rebuked retired General Ralph Brown when he intervened. This unseemly spat occurred when social media is awash with 'posts' by people young and old who seem to delight in cussing government ministers and other public officials. Total disrespect!

Not surprisingly, there were numerous reports of school children who are using their electronic devices not for learning, but for abusing and disrespecting teachers.

I don't know for certain where this wave of disrespect for authority began, but it is growing into a tsunami that will wash away other values that we once cherished, values that were drummed into our heads almost from birth: manners, politeness, kindness, empathy, honesty, civility.

Gary's open challenge to the PM may signal that he is ready to plunge into the national politics on a law and order platform, similar to Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil and the Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte.

Brace for a rough ride, people. And beware, cockroaches and other human-vermin: Gary's gonna get you...

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