The culture of “wrong and strong” is a Virgin Islands folly that will be the territory’s undoing. Currently, a significant subset is averse to the new reality of correctly imposed indirect rule from the United Kingdom.
Every resident knows that the current political arrangement was a last-minute intervention to save the VI community from disaster. For years, this writer has warned that a date with a sad fate was on the horizon. He once got into trouble for pointing out an incident of clear corruption. But it is never his style to cry, “I told you so.”
Blaming international law enforcement agencies and the police for doing their due diligence, intelligence work, and investigations in trapping criminals and corrupt officials is simply a rendition to a culture of “wrong and strong” that appears to have taken hold of this community in recent years.
The latest rendition claims that colonialism and racism are the reasons for the authorities taking action against crime. This narrative is false. Then there is the suggestion that the former premier being caught in a drug sting operation in Miami was part of that colonialist plot: nonsense!
Observe the culture of “wrong and strong,” where certain people believe they have the divine right to act outside the Rule of Law.
It is very simple to observe lawlessness in this community. The streets are the common reserve of illegal scooter riders who ride about without helmets and legal papers with an attitude that they are essentially untouchable.
A child assaults another violently, but because of who his parents are there will be no legal ramifications. He gets off scot-free. Worse is the secret code that hides murderers and criminals in various corners of the community.
Of course, this is not a criminal culture unique to the VI. It is a culture of crime endemic in most of the world’s most corrupt societies.
Tolerance for crime is at the root of the culture of entitlement in the VI. The idea that “I can do what I want because I was born here” has led to the lawless and antisocial society we all have to live with today.
‘Poor moral condition’
The Commission of Inquiry and its report and recommendations have highlighted the reality of the poor moral condition of VI society.
Praise for the gangster, scamp and corrupt politician — entities at the root of lawlessness and social and economic underdevelopment in the territory — is key feature in a VI culture where wrong has become right and the “ends justify the means.”
A while back, this writer was talking to a colleague who was resigned to the fact that crime would never be controlled in the VI as long as there was poverty and an opportunity to make a quick buck by illegitimate means. She was partially right, of course. However, that resignation allows the continuation of the nightmare we all live with.
Residents may not see the damage this idea of being “above the law” does to the local morality and culture. Not until sons are incarcerated in prison — or worse, felled by a bullet in a drug deal gone south. The future of a whole generation of young men is under threat because of this culture. Then we complain when “outsiders” arrive to take jobs that our youth should have had? Please!
‘For lesser mortals’
Too many people believe that the law is for lesser mortals. However, a long rope offered to these people is for their hanging. That rope after decades of high tolerance for crime in the territory is over. There is a new reality. The next few years will see investigation on top of investigation. Wrongdoers will be booked, assets gained illegally seized by the state.
The apprehension of the ex-premier may just be the start of a period of investigations that are long overdue.
Paradoxically, these probes began with the ex-premier and a predecessor who is no longer with us adopting hostility to expatriates, especially officials from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.
Most of that behaviour was unjustified. The longsuffering VI public today understands why.
In a land where self-rule was the order of the day, diplomacy would have been far better than hostility in managing relations with UK oversight of self-governance by overseas territories.
Instead, it became the trend for the premier to clash with the sitting governor for no just reason or cause. It appeared the politically expedient thing to do.
However, the reason has become clear after decades of dreadful governance. The reason was to hoodwink Jack and Jill Public about just how much they were being shortchanged in their governance by “leaders” who could care less for the territory, but care deeply for their own pockets.
Every act of governance before the COI was infected with the “what’s in this for me” syndrome.
Patriotism and respect for taxpayers was the least of the concerns of the politician. Power was simply a way of directing resources away from the needs of the territory to the greedy interests of the politician and his friends and family. Nepotism in the VI was on steroids.
Thank God for UK oversight. If there was no oversight, we would all wake up one day to the reality that the poorest countries on earth were better off in terms of their infrastructure than the “wealthy Virgin Islands.”
The Commission of Inquiry came just in time.