Anyone with the barest of observation skills must notice the rising level of angst, anger and frustration on the Virgin Islands street.

Some weeks ago, this writer met up with two old friends — illustrious and influential men in this tiny society — on two separate occasions. Interestingly, one man was a member of the governing party, and the other a prominent opposition activist for the opposing party. Their anger at the Commission of Inquiry moving into the territory to investigate governance was palpable.

But what caught this writer was their bitter hatred for United Kingdom Officialdom and their willingness to condone the worst if things “have to go that way.” It was all about the UK wanting to stir up trouble in the VI and take over.

And anyone listening to political rhetoric in past months will clearly hear the drumbeat of “us versus them.” This is a clear attempt to drive a stake through the heart of due process as driven by the COI’s modus operandi. It is a simple attempt to negatively impact the outcome of the inquiry in the public space.

 

‘Rhetoric and emotion’

Dividing society into segments through rhetoric and emotion is a classic control tool utilised by devious leaders everywhere to sow confusion and anger. The idea is to throw a fog over the community and blind residents to what is really going on under the proverbial blanket.

This divisive politics is frequently engineered elsewhere for illegitimate purposes, such as election rigging, ensuring votes of base supporters, or stirring up the mob and creating chaos and breakdown in the social order, such as Donald Trump’s supporters storming Congress after Mr. Trump lost last November.

One of the reasons for a culture that tolerates street crime and illegitimate behaviours — such as illegal scooters, trucks without mufflers, and cars that are clearly illegal to drive — is the silent support for a mob culture by leaders for their own dubious agendas.

Then the latest assertion coming out of the mouth of politicians from all sides of the political spectrum is the allegation that specific people in this society are attempting to undermine Virgin Islanders and make natives feel “inferior and overwhelmed.”

The narrative asserts that natives have a right to this and that, and are entitled to that and that, and that a number of outsiders and aliens are to blame for this society’s troubles presently. In other words, they claim that natives come first, and are required to be specially protected.

But this type of rhetoric places the large percentage who are not native in peril in terms of their human dignity, human rights, quality of life, security and even safety.

 

Division politics

“Them and us” is usually the well sung song offered by desperate politicians before a general election — although it is impossible to tell whether or not an election will be held within the two years following the COI’s findings and recommendations and the governor’s final decision.

Driving ethnic and social division — which in this territory tends to pit belongers and Virgin Islanders against expatriates — is indeed a very dangerous game.

Indeed, intentionally driving a wedge between social and ethnic groups in order to stir up division for a dubious purpose may violate international human rights conventions.

International investors watch such trends closely, and local politicians best be aware of it before a human rights lawsuit gets dropped on the government. That is a possibility under the UK Human Rights Act, which could apply to an overseas territory of the UK.

 

Racism and colonialism

The irony is that a specific set in this territory continually pontificate on racism, discrimination, and colonialism.

However, any intelligent observer will swiftly realise that the statements coming out of the mouths of local leaders smack of just the same discrimination, prejudice and racism — and overtly. These leaders, by their own rhetoric and assertions, drive the racism that they themselves protest against. That is simple hypocrisy.

In any event, various assertions are being pushed on the street corners to residents who really could care less about international affairs: The UK may cut the public service if it intervenes; the territory could be swarmed by UK citizens from the UK mainland who will be given belonger status; and the VI will be taken back to the era of pure colonialism.

Any resident with an iota of common sense will swiftly appreciate that the preceding is a fairy tale being told for nefarious purposes.

And stirring up a street mob to stall due process is a very bad idea indeed. As when the Bastille has been stormed, the mob will finally realise that it has been had and that the Bastille is made of cardboard and is as fake as the perpetrators of the riot.

 

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