It’s da people’s fault!
From the start of their present term, there has been a pattern of the Free National Movement (FNM) blaming both their critics and even the public itself for the consequences of their own incompetence and downright stupidity. This has often been tinged with a cavalier and condescending attitude toward Bahamians in general.
Two years ago, in the midst of a meltdown at Bahamas Power and Light, Minister of Works Desmond Bannister got on television to excoriate the chairwoman with a nasty personalized attack, suggesting she used corporation funds on makeup. Since then, he has presided over the worst era of blackouts in the company’s history.
When Bahamians complained about the massive impact of 12 percent value-added tax on their quality of living, Minister Elsworth Johnson (a man living off the public purse) suggested they should stop spending their money on shopping trips to Florida. He and his colleagues showed a starkly different attitude to Lyford Cay residents when they complained about pitifully low real property taxes, caving in like spineless sycophants instead.
When then-FNM backbencher Reece Chipman took issue with the tone-deaf and regressive policies of the government, the prime minister fired him from the antiquities commission with a still-unexplained parting shot about not tolerating “corruption”.
Instead of the hapless attorney general accounting to the Bahamian people for the money spent pursuing two spectacularly unsuccessful prosecutions of opposition politicians, he chose to impugn the magistrate in one of those cases with an idiotic and doomed appeal of her sound decision.
It should therefore come as no surprise to anyone that a “competent authority” which decided to take a country that had successfully conquered community spread of COVID-19 and open its borders to the world’s epicentre of the virus, would find a way to blame the victims of that stupid act.
But here are the simple facts:
1. The government and the government alone chose to open our borders at a time that the neighbouring US state was the global epicentre of the virus. Any consultation that took place was clearly not with the public, whom they now blame.
2. The same Bahamians who are somehow to blame for the recent surge had, through their behaviour, managed to reduce an initial wave of 104 cases to a mere four active cases and no new infections since June 14, before the border opening.
3. The limits of contact tracing involving tourists means that it is nonsense to claim to know that visitors who came in during the period of open borders have not contributed to community spread, especially since the new pockets of infection include isolated tourist communities in the Berry Islands and Abaco.
4. Among the casualties of the prime minister’s act was a Bahamasair stewardess, who was simply doing her job. Now, she and her colleagues face salary deferments on account of the consequences of his act. How does her story square with the narrative that us Bahamians brought this on ourselves?
5. Atlantis, Baha Mar and Sandals all took the sound decision (well ahead of the opening) to delay their openings in light of a continued uptick of cases in Florida. Whatever trickle of daredevil tourists coming in were therefore never going to justify the risk. A smart government would have followed these hotels’ lead.
But all of these incontrovertible facts (and all of the science and logic that rendered their decision to open the country reckless in the extreme) will do nothing to stop the FNM from what they do best, which is to deflect blame for their actions onto anyone passing by.
Preferably, the target is the Progressive Liberal Party, but failing that, it has increasingly been the public at large.
Now, with a country reeling from three years of their horrendous rule, I half expect a new logo for the FNM’s next campaign: “It’s da people’s fault!” Indeed it is. But I’m willing to bet they won’t make the same mistake next time.
— Andrew Allen