OPINION: Too weak to fight, uh-huh…By D.Gisele Isaac

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

Too weak to fight, uh-huh…

By D.Gisele Isaac

Back in 2022, shortly after the Russia-Ukraine broke out, a born-yah Antiguan called my radio show to say he wanted to marry a Ukrainian woman.

I was taken aback at his vehemence, until he explained how – as a patriot, himself – he had been so impressed by the Ukrainian women, who willingly were packing their husbands and sweethearts off to fight, putting their country even before family.  “That ah the kind of woman me want!” he declared.

I have to call that man today to ask what he thinks about Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s position on Ukraine – on which he has doubled down, in spite of his people’s efforts to ameliorate the embarrassing situation.  To ask him what he feels when he compares the instinctive pride and courage of ordinary women whose lives remain in peril to the cowardly capitulation of a head of government who has never fought for a cause in his life – except his own.

The prime minister’s preference for casual surrender – ostensibly on the grounds of saving his people from a more powerful adversary and preventing his country from being laid waste – says to me, in short:  “Since you can’t win, why bother putting up a fight?”

With a mindset like that, is it any wonder that King Court’s revolution failed?  Or, more accurately, that it was betrayed?  Is it any wonder that, in the face of all that currently assails us, so many of our people – the Barbudans excepted – have taken the path of least resistance, because they mistakenly believe  they cannot fight “The Government” and win.

I say “mistakenly” because at least two people – Jack Stroll and Steve Morgan – have shown, of late, that the system can, indeed, be challenged and the Administration can, indeed, be called to account.

I must admit, though, that it makes me sad to note that there are so few homegrown Antiguans who still believe in their own power. Because, while I have heard Mr Stroll declare he will not rest until he has reclaimed every penny he deposited into the Global Bank of Commerce and while I have seen Mr Morgan pit-bulling the prime minister, I’ve listened and looked, in vain, for, say, the 500 former LIAT workers to take that kind of stance.

But that’s not even my biggest worry.  What I fear is that Prime Minister Browne might already have capitulated to a super power on the grounds that he cannot win another election without its money and might.   And, whereas he has said his views on Ukraine’s surrender are his own personal feelings, when he signed those secret Memoranda of Understanding the other day, he was committing you and me, personally, to what we still don’t know.

I used the word “secret” deliberately. Because nowhere in the Throne or Budget  Presentations delivered mere weeks before did our transparent Administration make any mention of these agreements. At no time were we consulted, polled, or even informed that these agreements were under consideration.

And even now, weeks later, the vast majority of us still do not know what our “representatives” have signed us onto – or, worse, what rights or belongings of ours they have signed away.

Some years ago, I attended one of those mega-meetings in Beijing at which China was selling its Belt and Road Initiative, and I heard President Xi Jinping say that his aim is to make every Chinese moderately rich.

I have no doubt that that is exactly what will happen with China’s New Silk Road.  But I know that it will not make every Antiguan and Barbudan even remotely rich – of course, the creatively rich Cabinet excepted… .

There are some conscious nationals who believe the prime minister’s take on Ukraine is little more than parroting the position of the two geopolitical allies.  But while they are concerned about America’s future backlash on our seeming “alliance” with China and Russia, I am concerned about the backlash that is already present.

Because, recently, believe it or not, a Chinese project manager aggressively asked a livestock farmer whose navel string is fertilizing a guinip tree in The Point whether he, the farmer, has title to the land he occupies.

And with other farmers being turfed off “agricultural” lands now discovered to be owned by House Antigua Ltd. (whoever they are), I cannot help but worry about the fight and the surrender to come.

Not to mention my concern about the role of the new, heavily-bodyguarded owner of Barnacle Point and, reportedly, of parts of the YIDA project.  Is he also the owner of the soon-to-be-laid pipeline carrying oil up to the area?  And if he is not entirely, then who in Cabinet is being creatively enriched in that surrender?

… When I was studying African-American literature as a young woman, I was surprised and proud to learn that the struggles of Black Americans and their supporters in the Civil Rights Era had served as an inspiration for the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.

And there was a time,  before all the checks and balances – the press, police, ABEC, Magistrates Court, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, ONDCP, FSRC and the now-CIP-endowed churches – surrendered, when we believed that democracy and ownership and self-determination and race pride were ideals worth fighting for, no matter how formidable the foe.

There was a time when we knew – with confident swagger – that the West Indies Cricket Team could take on the world and win, because we could take the fight to anyone and did.

There was a time when, according to a UWI textbook, Antigua and Barbuda was “the mouse that roared,” taking the great United States of America to the WTO to recoup its losses from the gaming sector.

There was a time. There was a time. …

The theme song of the movie Harriet talks about freedom and self-determination, but most of all, it talks about leadership:

I do what I can when I can while I can for my people/ While the clouds roll back and the stars fill the night/ That’s when I’m gonna stand up/ Take my people with me….

But that was then. And now is when our prime minister says we’re too weak to fight; so tell them to bring the gifts and come.

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