With God on our side

As I mentioned on the night of triumph of the new leader of Jamaica, it is the only country where you will here a politician say,

God bless you, comrades!

However, the new Prime Minister has created more confusion with her more recent righteous-to-rass statements:

If I am appointed by the Almighty to be Prime Minister, then all of you Christians must give support to the appointment of the Lord. If it is not done, the whip will not be drawn against me, because I am going to be carrying out His will.

So stated Portia Simpson Miller, newly “annointed” Prime Minister of Jamaica, last week at the Rehoboth Apostolic Church in Portmore. If you substituted “Muslims” for “Christians”, then the Taliban would probably agree with her.

Read it again.

That first “if” is ambiguous. It is not a straightforward conditional; rather it is used rhetorically and could be replaced with “because”, thus suggesting that her divine appointment is in fact a given. As a consequence, all true Christians are obligated to support her as Prime Minister. If total support is not forthcoming, then divine retribution will follow, sparing only His Chosen One.

Very neat. Absolute power with absolutely no responsibility.

A few days before this commandment, our new Leader had instructed her Ministers to appoint pastors to either sit on or chair all new boards or government agencies. The response from church leaders was positive yet wary. Canon Ernie Gordon noted that “the separation of church and state has been an American phenomenon, not British, not Caribbean”, adding, “people who are chosen must not be appointed solely because they are clergy persons, but they should be competent and have a passion for the job ahead.”

Church leaders will therefore be chosen for their competency and passion in the subject. However, as opposition leader, Bruce Golding, pointed out, “in every parish there is a Spirit Licencing Board which licenses all the rum bars. There is also the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission and the Caymanas Track Limited” – which leaves one wondering how they will find enough clergy with the necessary competency and passion for boozing and betting.

I only hope the interventions of the annointed one will be more pragmatic than the prayer meeting held last weekend in Spanish Town that called for divine intervention to heal the former Jamaican capital of its bloody scars (21 murders in the last two weeks). “We believe that the old slave masters must have set some level of curse on Spanish Town as in the past it was a central point for the slave trade,” said Bishop Rowan Edwards at the meeting.

Do you still question why there should be a separation of church and state?

If not, stand ready for a national exorcism.

Portia

BREAKING NEWS … first online report …

And so tonight, Jamaica has its first, Prime Minister.

TVJ Prime Time News, 20:00

In all the excitement, the TVJ reporter forgot to clarify that the winner of today’s People’s National Party leadership race was to become Jamaica’s first female Prime Minister!

She was always the people’s favourite©, but because the voting was limited to around 4,000 party delegates, there was a chance that the more conservative delegates would prefer a less flamboyant leader than Portia Simpson Miller. Portia, for almost everyone refers to her thus, was constantly denigrated because of the lack of a Ph.D., unlike her three rivals, who always use their “Dr” title. Most Jamaicans, make that most any nationality, really couldn’t care less if their leader had spent five years on an obscure research topic that interested very very few. (Point of interest: try finding out where and what exactly each of the other three candidates studied; I couldn’t find out much …)

However, results are what count. And on that point, there was little to distinguish the four candidates, all of whom are long-standing Ministers in a government that is widely discredited in its ability to improve the lot of the majority of Jamaicans. Portia, in particular, was attacked in the Jamaica Observer for having represented a constituency in the capital in which there are still shanty residences without running water. Most commenters within her party, however, focus on her supposedly unknown ability to deal with government affairs, despite the fact that she has been an elected party official all her adult life.

My feeling is that the most important thing that Portia brings to the country now is a spirit of change – if nothing else, a change from another over-educated grey-haired man.

Whether there is substance behind the spirit remains to be seen.

I hope so.

P.S. The election victory announcement was made in typically long-winded manner by outgoing Prime Minister PJ Patterson, whose voice is eventually drowned out by Shaggy singing, I wonder if God is a woman.

P.P.S. The People’s National Party is one of the few places where one can hear people address one another as “comrade”; but it is probably the only place where you can hear the leader saying, “God bless Jamaica, comrades”!