I feel sorry for Dr. Rowley: Making Rudeness Great Again


I feel sorry Dr. Keith Rowley and please hear me out.

A year and a half ago I could not have imagine him as Prime Minister but with the possibility of Donald Trump becoming President of the United States, I owe my fellow citizens of Trinidad and Tobago a weird sort of apology. The extent to which some political ideologies pander towards a base they pretty much neglect after the votes are counted is equally present in both countries.

When people say they don’t under the rise of Trump, they are simply unaware of the history of the United States.  For some strange reason after the votes were counted on night of September 7th, what I could no longer imagine became the reality.   A sense of ease came over me to prepare me for the real possibility of a Trump Presidency, should it happen.

I hope you are still following me, as I explain how I understand the political realities of both the United States and T&T.

I did not know what “picong” was until a former colleague and even better friend explained it to me in 2013. At the time, I started writing for the paper, covering politics in Tobago and I thought picong was disgusting. In fact, there was a tint of arrogance in my initial attitude and I failed to apply my understanding of culture in the area of journalism and politics as I typically do in the area of education. Several elections later, my attitude has changed and I understand picong. Spending time and participating in the political process of both countries, the comparisons are a daily presence.

With the curtains coming down on the Obama Presidency like it or not, Trinidad and Tobago will have Keith Rowley for the next four years and seven months; that’s 53 months if you are counting that way. In January 2017, when the United States inaugurates a new President, whether Hillary Clinton or Trump should they both win their respective parties nomination later this summer, the comparison will stop but they will continue and this why I know I will be just fine no matter how it swings.

A Clinton Presidency would be historic for the United States.

Where Obama placed a “historic period” to the line of white male presidents, Hillary would place a historic period to that of the presidency only being held by males. Putting history aside, the blatant and overt racism that we know was there all along fully manifested itself in the United States over the last 8 years. History will not be put aside and we know the sexist jumbie is only waiting to wake up (it probably already is) to give us a good dose of sexism that awaits a Clinton Presidency.

Trinidad and Tobago recently ended a period of having a first female Prime Minister. That is a historical period, not a comma. Whether sexism spiked during that period in Trinidad and Tobago will be left for the readers to determine. Unlike the election of Keith Rowley, where his term as Prime Minister fell directly after a “historic period” not a “historic comma” the election of Kamla in 2010 as a “female” leaves her in a category by herself and this becomes the problem for his legacy  and vomit talk. It is precisely why I feel sorry for Dr. Rowley. He keeps making insinuations towards his immediate predecessor that forces a gendered comparison upon himself that is almost self-emasculating. Yes, every time he attacks, he is cutting off a bit of his nuts.

Trump’s campaign is nothing but crass and vulgarity. I do not agree with it, but I understand it. Dr. Eric Williams despised the “crassness and vulgarity” of the American political system but it is this same crassness and vulgarity that he despised that we embrace as picong today but there is something telling, if not racist and sexist about the direction and flow of this picong.

The historic racism of the United States was already solidified in my mind before I gained adult knowledge that racism existed it Tobago. That was only confirmed when I was writing for the paper and got lesson on picong and that was sadly with the now infamous Calcutta Ship talk. Equal space and place was a lie and I was deeply disappointed and I know enough about cutting off nose to spoil face, Tobagonian pride, bad mind and spite some of which I hate to admit I have.

Nevertheless, picong is about rum shop talk and insinuations and rum is key in politics and culture in T&T. Rum is to Trinidad and Tobago as racism is to the US in politics and culture. So, when Trump talks about making the country great again we know what is suggesting and what he is insinuating. And he reminds us that he speaks the language of poorly educated, whom he loves. He is not politically correct and he states it. Trump is insensitive, tactless, stupid, obtuse, insane, ridiculous and gross and people love it.

So when we get vomit talk thrown our way by our Honorable Prime Minster, I take a greater solace that T&T culture allows us to down enough Puncheon, call it picong and forget about it just like how we forget to solve every other national problem while insulting everyone.

Certainly, none of us would expect bad manners, uncouthness, being unrefined, being ill-mannered, roughness, loutish behavior and plain rudeness from the Obamas but it might be unfair to Trinidad and Tobago to expect anything different. Should we?

So here is what. Let us stop the Obama/Rowley comparison. We need position ourselves for more Trump/Rowley comparisons. When he gets the need to do an upgrade on Air-Force One, we will be ok if he says so because it smells like a can of tuna or that Marine One, the helicopter smelled of piss.

On a serous note, it might be helpful if the current Prime Minister engages the nation in constructive conversation and quit the vomit talk. Whatever political capital he currently has would be best spent on trying to carve a path out where he cannot be compared Kamla but when he engages in vomit talk and attempts to use picong in an insinuating manner towards your immediate female predecessor, it is almost a form of self-emasculation and self-opposition and I feel sorry for him and I don’t know why but self-castration must be painful.

We cannot change the fact that he is the Prime Minister. It is for this reason we respect the Office he holds, but he too must be a respecter of that Office. Despite all the sleaziness of politics and the filthy reality of what politics really is, there is a human side we must not forget that makes me feel sorry him. He was so eager for the job, did a very good job at getting the job, but there is little showing for what legacy he is trying to birth as the leader of the country, but he will lose the comparison battle because Trump has trumped him on being crass and he is left being vulgar.

It is a pity.


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