On December 6th the Trinidad Express published a commentary by Dool Hanomansingh attacking Professor Hilary Beckles and myself entitled “Painting the history of Trinidad black” in which he claimed that the world was facing a “predicament” in which “Black people” were, “prepared to deny the facts of history…to suit their own agenda.” This article was actually first published in the Indian Caribbean Diaspora Newsletter (ICDN) on November 19th under the headline “Questions for Professor Hilary Beckles.” This is important to note because the Newsletter is itself is edited by Dool and it is only by reviewing this online publication which features contributions from Sat Maharaj and Kumar Mahabir that a sane person can understand the overarching demented tone of the piece and the “facts of history” which Dool would like to promote.
Take the feature published in the ICDN on October 27th from the pen of his colleague Dr Sally Radforde entitled, “Indo-Caucasians must unite against anti Caucasian activism to save heritage and heirloom.” This title draws on a long discredited 18th century pseudo-scientific idea that whites and Indians are part of the same original master race from the base of the Caucasus mountains and aims to rally racial solidarity to protect reverential monuments to the likes of Milner and Columbus from, “blacks,” who it suggests are “free to re-domicile in ancestral homelands in the African Union instead of, destroying history to create a wasteland in the West Indies.”
This article exposes Dool, Sally and their colleagues as adherents of a branch of the same genocidal racial thinking which animated Lord Milner and so many of the vilest Colonial actors of the late 19th and early 20th century. Not surprisingly therefore, they disparage the research of the Cross Rhodes Freedom Project (CRFP) and by extension the UWI report by Professor Allan Cobley, himself and Englishman, which details Milner’s crimes against Africans, Indians and the Arab world and concludes that he is not “fit and proper” to be revered by the University of the West Indies. They choose instead, without reference to counter evidence of any kind, to celebrate the colonial official as, “an idealist”, “a social reformer and a champion of democracy,” who, “promoted the “Empire as a whole,” which brought, “education, culture, science, architecture, agriculture, engineering, industry and faith based on peace and truth,” and was, “united on a basis of equality and partnership by moral and spiritual bonds.”
This colonial fetishism is a slap in the face of the modern generation of Indian scholars and activists who are speaking out about the atrocities of Imperialism and Colonialism. Shashi Tharoor is a leading light in this regard. The acclaimed Indian author has demonstrated that “before the advent of British rule India was, one of the richest countries on earth producing 23 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product. Yet, over two centuries of looting and exploitation, [famine generated by colonial policy and an orchestrated campaign of divide and rule] Britain reduced it, to one of the poorest, most diseased and most illiterate countries on Earth.”
This reality is familiar to colonised people everywhere but condemning the crimes of empire, does not align with the pernicious and anachronistic racialised world view of Dool and his colleagues or serve their narrow partisan political interests. They will continue to remind us indefinitely that the PNM’s Eric Williams once described Indians as a “recalcitrant minority,” while trying to get us to forget that Milner’s protégé Winston Churchill described Indians as, “a beastly people with a beastly religion.”
Churchill who is honoured prominently in this country and is, in the cross hairs of the Cross-Rhodes Freedom Project is responsible for the Bengal famine which killed over 4 million Indians. According to a recent article in the ‘The Independent’ when British officials begged him to address the issue seeing that entire families were coming into the city and collapsing on the streets he bluntly refused raging that it was their fault for, “breeding like rabbits.”
But these are inconvenient truths for the likes of Hanomansingh and even Gerard Besson who notoriously opposed the renaming of Queen Street in honour of Penny Commisiong and attacked the CRFP claiming, according to an article in the Newsday on Friday October 13th 2017, that we want to remove the Columbus’ statue because, he was a, “white man.” These antagonists see the racializing and politicizing of this discourse as a way to prevent people from dealing with the moral and historical questions that our work encourages the society to confront but we, will not be distracted.
The CRFP has grasped the importance of this historical moment in which a new generation that cuts across racial lines is rescuing public spaces from the celebration of genocide, slavery, indentureship, environmental degradation, racism, inequality, exploitation, gender based violence and social exclusion to honour humanities highest values with its eyes clearly fixed on the future.
This generation which aspires to a better world based on a new architecture of spirit and values has woken up to the contradiction between these aims and the continuing glorification of the main protagonists of the most wicked epochs of human history and it will not go back to sleep.