Friday, October 21, 2005

With a sense of crisis building throughout the country, with the murder count over 300 for the year, another kidnapping on Wednesday, & less than a week after the St. James bombing, the Manning Cabinet met yesterday & made a high-level decision to--sourly boycott the anti-crime march being organised by the Keith Noel 136 Committee tomorrow, on the grounds that the committee was calling it a "Death March", &, in the words of Conrad Enill, "This Government does not understand what a death march is because, you know, we are in the business of peace and life, not death." (Express report here, no permanent link yet to the two Guardian reports.)

Now, I've had some misgivings about the Keith Noel Committee's tactics, & the term "death march" undeniably has horrible historical associations; but Enill's response clearly demonstrates (again! again!) that the Manning government simply does not understand the fear & anger mounting among the populace. As a nation, we're in what most citizens feel is a life-or-death situation. Mr. Manning & his ministers are either incapable of acting as a responsible government should, or else they are refusing to. Either way, it amounts to what I can only call criminal negligence. As the murders & kidnappings & robberies rack up, the flaws in our political system (if you can call it that) are clearer & clearer. The Keith Noel Committee's petition reveals yet again our fundamental problem of representation (who do you present a petition like this to, when our "representatives" make it obvious that they don't feel obliged to represent anyone?). The Manning government's ongoing response to this swelling crime wave reveals the politicians' overriding concern for holding on to power & prestige, whatever the cost to the citizenry. Perhaps what tomorrow's march will reveal is whether enough people are angry enough to (finally! finally!) demand meaningful change.

The Manning government's callous dismissal of the intentions of the march & the Keith Noel Committee suggests that they plan to continue ignoring the crisis. But here's how I reassure myself: every time Mr. Manning or Mrs. Manning or Mr. Enill or any of them stands up & says something stupid & insulting, it makes another fifty or one hundred or two hundred people angry. Sooner or later, I hope, we'll achieve the critical mass of enraged citizenry we need to trigger real change. I've already suggested--in earnest--various acts of mass civil disobedience. Well, the Keith Noel Committee got a permit for tomorrow's march, but maybe next time--maybe next time....

And, if I was wavering before, Mr. Enill has decided me: I'm marching tomorrow, in my 3Canal Diego Martin t-shirt.

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