EDITOR, The Tribune.
It appears that foot-in-mouth disease is going around these days. Flat-footed Tennyson “Oligarch” Wells came down with a bad case of it recently and now it appears Cornelius A Smith has caught it too.
Symptoms of the disease appear to be uncontrolled fits of delusion, a high fever of contempt, a propensity to make false accusations and taking full leave on one’s senses.
When he was a child I am sure that C A would have been advised by his parents to look both ways before crossing the street. The consequences for not doing say could be detrimental. Pity C A didn’t take that advice with him later in life.
So incensed was C A that a columnist would dare question his blind faith and loyalty to the leader of the FNM that he put on a suit of self-righteousness, mounted his high horse and proceeded to jostle with a figment of his own imagination.
Boorish C A pulled no punches in declaring that the voices in his head told him that the writer whose publication name is Simon, is really Sir Arthur Foulkes in the flesh.
I don’t know if the former Minister and former Ambassador is a betting man but the dream books say play 102 if you keep seeing a porch in your dreams. Play 606 if you dream about someone named Simon. C A could only have been dreaming when he decided to put the genteel statesman Sir Arthur in his crosshairs. He should check and see what number “fall” on the day he launched his scribbled armada at the wrong target.
Now that his dreams have turned into nightmares and he has been unequivocally proven wrong I can only wonder if C A wants his sumptuous meal of crow served hot or cold and if he fancies a side order of humble pie. He could wash it down with the very bile he produced for the friend he so falsely accused.
Talking fool is always a serious thing. As the songwriter foretold, talking fool has left C A’s reputation lying in the mud. Because he is a former diplomat once accredited to the White House in Washington, DC, Ambassador Smith knows that political temperament must always be modulated. Impetuousness is not a trademark we associate with diplomacy.
When Simon went and metaphorically mashed his corn in the newspaper C A became convinced that only Sir Arthur’s feet could wear such lovely shoes as those that crushed his toe.
Few who practice the craft of writing do so with the finesse and awesome wordsmithing as the now retired head of state, Sir Arthur. Sir Arthur is revered from Inagua in the south to Walkers Cay in the north. One of the architects of freedom, of liberty, of independence and of political party institutionalisation in this country, Sir Arthur is one of the few politicians of his generation to never have been doused with the malodorous stink of corruption of thought, deed or action.
Precedent, modesty and good breeding, not to mention the preservation of the dignity of the Office of Governor General would never permit Sir Arthur to un-sheath his long-retired pen in defence of his good name and his unimpeachable reputation.
I don’t attempt to do so now, because I can never do the man justice. But I do feel a sense of obligation to defend responsible free speech in this country. Simon exercised a right of citizenship in a free country and had published his views on an important political event of our time.
C A enjoys the same right as Simon, but as a former elected official, as a man who feels he still has gas left in the tank to run another lap of public service, C A ought to have known that an unprovoked attack on Sir Arthur was just not cricket.
Talking fool about your friend without one iota of proof or evidence bespeaks a man who is in the throes of political desperation. C A is a freedom fighter who earned his stripes through long and loyal service to the cause of freedom and free speech in the Bahamas.
When he joined that liberation army, Sir Arthur was already a drill sergeant welcoming him into the struggle. They have both served this country admirably in the past. According to C A they are friends. Well mudda sic! With friends like C A, who needs enemies?
If Sir Arthur were my friend and I heard voices inside my head that told of a side of his character that was new to me, I would have picked up the phone and given my buddy a call. That’s called friendship. It also goes by the name respect. Or you can call it loyalty. Others call it simply the right thing to do.
But C A obviously surrounds himself these days with men and women who hear the same voices in their head. Wars have been started on rumours. Lifelong friendships destroyed on hearsay. Bad blood has traversed through the veins of many men, often building up and accelerating on the kinetic energy created by wrong information.
Some years ago someone had the audacity to place a cheeky, if redundant, sign at the top of the beautiful Kaieteur Falls in Guyana. The Kaieteur waterfall is a 750 foot thundering drop (about the same as falling out of a 50-storey building) and next to it was a hand-painted sign that read: “Look before you leap”. It was a last chance to implore the mentally unstable or the foolishly brave to rethink their intentions.
I wish C A were my friend so I could have sent him urgent tweets, Whatsapp messages, Facebook exhortations, urgent texts and used other social media to beseech him to reconsider going off half-cocked against a beloved national icon. Sadly, it is now impossible to un-ring that bell.
As a general rule, we tend to ring-fence those persons who serve in the highest office in the land - that of Governor General. We check our politics at the door and give them the deference they deserve. Witness the silencing of the guns on Dame Marguerite Pindling from the day she was sworn-in as Governor General. We revere the office and respect the office holder.
Some might grumble under their breath or suck their teeth but they would never voice a crude, rude or unsavory opinion of Dame Marguerite in public. She is the embodiment of the Bahamian state and despite her past politics and what one may think of them, as far as I am concerned she has never put her foot wrong in representing us. Neither has Sir Arthur. Nor Arthur Hanna, Dame Ivy Dumont, Sir Orville Turnquest or the other four distinguished Bahamians who have held this high office since 1973.
But then C A Smith, demonstrating his pith, crossed the line and opened fire on the retired former Governor General.
He who attempts to commit regicide must know that he gets but one arrow in his quiver. You shot your load C A. Now clean it up.
June 11, 2016.