Racial Afterburners

Well the protest achieved exactly what it was always most likely to achieve: the complete opposite outcome the organisers and protesters hoped for. The downside risk to these is always greater than the upside potential.

May I suggest a moratorium on Parliamentary marches against the PLP; they are counter-productive.

If the intent is to publicly vent or feel like you're doing something, then keep marching. If you actually want to be strategic and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome, then accept that the PLP thrive on rancor and extreme partisanship and don't help them out.

The ill-advised antics of one or perhaps two protesters was as predictable as the PLP's disingenuous exaggeration and misrepresentation of what occurred - identical to the Uighur protest.

Zane DeSilva's claim of racism after he was jeered is amusingly bizarre - a smallish group of predominantly elderly white demonstrators demonstrating against a white MP is a new brand of white on white racism one can only conclude. (The PLP's race strategists may want to look up Jump the Shark - or in this case the Jumping the Great White Shark).

Apart from that, the moment the Corporation scheduled a protest is the moment they lost control of the message. All it takes is one person to act stupidly, as the guy who blocked Zane DeSilva's car did (although no-one surrounded it and 'banged on it' - check the video, there was a light tap as one does to signal a driver to pull away - ask garbage collectors), all it takes is one dumb placard and the PLP spin-doctors will get to work mis-characterising things as widespread uncontrolled "anger, rage and racism".

People do dumb things when in crowds. It's a widely researched phenomenon known as collective effervescence.

This stuff is so predictable you can script it. In fact, I pretty much did script it:

...successfully able to pivot and portray the protest as some angry white mob (which it was not). He even dragged his wife out as a prop in front of the crowd, hoping to create a scene.

Note that Zane DeSilva also dragged his wife and son out and immediately condemned the protest as racist. The goal is to create a self-perpetuating theme that all anti-PLP protests are racist.

Marches like this are a key component that the PLP need to get their backbenchers etc. back in line. People should stop helping them.

There is no greater sin for the PLP than one of their MPs publicly siding with a group of predominantly white Bermudians. As soon as they can boil an issue down to "privilege", or today's catchphrase of "unearned privilege", then the PLP MPs fall back in line.

One MP describes this dynamic, particularly during elections, as the 'racial afterburners' - the last two weeks of an election campaign where buttons are pushed, tensions are raised, loyalties are tested and undecideds break disproportionately against the UBP.

Yes, a double standard exists when it comes to protesting in Bermuda. Yes, the PLP can march, rally and attack their opponents with racially loaded offensive language ("House Negroes", "Confused Negroes", "Uncle Toms", intimidate employees and employers etc.) without much condemnation. A different set of rules apply to others, and I for one would rather conduct myself by those rules.

People need to just accept it. For now. This dynamic is an outcome of history. I understand it. I don't see it as a problem. It's just the way it is. So, no more marches and Cabinet lawn protests please.

The irony of course is that the PLP continue to describe Bermuda's social, economic and political environment as one where whites continue to hold the power.

If that were the case these protests wouldn't be happening. These protests only occur because the only power these same - mostly elderly and mostly white - Bermudians hold is that of speaking out. And it has the completely opposite effect than intended, so it isn't even powerful.

The thought process seems to be that we have to do something, so let's protest. Because that's just what you do (and what the PLP did so well historically).

But it's not transferable. This has to be a battle of ideas, not emotions and not partisan loyalties. The path to a more issue driven, rational political environment is to lower the volume, lower the rancor, eliminate the environment where all sides get taken over by their reptilian brains and fall back into historical tribal camps.

People can complain that this is unjust (race - or more accurately history - has a factor in how your protest is perceived or portrayed), or you can accept the reality and take a different approach.

As I wrote prior to the protest, groups of mostly white protesters will box in fence-sitting PLP MPs, however right they are or think they are on the point.

Black Bermudians are still not comfortable coming out in large numbers to march against the PLP, however much they may agree with an issue, and certainly not when led by organisations historically linked/identified as white (Corp. of Ham, UBP). The same dynamic can be seen with black Bermudian driven protests and light white turnout. This cuts both ways. Much of it is about history, and class defining different priorities, but it's there for us all to see.

We've seen a few examples with the Bermuda Union of Teachers, and Friday with the BPSU who notably came out publicly for more dialogue - I suspect because they've had first hand experience with the PLP Government's sincerity around issues such as this.

The Corporation touts the 80% disapproval of the takeover in their poll. However getting a racial cross section of 80% of the population in a poll to agree with you in relative anonymity, and who comes out to visibly demonstrate are not at all connected.

White Bermudians don't lose anything by protesting against the PLP because they are continually vilified and demagogued. The PLP reminds white Bermudians regularly that they don't need their support, although they keep trying to guilt trip people into offering it rather than genuinely asking for it.

What the PLP fail to acknowledge in their complaints about their lack of white support is that by demonizing whites continually they are pushing away white voters.

You can't ask for someone's vote by saying in effect 'You white devils owe us your vote'.

It's insincere. And offensive. The ensuing complaints about lack of white support ring hollow. The tactic is designed to drive whites and blacks into separate camps, not broaden the PLP's white support. Courting demographics in politics are a long established fact of life. Race, age, gender, class, income. I doubt they'll go away.

So please, no more protests. Lower the emotion. Be strategic. Be tactical. Stay focused on the ideas. Debate the merits. Don't take the bait. Play the long game.

Change takes time. Today's status quo is as entrenched now as it was in the 70s and 80s.

I remain convinced that Bermuda's future is worth fighting for. The right way.

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