Dr Gibson’s book
November 6, 2003
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“The extra-judicial killings in Guyana are not simply a matter of reminding Africans of their place on the social ladder, but to eventually wipe them off the face of the earth so only the civilised will occupy Guyana. Africans are demons and Guyana has to be cleansed of them. The killings of demons is legitimised in the Hindu scriptures. The government has begun with the killings of alleged criminals - under the appropriate political guidance and circumstances, the killings could progress to other Africans in the society.”
One does not expect such a statement to appear in a book written by someone teaching at the University of the West Indies. In an acknowledgment, Dr Gibson thanks the University for the financial support “which made the research for this study possible”. It is true that most of the book is not written in such florid language. But the theme throughout is disturbingly clear, there is a Hindu conspiracy to marginalise and oppress Africans in Guyana, which flows from Hindu philosophy.
Take another passage: “There are similarities between racism as practiced in Guyana and Nazism. Hitler took over existing European racist ideas and practices and converted them into a comprehensive program for a racial new order. The Hindus in Guyana have taken Hindu racist ideology as it applies to India and transformed it to apply to Guyana. Hitler regarded the Jews as the racial group who were the greatest threat and thus constituted the largest single group of victims and were persecuted in a most brutal and intensive manner. Their existence was in conflict with the Nazi dream of beautifying the world. Africans have the same distinction in Guyana. They are seen as the greatest threat to East Indian existence. African existence conflicts with the karmic dream of a state under Hindu hegemony. The other ethnic groups are treated as invisible. There has been no systematic killings of Amerindians, Chinese, East Indians nor Portuguese. The Jews were not only singled out by the Nazis because of so-called signs of physical degeneration or so-called lack of productivity, but also because of their supposed criminality. Their habitual criminal nature not only rightly doomed them to destruction, but a theory of criminality made it easier to accept the murder of Jews. It is a theory of criminality that is being applied to Africans in Guyana and which justifies their destruction and total exclusion from political power.
The main object of social policy during the Third Reich remained the creation of a hierarchical racial new order. Everything else was subordinate to this goal including the regime’s conduct of foreign affairs and the war. The Third Reich was intended to be a racial rather than a class society. The same narrow objective of creating a racial state applies to the current Guyanese government. Other affairs of the nation are secondary to the creation and reproduction of a racist state based on racial criteria.”
A remarkably dangerous thesis of this kind would surely require the most rigorous and extensive research based on hundreds of interviews, a survey of all the relevant literature and a careful weighing of conflicting opinion. In Dr Gibson’s booklet there is no evidence of this, it is eclectic and idiosyncratic.
Random statements are pulled from all sorts of sources, (talk shows, letter columns, casual remarks), and given the status of accepted fact. There is no in-depth probing; no questioning of sources, no consultation with opposing views, no weighing of alternative positions.
Dr Gibson holds no brief for Mr Burnham or the PNC. She refers to his authoritarian rule, the rigged elections, control of the media, senior public officers having to work on an estate at weekends to save their jobs or gain promotion. Indeed she recognises that the extra-judicial killings of Africans started under the PNC, without examining the full implications of that for her thesis which relies heavily on those killings. She refers to the murder of Walter Rodney and the exodus of people from Guyana. Her conclusion on Burnham is as follows: “Burnham’s instinct for self-preservation led to his self-destruction and the declining fortunes of Guyana. His experience and knowledge of the PPP’s racism meant that he felt justified in reducing the power of the PPP, but he went too far. His tenure in office became inhumane in that by trying to get rid of racism he not only created another form of oppression, but he reaffirmed that which he was attempting to eradicate.”
Dr Gibson refers to Hitler and the Nazis. In his book, “Mein Kampf,” (My Struggle), Adolf Hitler revealed his violent anti-semitism and accused the Jews of conspiracy. He later pursued the genocide of the Jews, now known as the Holocaust. More recently in Rwanda the Hutu genocidaires using Radio Mille Collines ascribed evil intentions to the Tutsis and ended up massacring them. It is unhealthy and unwise to play around with such provocative ideas and put them in the public domain as they can lead to entirely unforeseen consequences.
There is ethnic prejudice in Guyana, it is endemic in our history. But can it be seriously argued that this government is involved in a Hindu conspiracy to marginalise Africans, or worse. The PPP has been accepted historically as a Marxist party. Though it is clear that they have in practice relied largely since the split in the original movement on the Indian ethnic vote to win elections, it is passing strange to suggest that a Marxist party has suddenly assumed the mantle of Hinduism. There is certainly no evidence of this in anything the party has said or done, to our knowledge. Whatever the virtues or failings of Marxists they have rarely been accused of being devoted to religious beliefs of any kind, accepting as they do, the ideology of dialectical materialism. That is the sort of contradiction one felt that Dr Gibson should have noticed when propounding her theory. Surely as an elementary act of professional courtesy and academic integrity she should have sought interviews with senior PPP spokesmen for their reaction to her theories. How can you accuse someone of such malevolent intentions without giving them a hearing?
The problems of multi-ethnic, plural societies have been much discussed and much researched. There is a large volume of scholarly work out there. These problems cannot be reduced to the simplistic theory this book propounds, which trivialises the complex issues and forces them into a precast mould.