“Dis a PNP, dis a nuh Miss World,” was the latest soundbite from member of parliament Dr. Dayton Campbell as he addressed attendees at a recent political meeting in Southeast St. Ann. This is not the first time that Dr. Campbell has created a stir by his actions or comments on the political platform. I am infuriated by his comments as they seem to disregard the political career that Lisa Hanna has established over the last several years. I find his comments sexist, at best. To invoke the Miss World title for which Hanna is over 20 years removed was an effort to discredit the work she has done thus far in her fairly young, political life. What bearing does ascertaining the Miss World crown in 1993 have over Hanna’s political leadership currently?
It is time we stop giving our politicians a pass for political gangsterism. I call it a pass because our so call leaders appear to disregard any duty they have to maintain civility in carrying about the business of the nation. Our politics has been degraded to a demonstration of “who badda dan who.” As if that would not suffice, Dr. Campbell’s diatribe indicated that he is a PNP first. It is this type of attitude that has led to Jamaica’s demise. The notion that party loyalty supercedes ones duty to the nation. Regardless of the fact that we are all Jamaicans (as Dayton indicated); responsible leadership dictates that the goodwill of the people of Jamaica and the nation as a whole is paramount to one’s political affiliation. The willingness to commit to the betterment of the nation must override your commitment to your political party. Dr. Campbell’s utterance disregards the intelligence of ordinary Jamaicans. As a well educated individual, Campbell apparently believes that degrading the political platform to one of hooliganism is sufficient to rally political support or to advance the agenda of his colleagues.
Too often we chastise the political correctness of the American media and the society at large. In so doing we have failed to hold our elected officials to a high standard. Is it too much to expect that our leaders should demonstrate a certain level of civility and maturity as they conduct the business of the nation? How can we expect our children to behave in a manner which demonstrates respect for others when our own leaders consistently fail to do the same? It appears that Dr. Campbell is trying to suggest that Hanna’s past as a Miss World representative somehow negates the hard work she has placed in pursuing her tertiary education and committing to serve her country through political leadership. Let us not forget that it was Dr. Campbell who once referred to a Miss Jamaica contestant as being shaped like “the economy.” It is evident that he objectifies women and has a contemptuous disregard for the aspirations of women in “beauty pageants.”
As I listened to the recording from the meeting I could not ignore how familiar the delivery sounded. Recent political gatherings are akin to dancehall sound clashes between rival deejays. Snippets of usually shallow and insignificant information are interspersed between the latest tracks to sounds of applause and the attempts by the speaker to stroke his or her own ego. It therefore should come as no surprise why so many Jamaicans, myself included, are apathetic toward the political process and to voting. Both political parties seem to be motivated by the internal struggle for power as opposed to the future of Jamaica and the construction of a solid foundation for the next generation. In the last few days we have seen first hand the way politicians disregard our expectations of them as leaders (Everald Warmington included). To our elected officials, leadership and civility are mutually exclusive concepts. Let us not be mistaken however; this type of poor leadership will continue, because our vote as nation appears to have a price tag.
I am confident that to Dr. Campbell the uproar over his recent remark is nothing but a nine day wonder of which the “intellectual minority” is making a mountain out of a molehill. Regardless of his opinion there is no doubt that Jamaicans are becoming weary of the political system. For a man who spoke passionately about his family’s struggle growing up and the admiration he had for the women in his life; it’s unfortunate for him to discredit the work of his female colleague by the use of sexist language. Also interesting is the fact that he accused Ms. Hanna of being a social media profiler, another suggestion that was aimed at discrediting her work. Rather than seeing her as a profiler, he perhaps should admire her ability to engage with a generation that is becoming far removed from the political process. No one is saying Ms. Hanna’s work should be free from critique. However, in so doing, give concrete examples of where her leadership has failed or areas that need improvement. Forget the fact that she once wore the Miss World crown and don’t use it to critique her actions as a minister; doing otherwise gives the impression that you’re a misogynist.
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