Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fred Mitchell's Blood libel paints the Bahamian political scene and the 2012 general election in The Bahamas Red

An outrageous and bizarre statement

thenassauguardian editorial

Last week Leader of Government Business in the Senate Dion Foulkes disclosed in the Senate a secret cable from the U.S. Embassy in Nassau appearing on the WikiLeaks website.

The cable included allegations from a public officer in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs alleging that then Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell was involved in a scheme to sell visas to Chinese nationals.

Foulkes tabled the cable after being asked to do so by Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate Allyson Maynard-Gibson.

Following the disclosure and tabling of the cable, Mitchell, the shadow minister of foreign affairs for the official opposition, described Foulkes’ actions as a new low in Bahamian politics.

Bahamians can judge for themselves what they think of Foulkes’ decision to disclose the cable.  We have observed Bahamian politics for many years.  We were also the original publisher of the WikiLeaks cables in The Bahamas.  Our series of stories reporting on these cables can be found on The Nassau Guardian’s website.

Given what we have observed over many years and as well as our decision to publish the WikiLeaks cables, we do not believe that their disclosure in the political arena is in itself problematic in terms of matters of policy and governance.  We would abhor the use of the cables to attack the personal lives of political figures.

What we do believe is a low point and way beyond the pale is comments made by Mitchell in response to Foulkes’ disclosure.  We reported those comments in detail in last Friday’s paper.

Mitchell stated: “I am now before the Bahamian people with clear eyes and I want them to see the whites of my eyes.  What Dion Foulkes has done is a blood libel from which there can be no coming back.”

Mitchell continued: “This blood libel by you [Dion Foulkes] has now set enmity between me and your house.  I take it personally and will deal with you accordingly.  There will be no retreat and no surrender.  You can take that to the bank.”

Mitchell’s comments are not only a low point.  They are bizarre.  They have no place in political discourse.  They have violent connotations.

The term “blood libel” has a particular and terrible history.  It refers to the obscene accusation that a particular group murders others in order to use their blood for various rituals.  Often, the alleged victims are children.

What exactly does Mitchell mean when he says there will be enmity between his house and that of Foulkes?  Is Mitchell threatening violence?  Might this be a matter for the Royal Bahamas Police Force to investigate?

Mitchell should retract various elements of his remarks.  He should apologize to Foulkes.  Failure to do either of these will result in Mitchell doing permanent damage to his credibility.

The opposition must distance itself from Mitchell’s dangerous remarks.  The leader of the opposition should warn Mitchell that there is no place in our politics for talk of “blood libel” and “enmity between me and your house”.

Feb 21, 2012

thenassauguardian editorial