End Pirates Week and Batabano

I write to applaud the action of the Leader of Government Business on changing Pirates Week.

There are only two camps on this matter: Those who want the name and the emphasis changed and those who want the name and the emphasis kept. I am sure that the Hon. McKeeva Bush announced the former not the latter, and I support him 100 per cent.

Many people on the island have been discussing how shameful the celebration of piracy is. I know why the festival was started and money, rather than principle, has unfortunately often driven our decisions. But tourists really don’t think much about preserving values, culture and rightness of the places they visit; they care about enjoying themselves and getting their money’s worth. While they are our bread and butter, we have to care about values a lot more. I’d rather die penniless with my values than live an unprincipled life with my money.

I support the cultural activities of Pirates Week, but I totally oppose any celebration of piracy because piracy is a criminal activity. We may have romanticised it, but it was criminal 200 years ago and it is still criminal today. Two hundred years ago pirates used swords; today they use semi-automatic rifles. Pirates of yesteryear raped, pillaged, stole, burned, damaged, tortured and killed. Pirates today are doing the same-although admittedly modern day pirates are a little more humane and are just looking for ransom money. Is that what we want to celebrate?

More than 300 ships have been attacked this past year alone by pirates, and that probably doesn’t include the private yachts. Surely we haven’t forgotten the father that was killed on board his own yacht leaving a mother and infant son to fend for themselves. Give me one good reason why we should celebrate piracy. Money? Tourists? Never. It is not worth it.

Piracy may be a part of Cayman’s history, but it is not a part of the Caymanian heritage or history. When pirates were stopping by these islands – if indeed they did – there were no people. The people who finally settled here were upstanding people, not pirates; therefore we have no piracy in our ancestry.

I am all for teaching about piracy, slavery, the holocaust and the other shameful events in history so that we are sensitized to these things and prevent them from happening again, but I am not for celebrating any of those shameful events of history.

I don’t know what the new name will be, but we can get creative and still attract people to our shores without celebrating criminal activity that spans 300-plus years and will go on as long as there is evil intent in man and a desire to take from those who have.

I publicly state that I am a Christian, and that has made me more sensitive, but the grounds on which I condemn piracy and the celebration of it, is rooted in my humanity, my conscience, my knowledge, and my desire to abide by the law and honour and respect all people. If every good deed and good word will help to build a person’s character, then every bad deed and bad word will chip away at his character. How can we expect our young people to be kind, compassionate, and law abiding if we set this kind of example for them? We are reaping what we are sowing.

No one likes a celebration and a parade better than I do, but both of Cayman’s festivals have a disgraceful element. Let’s put our time, energy, creativity, and money into promoting a celebration that families can come out and feel comfortable about what they will see; where children are awed by the sense of beauty; where tourists see that we are more than a beer-guzzling, gyrating bunch of people; where everyone has a good time; where instead of chipping away at the character of our people, we elevate and enrich their minds.

I challenge the Government and the Rotary Club to invest in the hearts, minds, and characters of our people and come up with an alternative to Pirates Week and Batabano that will cause both of those celebrations to pale in comparison. Let’s think of something where pomp, pageantry, flamboyance, creativity, and beauty will dominate.

For those adults for whom this sounds insipid, I suggest that they exercise their freedom in the confines of their private parties or nightclubs and not on our streets while our innocents look on and observe their terrible example.

Marjorie Ebanks

“…[M]oney, rather than principle, has unfortunately often driven our decisions … While [tourists] are our bread and butter, we have to care about values a lot more.”