The column goes on to discuss “exasperation with America’s obsession with arms that has helped cement it as the most dangerous developed country in the world” … “the wave of mass shootings that have flooded the streets of America with blood” and so forth.
While somewhat hyperbolic, the statements in the column constitute, more or less, fair comment — and under normal circumstances would not arrest our attention. Except for one thing: The source of the editorial, which decries the “crescendo of gunfire from assault rifles and modified handguns across the heartland,” is none other than the Jamaica Gleaner.
The Gleaner, of course, is the flagship newspaper of our dear colonial cousin to the southeast — a vibrant nation, rich in culture and natural resources; a beautiful island that thousands of our local residents still call “home;” and, statistically speaking, one of the most violent places on the planet.
Coincidentally, in Monday’s Compass we published a story about a jump in murders in Jamaica last year, bringing the country’s homicide rate up to about 45 slayings per 100,000 people. For the record, that’s about 10 times as high as the murder rate in the U.S. and three times the homicide rate in Chicago (one of the “murder capitals” of the U.S.), whose population of 2.7 million people is roughly equivalent to that of Jamaica. For the record, Jamaica is an annual fixture in the rankings of the world’s most dangerous countries.
Those numbers, of course, are not surprising. We mention them not to disparage the country of Jamaica, whose history is intertwined with ours in so many ways, nor even primarily to point out the irony of the Gleaner’s editorial condemning gun violence in the far safer country of the U.S.
If that was all the editorial said, we probably would have raised our eyebrows and moved on, without any comment of our own. However, the second half of the editorial goes on to blame the ubiquity of guns in the U.S. for the prevalence of gun violence in Jamaica. “The U.S. government ought to recognize that its porous borders and lax security regime have been allies in the internationalization of American crime, with crippling consequences to Jamaica and other Third World countries that do not have the fiscal capacity or strong governance infrastructure to stem the tide” …
With a few pen strokes, the editorial board of the Gleaner substitutes the reality of homegrown violence in its gang-infested country, perpetrated by Jamaicans against Jamaicans, with the false image of an American insurgency.
People in Jamaica blaming Americans for gun violence in Jamaica is just as nonsensical as people in Cayman blaming Jamaicans for gun violence in Cayman … which, as it so happens, people in Cayman do all the time.
And that is the reason for our editorial — not to criticize the writings of another publication but to illustrate an error in thinking that is all too common (in Cayman, Jamaica and across the world) and, yes, dangerous.
In Jamaica — and to a much lesser extent in Cayman — the crime rate is a local problem — and the eradication of it is a local responsibility. Blaming others is a rhetorical diversion, not a practical solution.