EDITORIAL – Rejecting ‘prejudice’: The day our premier spoke for all of Cayman

“There is no future … in isolationist policies, in over-protectionism and constantly hammering … the source of Cayman’s prosperity.”

– Premier Alden McLaughlin

On Tuesday in the Legislative Assembly, the elected leader of our country stood tall and delivered a principled message of inclusion, decency, judiciousness and foresight.

The premier’s speech represents an important moment for Mr. McLaughlin as a statesman and the Cayman Islands as a society.

When our country first began to achieve success as a financial services and tourism destination, Cayman’s population – local and foreign – was largely unified by a sense of common purpose.

Over the decades – as the expatriates’ share of the population approached 50 percent – amid the accumulating trappings of wealth and the evolving physical landscape of our islands, the appearance of inequality (some real, some perceived) simultaneously began to develop.

Are some individuals in Cayman “better off” than others? Of course.

Is almost everyone in Cayman – to a man, woman and child – “better off” now than they would have been in Cayman’s economy of 60 years ago?

Also of course.

Rather than focusing on the undeniable common prosperity enjoyed by our country and made possible by the mutually beneficial partnership forged generations ago between Caymanians and non-Caymanians – waves of politicians, opportunists and the downright disgruntled have increasingly engaged in oratorical odium that has reverberated within the walls of the Legislative Assembly, been amplified on the campaign trail and echoed throughout the anonymous comments on local websites and social media.

With words and deeds, they have widened the cracks fragmenting our population and caused new fissures to form.

Premier McLaughlin in his House remarks was calling on the people of these islands to reject purposeful divisiveness and the hate speech promulgated by the loud and the few. On the House floor, such speech is protected by parliamentary privilege; in the media it is protected by anonymity.

The premier’s speech was an affirmation of the basic alignment of views of Cayman’s two major parties and leading politicians – Mr. McLaughlin and Speaker McKeeva Bush, who, to give him his due, has long sung from this songsheet.

Of course, there will always be hate-filled voices in our community, and neither the premier, the speaker, or anyone else in our free society should attempt to silence them (unless they breach the boundaries of libel and defamation).

No, the antidote to hate speech, divisive speech or merely speech that we may find disagreeable, paradoxically, is not less speech – but more. We must identify, isolate, and vociferously condemn those who choose to divide us as a small island nation, populated roughly equally by Caymanians and foreign residents who have moved here from more than 100 countries.

In truth, many of Cayman’s actual adversaries exist beyond our borders, and they are launching continual assaults on our country, the fundamental underpinnings of our economic model and our conservative social values.

These are beliefs worth standing up for and, collectively, speaking up for.

5 COMMENTS

  1. My only worry is that this is a complete 180 degree turnaround from what he was saying 10 years ago in support of rollover. Hopefully, it’s an indication that as a politician he’s matured but I’m not holding my breath on that one. Without outside investment and the presence of ex-pats these islands will die – get used to that.

    • David , please come back in about 10- 15 years and tell me who’s right . I must agree that without the outside investors Cayman Islands wouldn’t have developed like it has .
      What i am really saying is that the Government has allowed the development to run away in all directions. And that only certain people are going to be the benefactors of this run away development , and ME and YOU and the Islands would be left as is .

  2. I am a bit confused by this statement: “We must identify, isolate, and vociferously condemn those who choose to divide us ..”

    What exact actions are proposed to “identify, isolate and condemn…”? Why no-one seems to be concerned with this part of the Premier’s speech? Is he proposing a witch hunt? The choice of words is has a threatening tone.

    Everything is perceptual. People think differently. When you don’t understand someone’s perspective often times what they say sometimes sounds a bit ‘bizarre’ to you, or divisive or whatever..

    “If I lived your life, saw what you saw, believed in what you believed, I will be doing and saying and thinking exactly what you are doing and saying and thinking” someone had said. So true. We make judgments, form interpretations, and come to conclusions based on the beliefs we have formed. And that is how it is supposed to be. Silencing those with whom we disagree won’t unite a nation.

    Diversity is an asset in any society, not an enemy.

  3. These came from the Top, remember?

    ““You aren’t even Caymanian, you are like a piece of f&%king driftwood,””; (Osbourne Bodden)
    “Premier calls anti-corruption editorial ‘treasonous'”;
    “Veteran MLA calls homosexuals evil” (Anthony Eden).

    Practice what you preach.

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