Truth to power not hate
In Mr Peter Wickam’s recent article (Sunday Nation, May 25), he has become so angrily one-sided in his attempt to accuse the Christian faith and its scriptures of responsibility for slavery that he fails to face a basic fact.
Let us state the hit-the-nail-on-the-head fact that makes the advertisement Speaking Truth Is Not Homophobia – that stirs his ire – so on target.
Professor Dr Brendan Bain – the man who literally led the region’s fight against HIV/AIDS since 1983 – has been fired by the University of the West Indies, at the instigation of angry activists, for the thought crime of speaking inconvenient truth to their power and their radical agenda for our region.
Mr Wickam also seems to have the same problem Pilate had: “What is truth?” Uttered even as that cowardly governor was about to say: “I find no fault with this man Jesus, but
for politics he must go; crucify him.” (Never mind the obvious injustice.)
Mr Wickam will be deaf to scripture; so let us cite Aristotle in Metaphysics, Book 4, Section 1011b: “Truth says of what is that it is; and of what is not, that it is not, is true.”
Quite simple, and yet, oh, so dangerous to those with powerful agendas that cannot stand up to the light of truth.
For, as a wise man has recently said:
Truth is the ultimate certitude; regardless of whoever denies this reality;
Truth does not need anyone’s approval or acceptance to be truth.
Reality is synonymous with truth and truth is unyielding.
One can choose to ignore it, scorn it, or even curse it, but all to no avail.
Now, Dr Bain’s thought crime is this: he pointed out the scientifically established (and uncontested) fact – truth – that because of certain demonstrably medically dangerous sex acts, there is a particular vulnerability to HIV/AIDS among male homosexuals, whether or not buggery or sodomy laws are on the books. So, instead of going along with using HIV/AIDS as a stalking horse for radical political and cultural agendas, Dr Bain has advised the Belize Supreme Court and the region – on oath to tell the truth and give sound counsel as an expert witness – that our main focus should be that:
“All sexually active persons [not just homosexuals, “all”] must be urged to take responsibility for private and public behaviour change as part of a comprehensive national approach that includes individuals delaying their sexual debut, reducing the number of their intimate sexual partners, getting tested for HIV and other STIs in relation to known risky exposure, learning and practising assertive skills in order to avoid coercive sex, disclosing the presence of an STI to prospective partners, using approved barrier protective devices, avoiding the use of mind-altering drugs – especially during or in temporal proximity to intimate sexual activity, and eliminating behaviours that carry the highest risk of coming into contact with infections . . . .
“In this approach, public and private health and education authorities ensure that everyone in the nation has accurate information and is supported and enabled to take responsibility for the health and safety of self and others.”
Dr Bain then pleads (in vain) for reason rather than rage: “A comprehensive approach calls for honest collaboration rather than confrontation.”
For this, he was fired. Not, because the CHART Centre’s charter calls for abolition of buggery laws (it does not), nor because he violated the trust of the major clients of CHART (public health educators, and so on, or the general public, or even those at risk of AIDS who desperately need to hear and heed Dr Bain’s counsel). No, because he cut across an agenda by speaking unwelcome truth to power.
UWI was cowed by obvious threats to cut funding, and has instead sacrificed academic freedom and has disrespected the right of courts to seek the unfettered truth from expert witnesses in light of their research. Along the way – sadly – the value of a UWI degree just went down drastically, as it seems politically correct indoctrination is now likely to prevail over sound truth, scientific integrity and critical thinking.
All of which should be of sobering concern to every Caribbean citizen and to every parent who is thinking about sending his or her son or daughter to university.
As for Mr Wickam and his hobby horse, blaming the Christian faith and scriptures for slavery, he needs to ask himself why it is that it was Christians, Bibles in hand, who led the fight against slavery. To the point that the motto of the Antislavery Society that we can see in our textbooks, Am I Not A Man And A Brother?, comes straight from the same Bible, in the Book Of Philemon. Which is in fact one of the earliest, most historically significant undermining works against slavery and oppression of women, based on the heart-softening principle of our equality under God and resulting moral worth that demands respect.
It is time for a more balanced, less angry response to issues of our day, especially as the whole region sees one of its major institutions caught red-handed in injustice instigated by radical activists and their appeal to the power of “he who pays the piper calls the tune”.
– TONY JORDAN