FRIDAY, NOV. 2: To what degree are voters being fed conspiracy theories in order to solidify political support? More than a bit.
On October 12, on the Bermuda Elections 2012 site, Chris Famous made the following posting on anti-PLP internet bloggers:
“The OBA support base has been extremely active in the RG /Bernews castigating PLP supporters as Sheep ,Kool Aid Drinkers and Blind Loyalist.
“Yet the RG prints their letters and allows them online freedom to cyber castrate their fellow Bermudians.
“The PLP support base is almost like lambs to the slaughter if and when they ever get a LTE printed. As the OBA base descend upon them with scalpel and sledgehammers.
“Not once have I witnessed the OBA high command or the RG state this is wrong. I dare say the OBA has allowed their supporters to run a very unofficial race base campaign since the day they were formed.”
Woah! “Cyber castrate,” you say? The above conspiracy theory can be dismissed for the simple fact that the OBA requires black voters in order to get elected, and insulting blacks would quite obviously cost them black votes. Also, even members of the PLP quietly make the blind loyalty charge, so how do we know that it’s a white person behind these insults?
Finally, these types of offensive comments/images by anonymous bloggers are extremely rare, and it is illogical to assume that they represent the views of 30,000 white people. Besides, shouldn’t far greater concern be given to the offensive comments made by our elected officials and candidates?
The scary thing is that it’s not just PLP bloggers like Famous who are putting forward blogger conspiracy theories.
On August 26, the PLP released a press statement which claimed that Minister Wayne Furbert received an e-mail from a tourist who decided not to travel to Bermuda after reading negative stories in the daily and in anonymous online comments:
In response to this troubling pattern, Minister Furbert noted: “I have read some of the most vile and disgusting comments made anonymously on online forums.
“I even read one comment that said that black Bermudians should, and I quote, ‘for those who blame white people for the situation they are in… don’t… you should blame YOUR ancestors, they were offered a chance to go back to Liberia... they didn’t go.’ That is an unedited quote!”
“We live in a connected world – and, the world is listening. The OBA, their friends in the media and their army of anonymous commenters keep talking down Bermuda at every opportunity.”
The above statement followed a post Furbert made on BE2012 earlier the same day:
“There are those who write via RG, Bernews mainly for political reasons to attack the Government. Have those in the OBA ever thought that they are doing more damage to the people of Bermuda than the Government?
“Here is an email that was sent to me.
“After some discussion and monitoring the newspaper from Bermuda we have decided to pass on vacating there next spring. The environment on the island seems to be negative”.
Michael Dunkley if you want to do something tell your secret troops they are hurting this island.”
Finally, note that this posting was made the morning after The Royal Gazette ran a report on falling tourism numbers, which had approximately 45 mostly-critical comments by the time that Furbert made his secret troops allegation on BE2012. Coincidence? I think not.
Funnily-enough, in August of 2008, the Bermuda Sun was reporting on Furbert’s promotion of an alleged travel pyramid scheme (YTB) that was being being sued by the State of California: “Furbert was unwilling to guess how many Bermudians have failed to make back their investment. He would say only: ‘We have a lot of secret agents walking around Bermuda. Secret agents get in and then don’t tell one person [about the scheme].’” Right...
Now back to the tourists’ e-mail Furbert claimed to receive; three days later, The Royal Gazette printed the actual tourist e-mail exchange:
“After some discussion and monitoring the newspaper from Bermuda we have decided to pass on vacating there next spring. The environment on the island seems to be negative — upswing in crime, declining attitude towards people visiting the Island and in general not a good place to vacation at this time... We love Bermuda the people, the activities and, of course, the environment, but I guess the troubling aspects are the crime and the lack of what appears to be forward progress in terms of hotels and competing with other islands.”
And here lies the big point. Contrary to Furbert’s conspiracy theory about racist bloggers, the tourist’s e-mail had nothing whatsoever in it about racist online comments, and such comments had nothing to do with why they decided to travel to Barbados instead.
Furbert dropped the race card on bloggers, and discussion of falling tourism numbers had deliberately been derailed.
Are there racists in Bermuda? Yes. But Famous and Furbert’s conspiracy theories are really intended to distract us from the real issues we should be worried about, whether they be government performance, falling tourist numbers or how is it that within three years an ex-UBP leader can end up as a PLP Minister of Tourism after being involved in a scheme like YTB.
Bryant Trew, a former Best of Bermuda award winner for his Bermuda Sun columns, is not a member or affiliate of (or in any way associated with) either of Bermuda’s political parties. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
More at www.bryanttrew.com