Strong Man Never Wrong?


Growing up in Jamaica, I often heard the saying, “Strong man never wrong.” It was a reflection of the society of the times.

Jamaica was a colony in which white colonists and British civil servants called the shots. The black majority had no say. They were expected to do as they were told, treat “their betters” with respect and keep their complaints to themselves.

I recall with distaste autocratic civil servants who ran the government, arrogant bullies who owned the plantations, rapacious merchants who dominated the economy and prejudiced bankers who preferentially served the “ruling class” without pretense or shame.

Even the law enforcement and criminal justice systems tended to favor the colonial “upper crust.”

Not everyone in the colonial class “took advantage,” of course. There were well meaning public servants, benevolent “property” owners and honest merchants and bankers.

But the advantage was there to be taken.

This type of oppression could not continue. Alexander Bustamante and Norman Manley emerged to challenge the status quo. There were strikes and riots. The British overlords finally yielded to the pressure, and Jamaica won its independence.

With independence came democracy. And I am sure – with all its shortcomings – their democracy is precious to Jamaicans today.

So you can imagine my horror when I realize that many Americans do not value democracy. They are apparently hankering for a “strong man” society like the one Jamaicans rejected.

They want a boss like the one on the Apprentice TV show, a tyrannical bully who delights in firing underlings.

And I wonder,if they really know what they’re yearning for.

In America, they say, “Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.”

And as a Jamaican transplanted to America, I say, “Amen!”

US democracy under fire