In 1993, Will Smith starred in Six Degrees of Separation, an adaptation of the very successful play of the same name. The title of the film comes from the theory (last and most successfully demonstrated by Cornell University Professor Jon Kleinberg) that everyone on earth is separated by just six people. In fact, actor Kevin Bacon had a very successful television show and has a board game based upon the theory which successfully showed, time and time again, that he was linked to everyone who ever worked in film by just six other people.
Let us now fast forward from a mildly interesting phenomenon of human interaction to the thoughts that created the Virgin Islands EDC program. The currently embattled program invites millionaires and billionaires to move here, not only to swell our treasury, but also presumably to give our best and brightest the opportunity to work with those who have been the most successful in business.
For the most part, it has worked well and provided gainful and profitable employment for our people who have prepared themselves for the opportunities presented by those who have opened companies here.
Mind you, the certification for this program, although both rigorous and vigorous, has always been about money and not moral turpitude on the part of any person who has ever applied for EDC benefits here in the islands.
Nor should it be about moral turpitude. After all, every pot must sit on its own bottom and every person will ultimately be held to their own accounting.
Knowing this, I have to question why an anonymously written front-page article in the Sunday-Monday issue of The Avis, "Accused billionaire linked to VI candidate," would attempt to infer that a gainfully employed Virgin Islander is somehow responsible for alleged actions which have been alleged to have been committed by an EDC beneficiary in a locale more than a thousand miles away.
As Alice would say, curiouser and curiouser is the fact that contrary to the sensationalist headlines, buried in the 14th and 18th paragraphs of this 28-graph story are the facts that the deJongh-Francis campaign has accepted no campaign donations from the EDC beneficiary, and that John's wife, Cecile, is merely an employee of this particular EDC corporation.
Where are these alleged links of which the headline trumpets? Have we all sunk so low that there is now scandal in being gainfully employed?
Of the 28 paragraphs, 21 have absolutely nothing to do with the Virgin Islands, and are mere filler regarding how much money the EDC beneficiary has, pirated facts about the Florida case and what politicians in the U.S. have done with his donations to their campaigns. Again, bear in mind that deJongh has accepted no donations from Epstein. Why the Herculean effort to link him — or any other Virgin Islander working for this EDC company — to Epstein's problems in Florida?
This story has nothing to do with any real concern regarding Mrs. deJongh's employment. It's a thinly veiled attempt to inject some melee into what has been one of the best issue-based gubernatorial campaigns that I've seen in the 20-plus years that I've been home.
I honestly feel that, although I have already made my personal selection, the Virgin Islands have been blessed by their available choices for chief executive. We have three quality candidates to choose from and, in the end, the voters will elect whomever they feel will best run these islands.
I would have thought this sort of below-the-belt journalist bushwhacking would be beneath a local paper, but I hold in my hand evidence to the contrary. I am sure everyone will see it for what it is — just another attempt to confuse the people of the Virgin Islands in order to get them to sway with the melee wind this attack attempts to blow.
As Ouisa Kitteredge, a character in Six Degrees of Separation, said in the film, "Chaos, control. Chaos, control."
Emmett Hansen II
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Editor's note: Emmett Hansen II was a member of the 24th and 25th V.I. Legislatures, holds degrees from Dillard University and the Defense Information School and has taken graduate courses in public administration at the University of the Virgin Islands. He is presently at work on a book about his experiences while in the Legislature.