Letter to the people of the Virgin Islands: Why do some senators feel that they have the right to shout and be condescending toward individuals during Legislative hearings? It’s because we allow it, we condone it. We are cowards and most of us are too timid to respond to it. When one does respond, the only answer they resort to is “Turn his mic off.” This, to me, is tantamount to cowardice. Is it necessary to resort to aggression to show power? Could it be that in an effort to mask their shortcomings, they resort to these intimidation tactics? This only displays ignorance and contributes to the decay of our society. We must remember that in order to get respect, on must show respect.
The chairperson of the committee conducting the hearing is responsible for maintaining decorum. This includes not allowing committee members to spew venom at the citizens and to protect the testifier from attempts to denigrate him/her.
Many have sacrificed so that we can enjoy certain rights. Those who marched on Washington in 1963 exhibited strength and courage. When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, she exhibited strength and courage. Those demonstrators who protested against segregation although they were being beaten by police exhibited strength and courage. When one demonstrates strength and courage at our legislature, he is referred to as “too damn bold, forward and arrogant.” We must not ignore the privileges which have been paid for with the blood of our ancestors.
It takes a brave soul to admit when he is wrong, as I did during a legislative hearing on Wednesday, August 28. It was established that I was delinquent in submitting copies of our annual financial reports – which the legislature always gets – to the Lt. Governor’s office. It was overlooked, and there was no other answer to give. It is in violation of the laws of the Virgin Islands and will be rectified in short order. However, the laws of the Virgin Islands should be followed by all, including the Legislature of the Virgin Islands. Why hasn’t information requested by the Daily News in regards to an audit of the legislature, which disclosed approximately $6.8 mil unaccounted for, been released in accordance with the Sunshine Law?
As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal,” and we are all guilty of betrayal to this community by remaining silent in regards to the behavior of some of our senators.
We continue to condemn out youth, but they are simply emulating the aggressive style they see from some of our leaders. We must not be guided by melee-mongering, or personal emotion, but by the laws of the land.
While this letter may not be politically feasible, I feel at peace with myself knowing that I have not remained silent on this issue and thankful that I possess the strength and courage to not allow anyone to strip me of my dignity.
Editor’s note: Caswil Callender is the director of the V.I. Carnival Committee.