Discovering Emerging Transformative Leaders from the CaribbeanThe Cowardice of Conviction: Self Image as Friend or Foe - Kwamé RyanRead Now
This week we crave the indulgence of our readers and provide a diversion from our normal blog which would have followed the path of analysing the outcome of the impeachment of Donald Trump, yesterday by the US Congress.
In 2019, GOFAD introduced a track on Caribbean Heroes in which it has so far highlighted Sir George Alleyne, the late Sir Alister McIntyre, the late Leo Edwards, the late Honourable Owen Arthur, and most recently, The Most Honourable P.J Patterson.
This week we introduce a new track to our blog, Discovering Emerging Transformative New World Leaders from the Caribbean. It features a podcast by Kwamé Ryan in a different genre, a haunting audio rendition of what he refers to as “an eight-minute idea”. It is also intended to introduce you to Season 1 of his weekly podcast, launched on December 28, 2020 and released every Wednesday.
Kwamé explains the catalyst for his new venture:
“When the first lockdown happened, I was determined not to let any notion of lost opportunities take hold of me, and since the world was moving online even more than it had been prior, I resolved to boost my own presence there. What is far more important, however, was a feeling that I wanted to show some sides of myself I had previously hidden - my writing and my enthusiasm as a communicator in particular. I don’t know what I was waiting for, but everything has it’s time! All the more energising to get support from close family friends as I step out.”
The topic to which this blog refers, The Cowardice of Conviction: Self Image as Friend or Foe was carried on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the same day as the amplified crisis of democracy in the USA through the ‘attempted coup’ at the US Capitol. It resulted in the unprecedented second impeachment of an America President yesterday (Wednesday, January 13, 2021) by the US Congress. That podcast recorded before the insurrection by Trump’s mob and the desecration of the US Capitol is indeed the triumph of an idea and the prescience of Kwamé. Please listen to the (January 6th) podcast via the link which also provides access to all currently released episodes: https://anchor.fm/eightminuteidea
For those of you who do not know who Kwamé Ryan is: He is the son of Professor Selwyn Ryan and Joya Gomez of Trinidad and Tobago; an internationally renowned conductor who has held symphonic and operatic Artistic Directorships in Germany and France and is regularly invited to lead many of the world’s finest professional ensembles as a guest. Among his professional attachments, Kwamé is Professor and Director of the University of Trinidad and Tobago’s Academy for the Performing Arts and Founding Chairman of the Youth Art NGO Searchlight International, which has, since 2015, provided opportunities for young Caribbean musicians to network and perform with their peers worldwide via the organisation’s Youth Music Exchange (YMX) platform.
A passionate educator, he has been Music Director of the National Youth Orchestra of France, for which work he was made an Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Ministry of Culture and is currently an Associate Conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. He is also a laureate of the prestigious Sabga Award for Caribbean Excellence (2017) and conducted the 2019 BBC Children’s Prom at the Royal Albert Hall. You will find an extensive interview with Kwamé entitled Perfect Circle in the Brunswick Review (September 17, 2020), and further information on his website, links for which are provided below. It is suggested that you first listen to the podcast.
I am sure Kwame would appreciate your feedback via the contact form on his website.
Perfect Circle - Interview with Carlton Wilkinson for Brunswick Review:
I had intended to start this New Year writing a message of hope. This is following the festive greetings on December 20, 2020 with the aspirations of #Hallelujah. I had planned to highlight the prevailing transition of GOFAD perspectives by using references to ten (10) most popular of our fifty 50 blogs in 2020 listed below. After witnessing an attempted coup against the USA Constitution by a delusional president and insurrectionist attempts by a pro Trump mob on Capitol Hill, it transformed my normal optimistic zeal into reflective sadness. It brought back the imagery of the emblematic problem posed in my blog (10/29/2020) The 2020 US Elections and a Post American World in the Balance. It is an image of the diminished global presence and stature of America under Donald Trump. It cast gloom on what the prospect of another Trump term could mean for the erosion of America’s democratic governance structure and even the American civilization envisaged by the Founding Fathers. https://www.globalonefrontier.org/blog/the-2020-elections-and-a-post-american-world-in-the-balance
While we celebrate the certification of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President at the Joint congressional session this morning, and while the Democrats now control the White House, Senate and House, the reality is that the scars of divisiveness and the existential crisis of identity will prevail. The unfolding of events over the last 4 years demonstrates that politics is no longer about finding compromises that can address common problems but about winning a war for one’s own side.
In his book, Why We’re Polarized, Ezra Klein is of the view that America is polarized by identity. This is due to the fact that over the past fifty years, partisan identities have merged with racial, religious, geographic, ideological, and cultural identities. The tragedy as he puts it: “An identity, once adopted, is harder to change than an opinion. An identity that binds you into a community you care about is costly and painful to abandon, and the mind will go to great lengths to avoid abandoning it.”
Trumpism has evolved into a new form of identity in "tribalism" based on conspiracy theories, and abundance of lies. It is consequently irrational and emotionally driven. Moreover, it establishes a politics that is now close to a religion—or is intertwined with religion. According to a Washington Post News Poll (February 14, 2020) an astonishing half of Republicans believe that God chose Trump to save the country from liberalism. And Trump was caught on tape for over an hour angrily spouting QAnon conspiracy theories about voter fraud in an attempt to pressure Georgia state officials to overturn the election result.
These merged identities have nurtured Trumpism as a brand that has hijacked the Republican Party. One TV commentator sadistically referred to Trump's ardent sycophants in the House and Senate as having sealed themselves in a tomb that Donald Trump built. Nowhere is this better illustrated than the 6 and 7 Senators and 100-131 Congresspersons who supported the efforts to overturn the results of the electoral College in the Arizona and Pennsylvania respectively, even after witnessing the dastardly acts of the Pro Trump mob a few hours before. Lawmakers were expected to count and recognize Biden’s victory—as a final “loyalty test”: You’re either with Trump, or you’re against him, no matter the cost. Now that the Presidency has been finally settled, does this mean that there is a foreboding 'civil war' within the Republican Party?. Or is there a more enduring outcome of the political culture which has attained a weight that is breaking much of the politics of the US and tearing the bonds that hold the country together.?
Maybe the answer to these questions is simple. Nancy Pelosi has just signified her intention to invoke the 25th Amendment for immediately removing President Trump from Office. Columnist Bret Stephens 'Impeach and Convict Right Now" New York Times (December 6, 2020) goes further, calling for the president to be removed from office and barred from ever holding office again. “To allow Trump to serve out his term, however brief it may be, puts the nation’s safety at risk, leaves our reputation as a democracy in tatters and evades the inescapable truth that the assault on Congress was an act of violent sedition aided and abetted by a lawless, immoral and terrifying president”
The Props of Social Media, Security and Prayer
There are emerging grey areas. First the digital marketplace of ideas where most people and in particular Trump's base now get their news, is pervasive. Trump fully understands that falsehoods seeded from the White House tweets circulate through the public’s own posts and tweets. But now this prop is being dismantled. Twitter and Facebook have placed a temporary ban on Trumps access to their services. In addition, those who have been cocooned in Facebook groups and fed a steady diet of lies from election-denial outlets like Newsmax and One America News are coming to a realization that especially with the confirmation of Biden as President, there is no grand plan for Mr. Trump to magically retain office.
Second, the lax security for the Pro Trump mob that attacked and desecrated the hallowed halls at the Capitol did not escape attention. Their treatment as patriots is in stark contrast to the massive police-military presence of Black Lives Matter protestors in summer 2020 in Washington DC. Does this have anything to do with institutionalized perceptions of "Black" and "White" ?
Third, as we look to the future, we turn to prayer to stem the tide of chaos displayed on Capitol Hill and of a deeply divided and fractured nation that is the legacy of Trumpism. Bishop Budde of the Washington National Cathedral provides that straw of hope: "we must see the brokenness of our body politic and as President-elect Biden just called each of us to do, we must step up and do what we can to repair the breaches in our life together"
Ten (10) Most Popular of GOFAD's 50 Blogs in 2020
Caribbean Leadership at the UN: Grasping Opportunities to enhance Profile and Influence
Fighting The Contagion of COVID 19: A Different Kind of War
The Contagion of COVID 19: What's Next ?
Caribbean COVID 19: Virtual Reality among Sovereign States
Celebrating Paloma Mohamed Martin: 11th Vice Chancellor of University of Guyana
Remembering Owen Arthur while Highlighting Health Economics in these COVID 19 times.
Electoral Drama Unfolding in the US while Tribalism Persists
The 2020 Elections and a Post American World in the Balance
Can Trump Be Prosecuted?
Dumbfounded! How did Trump get so many Votes?
Edward and Auriol Greene Directors, GOFAD.