Some time ago a video of a loud, armed, visibly impassioned man appeared on social media – it was none other than Lincoln Bain shooting a gun into the air.
The response was swift and equally emotional. Well-to-do, college-educated Bahamians choked on their Chablis as they stampeded to the virtual square to voice their opinions and proclaim their disapproval. The commentary included allegations of racism, xenophobia, and perhaps more surprisingly, ‘fascism’.
However, it did not include any reasoned discussion of the grievances raised by Mr Bain. Nowhere was a counter-argument to be seen, or any evidence that they had understood and digested Bain’s original argument, which I would summarise as: “Illegal immigrants should not be permitted to destroy Bahamian florae for personal profit.”
Was this grievance dismissed? Why did the 10 percent of Bahamians benefiting from a tertiary education collectively boot up their Macbook Pros and rush to condemn? No one knows, and few are sufficiently curious to examine the issue.
Alas, here we are again. Lincoln Bain is in the news, raising an important issue that many Bahamians are uncomfortable discussing. Let’s take a look at the claim once more and break it down into what exactly is vexing to Bahamians who sympathize with Lincoln Bain.
- Illegal Immigrants – The Bahamas currently plays host to a number of illegally entered Haitians. This runs counter to both the laws, and the will of the people. The practice of welcoming illegal immigrants into the country without due process or applied law is not looked kindly upon. Especially when you compare them to tourists who follow the rules, spend money, and eventually leave.
- Bahamian Florae – The climate conversation in The Bahamas is in large part powered by the ‘champagne conservation’ class. Traipsing around national parks with a glass of champagne, sporting fashionable stickers on the back of Jeep Grand Cherokees, and composing social media posts declaring the virtues of solar power does contribute to awareness. The hypocrisy of declaring the evils of fossil fuels on the latest iPhone is lost on no one, but we ignore it because we are all trying our best. But why is it that we pursue and prosecute Bahamian boaters who catch one or two ‘Summer Crab’ with the full force of the RBDF, when we are silent on the transmutation of 500 acres of Bahamian florae into Haitian charcoal? One of these parties will lose their Boston Whaler, the other is rewarded with the revenue that comes from $50 bags of Cowpen coal. The silence is deafening – where is the commentary from the BNT on this issue? One can crunch the numbers in any direction, it is clear it is neither a question of carbon nor conservation.
- Personal Profit – During the government-imposed ‘Covid lockdowns’, a coconut vendor was famously arrested and fined. Not once, not twice, but three times. A young enterprising Bahamian was forced to pay $800.00 BSD, roughly equal to 400 coconuts (2020 prices), for selling coconuts ‘without a license’. Community outrage was palpable. Just? Perhaps not. We say we are a country of laws. Maybe stricter enforcement of small crimes will nudge us to behave better concerning the big ones. But why would the full hammer of the police force come down on this child for making use of a renewable resource, namely twenty trees worth of coconuts? I would bet illegal immigrants have not gone the proper routes to obtain business licenses, if they don’t respect the country enough to obtain residency permits or travel visas.
Upon analysis, Mr Bain’s arguments seem sound, if I have done a fair job of articulating them. Yet all three have neither been addressed nor rebutted by the email class. Let’s look at the arguments they have put forward:
- Lincoln Bain is racist – This is a substitute for an argument. Even if we were to concede that some Bahamians are ‘racist’ against Haitians, with talk about high cheekbones, and commentary on what ‘type of people they are’, what does this have to do with the illegal occupation and razing of crown land? Surely the social and moral question of whether racism is tolerable or not in society is separate from one of illegal immigration, borders, and national sovereignty? If it seems like a distraction, it is because it is.
- Lincoln Bain is xenophobic – Xenophobia is fear of aliens, fear of the other. It is yet another derogatory epithet used by college-attending Bahamians against common Bahamians… for a perfectly valid sentiment. Firstly – it is reasonable, and very human, to be concerned for the community you live in. The average Bahamian does not live behind pearly white gates with private parking as the college-educated class does. The average Bahamian’s gates are his nation’s borders, and he is concerned with their trespass in the same way elite Bahamians are concerned with their condo security. Secondly, we can see Bahamians are not xenophobic, as we happily welcome tens of thousands of tourists as guests every year! We are not afraid of guests, we are afraid of guests who enter without permission and never leave.
- Lincoln Bain is fascist – This one gave me a chuckle. We have all seen this word be abused and thrown around for the last few years. The term fascist as it is known by historians is used as a description for ‘anti-communist’ or ‘the merging of private business and government power’. Lincoln Bain is neither representing industry, nor the state in any capacity. He is in fact, as per his statements, defending crown land against foreign invaders (if you think invaders is too strong a term, what other term would you use for foreign nationals who trespass your country’s borders illegally to slash and burn acres of protected species of flora). Is this fascism? Is standing up for the Bahamian people, who are so regularly abused and dismissed in their own country fascist behaviour? Is wanting The Bahamas to remain majority Bahamian fascist?
Lincoln Bain may be crass, may be rude, he may even be a little cringe – but he is correct. And more importantly, he is the only Bahamian who has the courage to stand up and speak up for Bahamian interests.
This letter has been truncated.