A few days ago, the BBC reported that there is an intensive campaign by some groups in Jamaica and elsewhere to get the outgoing American president to pardon Jamaica’s first National Hero, Marcus Garvey. These campaigners hope to get the pardon before Mr Obama leaves the White House, which is very soon.
However, there are two very good reasons why Garvey should not be pardoned – either because he was guilty of the crime of which he was convicted or not. My position may sound confusing, but both reasons should not only render any pardon worthless, but disrespectful.
First, if Garvey really was guilty of the crimes of which he was convicted in the United States, as claimed by the FBI, then pardoning the man would send a very wrong message to many – not at least, to us here in Jamaica. Imagine having a hero who preached “black pride”, whatever that may be, and then trying to advancing his cause through criminal actions, being pardoned. Worse yet, imagine having a convicted and then pardoned felon being praised as some sort of great man – especially one who always urged his followers to stay within the law.
No, pardoning Garvey of a crime that he may have done, if indeed he did do it, would send the wrong signals. In fact, it would be an insult to Jamaicans. So, for this reason alone, no pardon should be given to him.
However, what if he did not do the crime for which he was convicted of in the United States? Surely, some may argue, that the man should be pardoned on that basis. This is what many of his followers are arguing, claiming that he was framed. However, this is exactly the reason why he should not be pardoned.
Those seeking a pardon are displaying true hypocrisy when they are urging the out-going American president to pardon him. A pardon, by definition, is an admission of guilt. So, what these “Garveyites” are really saying, when pushing for the pardon is that, on the one hand they profess that the man was framed and thus not really guilty, but on the other hand, they are willing to accept that he is guilty just so that he can get the pardon!
What they should be pushing for is an exoneration, which would have been a recognition that the man was not guilty in the first place and thus his record should be clean. However, those pushing for the pardon realize that an exoneration is impossible, so they would rather have the American justice system still have the man as a criminal, albeit a pardoned one. These are the same people who preach black pride!
You know, come to think of it, all of the previous American presidents who were being urged to pardon Garvey probably saw through this ruse and, in at least that sense, were perhaps more proud of the black race than many of these Garvey hypocrites who want to have their cake and still eat it!
Of course, one can understand them trying to push that that ruse with Obama, a black man, which itself is another insult. Those pushing for the pardon probably think that Obama, being black, is not as smart as his white predecessors, so he may not understand this ruse and pardon the man! Some proud black people these Garvey pardon pushers are!
Anyway and thankfully, for our sake Mr Trump, if he is ever presented with such a request, will probably laugh at it (in one of his regular tweets) – and rightly so. Let’s hope Obama will spare us the insult and don’t pardon the man.
Michael A. Dingwall