Perkins, Seaga and the Mongrel, Part II

Wilmot Perkins

C: The power of metaphor, Mr Perkins

P: I beg you pardon

C: The power of metaphor by its very nature – analogies, comparisons, are intended to bring with them the literal meaning of a word and apply it in a symbolic way to something else.

P: But if it is the li, if it is is is, it is not the literal meaning that is being applied. It is the symbolic meaning.

C: No, Mr Perkins.

P: Yes ma’am.

C: Literal meaning is being applied symbolically.

P: So Mr Seaga is using the word mongrel as symbolism.

C: Yes Mr Perkins

P: OK fine, we agree on that.

C: No, we don’t agree on it you know. Because what you are saying is that the symbolic meaning of mongrel is not to be applied to the PNP.

P: How you mean the symbolic meaning, of course it is to be applied.

C: The literal, yes

P: The literal meaning of mongrel cannot be applied to the PNP

C: Listen to me Mr Perkins, I listened to you. Your argument is that mongrel literally doesn’t just mean dog, although you didn’t tell that to the listeners earlier. And you said not necessarily dog, but you not even telling them that it means dog. The primary literal meaning

P: Hold on, Miss, Miss Cooper. I’m good at this. When I make statements I’m good at analy, analyzing statements. Don’t try that one with me. If I say, hold on little bit, hold on little bit,

C: Listen to me nuh man!

P: If I say that mong mongrel does not necessarily mean dog that statement implies that it means dog.

C: Alright, but

P: Don’t bring that one to me

C: By saying necessarily what you are trying to do is diminish its literal meaning.

P: No no no no. I am saying that among the things that it means is a dog.

C: Alright.

P: And it means other things as well.

C: OK, so we can move from that point. We both agree

P: Ha ha ha ha ha

C: that mongrel literally means a certain kind of dog.

P: It means a lot of other things, in addition.

C: It also means that.

P: That is one of the things that it means.

C: Next level now. Mongrel also has a symbolic meaning. That is the second thing the dictionary says. It says, “applied to persons as a term of contempt.”

P: Yes. Meaning what, though?

C: Eh?

P: Meaning what?

C: What does, you mean, what does

P: Meaning meaning degenerate.

C: Meaning, well when you say . . .  meaning mix-up.

P: Degenerate.

C: Meaning mixed up, not pure class.

P: No, no, no, no! It means degenerate.

C: It, no, it means just that, no, let me tell you something, you know, some of these definitions, for example, are coming out of white racist notions of

P: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

C: racial purity. Alright.

P: Hold on little bit. What does the word mongrel mean? What does the word mongrel mean in such a context? It means degenerate.

C: Not necessarily degenerate.

P: Degenerate is one of the meanings.

C: Sometimes you get improvement of stock from mixing, you know.

P: No, no. Not, not, no, no, no, no. Not from mongrelizing ma’am.

C: Hmnnn?

P: This again is something that I, hybridizing produces improvement of stock. Not mongrelizing.

C: Well I’m not an expert on hybrids or mongrels. OK?

P: So a hybrid and a mongrel are not necessarily one and the same.

C: No, no, you remember I read the original definition that showed you that a mongrel and hybrid . . .

P: So what I’m suggesting to you is that a mongrel is a degenerate of a species.

C: Alright. Can I ask you a quick question?

P: Yes.

C: Did you think Mr Seaga intended a compliment to the PNP?

P: Of course not. But the PNP has not been particularly complimentary to the to Mr Seaga or the Labour Party and I don’t hear anybody complaining about it.

C: No, well, I, maybe people, maybe, I don’t know why people are not complaining. But a lot of people were upset by the comparison between the Party and the mongrel.

P: But but but why?

C: Why?

P: Why? Because

Hold on just a moment for me. Hold on.

[commercial break]

P: We’re back here with you ma’am. Now if may go back for a moment to what Mr. Seaga said. He said that the People’s National Party today is not the party that it was under Norman Manley’s leadership, nor the party that it was under Michael Manley’s leadership. It has become a mongrel party. Now in the literal meaning of the word mongrel which is an animal of no definable breed, would you say, would you say that Mr M Norman Manley was pure bred or would he be classifiable as a mongrel? In the literal meaning of that word.

C: You are talking about race or ideology?

P: In terms of race. Because, you see, you are suggesting that Mr Seaga was implying a sort of racist, er, er this was an act of racism.

C: When did I say that now Mr Perkins?

P: Well, you brought up the question of racism and European ahm attitudes. So I’m asking you.

C: I was

P: Could you, could we deal with this?

C: Let me answer nuh!

P: Could we deal with it. Is Norman Manley, was Norman Manley a mongrel?

C: Listen to my response based on the dictionary definition which I read earlier. The third definition of mongrel is “a person not of pure race, chiefly disparaging.” And the reason I brought een, ahm, white racism at that point is to explain that, in my view, the reason that a person not of pure race would be seen as a disparaging, ahm you know, reference

P: Let us leave aside

C: Let mi finish nuh, Mr Perkins!

P: Yes mam, but you are taking, you not answering my question.

C: I am coming to answer the question. Why don’t you just listen? The reason I mention racism, especially white racism, is that there’s a, you know, there’s a whole notion of racial purity that is seen as a virtue, you know, by many. There’s a whole history of it. I don’t have to go into it for most of your listeners who are conscious of these issues. That, the reason that it’s disparaging to be mixed race

P: But that is not the issue here ma’am. The issue is whether Norman Manley was a mong, was a person of pure race.

C: Now what I’m trying to get at is that the question of racial purity is being used by Mr Seaga as a way of talking about a degenerate PNP. Now if we go literally to the question of whether Norman Manley was a mongrel in this third sense of a person not of pure race

P: Was he a person of pure race

C: Well, of course, I have problems with “pure race.”

P: Was Norman Manley, whatever pure race is held to mean. But you have been talking about pure race. So don’t tell me you don’t know what pure race means.

C: No, no. What I’m saying, I have, I have ideological problems with

P: Was Norman Manley a person of pure race? Yes or no?

C: Well in the ordinary, everyday, commonsense meaning of pure race, I would think not.

P: No. Was Michael Manley, was Michael Manley a person of pure race?

C: Well, pure, again, in the sense of not being the result of various racial mixings, no.

P: Was, is Edward Seaga a person of pure race?

C: I don’t know Mr

P: You don’t know?

C: Seaga’s pedigree.

P: If I told you

C: And I use pedigree symbolically.

P: If I told you

C: And I am not calling Mr Seaga a dog. I am using pedigree symbolically.

P: If I told you that I happen to know. If I told you that Edward Seaga is not a person of pure race, ahm, would you accept that?

C: Of course. You know him better than I do.

P: So, in other words, then, in other words, listen to what the man is saying

C: I am a man of mixed race

P: The party under Norman Manley

C: Ih hih, was a mixed race party.

P: No, no, no. He’s saying the party, whatever the party was under Norman Manley

C: It was mixed race.

P: No, no, no, no. Yes it the the race, the the I mean all the, Glasspole

C: Now listen to youself.

Florizel Glasspole

P: Glasspole, Wills Isaacs

C: Mr Perkins, fair is fair.

P: Now hold on. Just listen to me for a moment nuh ma’am.

C: Alright. If I listen to you for a moment

P: Mr Glasspole

C: you will listen to me!

P: Mr Glasspole

C: Perkins, if I listen to you will you listen to me?

P: Yes, of course I’ll listen to you.

C: I’m listening.

Wills Isaacs

P: Mr Glasspole, Mr Wills Isaacs, Dr aah Gentleman from Manchester the whole lot of them in that party were all mixed up. Mongrel people from the point of view of the issue of pure race. So is Eddie Seaga himself. Now what, therefore, why do you believe that Eddie Seaga, and you should explain this to me, that Eddie Seaga is using the word mongrel in a racist sense which applies, he’s saying that in Norman Manley’s day, the party was not a mongrel party. In Michael Manley’s day the party was not a mongrel party although PJ Patterson was a member of the party and a high-ranking member of it. What he’s saying is and all the people who are now leaders of the People’s National Party were in the party in Michael Manley’s day when he said the party was not a mongrel party. The party is now a mongrel party, he says. If he is using mongrel in a racist sense then he is being, he is disparaging as much himself and Norman Manley and Michael Manley as he is dis disparaging anybody in the PNP now.

C: Alright.

P: So why have you selected, why have you and other people at the University who should know better, why have you elected to suggest to people that this was a racist remark?

C: Mr Perkins are you going to allow me to answer?

P: Yes, yes. Yes, yes.

C: Are you promising

P: Yes, you go right ahead.

C: you will not interrupt?

P: People are listening to you. You answer

C: Good.

P: Hih, hih, hih, hih, hih!

C: To answer that question how do we make the leap from the symbolic to the literal? – because that is what you’re really dealing with now. What you’re saying is Mr Seaga was speaking at the symbolic level. He was not speaking literally. He was saying that the PNP, the old school PNP had high standards and now it has degenerated. That is the sense of

P: Thank you very much. That is precisely

C: Mr Perkins I thought you said you would listen. Shut up! You are not honouring our contract.

P: That is precisely what he was saying.

C: You are not honouring our contract. You said you would let me speak.

P: But of course you’re speaking. I’m not stopping you.

C: You asked me how did we get from the symbolic domain

P: Ha ha ha ha ha

C: to the literal, and I’m explaining how we got to that domain. So we are in the symbolic domain. Where what he’s talking about is not dogs but the notion of degeneracy.

P: Thank you very much.

C: Good.

P: Precisely what I’ve said.

C: Mr Perkins keep quiet and let me finish nuh!

P: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

Michael Manley

C: You ask me how do we go from the lit, how do we go from that symbolic domain to the literal. Now Mr. Manley senior Mr. Manley junior are mixed race. In the Jamaican context that particular mixture – because is not all mixtures that are equal, you know – that brown mixture

P: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

C: Is associated, you’re listening? Don’t laugh

P: I’m listening, yes, yes.

C: you might miss something important. You asked me to answer a question and I’m answering.

P: I see a torturous piece of reasoning coming up. But go ahead.

C: From the symbolic to the literal. You have been shifting your definition of mongrel between the symbolic and literal domains.

P: I have not been doing any such thing.

C: Yes.

P: That is not true.

C: Mr Perkins keep quiet and mek mi finish mi point nuh.

P: Well don’t accuse me of what I haven’t done.

C: Listen to me.  I’m going to answer you.  How do we get from symbolic to literal?

Literally, as you yourself said earlier, Mr. Manley senior, Mr Manley junior were mixed race. Mongrel in terms of racial definition. In Jamaica, our national motto, “Out of many, one people” at a certain level valorizes, it bigs up brownings. It bigs up mixed race people. This is the standard that many people aspire towards. Many black men have to get light-skinned women to improve the stock of the children.

P: In other words, if you are a mongrel you are a higher caste.

C: Right.

P: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!

C: If you are a mongrel you are high class.

P: Good good.

P.J. Patterson

C: Both Manleys are mongrels in the racial sense. Mr Patterson, who, as he says, if he comes down into the audience looks like the masses, appears to be pure

P: Does he?

C: In certain contexts, purity is not an asset.

P: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha

C: Racial purity in Jamaica, especially if it’s African racial purity, is seen as degeneration. It is a deviation from the high ideal of brownness.

P: How can it be degenerate?

C: Listen to me, Mr Perkins.

P: I don’t understand. You know what degenerate means?

C: I’m explaining how, why black people in this country vex. I am trying to tell you why black people in this country vex when Mr Seaga says a statement which they interpret

P: No!

C: as meaning

P: Hold on just a moment for me, hold on,

C: black people

P: Stop there

C: as dogs

P: Stop there for me nuh please.

C: I’m not going to stop

P: Yes, please stop

C: Unless you are taking a commercial break.



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