Larry Marshall: “Nothing But A Red Herring”

August 28, 2014

[Opinion column written by Larry Marshall Sr.] In reading the most recent release of the so called “Nine Colonels” three words come to mind. They are inconsistency, insincerity, and insensitivity. Each will be addressed accordingly.

In this release the group expressed full support for Premier Dunkley’s approach in dealing with conscription.

They commended him for lengthening the process to eliminate conscription and criticized the Opposition Shadow Minister for imploring the Premier to act expeditiously.

In doing so the group exposed itself as inconsistent. This despite assurances from the spokesman who said: “We have tried to do that in a neutral, non-confrontational and respectful way and we believe most of those for whom our message was intended have understood and appreciated that.”

Really? Tried to be neutral? Why then did the nine not criticize then Sen. Dunkley when he continuously criticized the then PLP Government for reneging on their on its promise to end conscription. Why no press release when the then Senator Dunkley stated in the Senate, as reported on November 25, 2011 in the newspaper,”Conscription is past its sell-by date.” Why not criticize him for not letting the PLP to do their job?”

That deafening silence from these former colonels exposes their inconsistency and reveals their true colors are as it relates to which political party they support and why. How can they talk about being neutral out of one side their mouth and out of the other criticize the Opposition for using this issue to get votes. Why did they not interpret then Sen. Dunkley’s most vociferous support of Bermudians Against the Draft as an attempt to get votes especially considering we were heading into an election.

The second word which comes to mind is insincerity. Of course they support the Premier’s “plan” because he is doing exactly what they want him to do. In essence his plan is their plan. They are well aware that conscription is not being phased out but rather the process is being dragged out unnecessarily and they all know why.

And to suggest that the conscription cannot be removed overnight or at the blink of an eye is most disingenuous. At no time have we ever suggested it be dealt with in such a manner although it could have been and Bermuda would have been a much better place. Yet there is a tremendous difference between being doing something overnight and not doing anything at all for an incredible twenty months. Then to say the phasing out process will not begin for another sixteen months adds insult to injury.

So three years to begin the process when it should have been completed at least by that time insults the intelligence of the Bermudian public. This means six years in total causing many people to be suspicious. To believe that something is just not right and for good reason.

Now to put this ridiculously long process in perspective consider that in 1992 the South African Defence Force, immediately after apartheid was dismantled, began to move from conscription to volunteerism. The entire process took place in just three years and this was an army of 78,000 strong. And it was in a country which had serious racial problems and had been denied democracy for over fifty years. Yet they were able to make the transition in just three years and here we are in a country with a much smaller army with far less relevance and we are talking about a six year process. Not acceptable!

But the former officers, who come up with every reason imaginable as to why volunteerism cannot work, support the Premier’s plan. Perhaps it’s because what resonates most with them is the Premier’s recent condescending, dictatorial, and dismissive approach to this issue. This corresponds with the barracks mentality at Warwick Camp where according to the Shadow Minister Mr. Roban “orders are barked out and obeyed with deafening silence.”

It would appear this is what expected of both the Opposition and the anti-draft movement according to a statement continuously released either by the Premier or on his behalf which is as follows: “This change will take time, money, and planning and no amount of planning will make it happen any sooner.” So now the Premier feels he can predetermine the outcome of any action as he is in charge. Just like when he declared Jetgate, Deadgate and we all know how that turned out. And again for emphasis this is the same person who repeatedly implored the PLP when in Government to deal with the issue expeditiously.

Finally we deal with the insensitivity of the nine, and the Premier, regarding blatant human rights violations and the inevitable abuses. For at no time will you either hear or read any statement from them acknowledging the inarguable, the indisputable fact that conscription violates several fundamental human rights.

This is particularly disturbing considering that they, more than anyone else, are acutely aware of the immense suffering inflicted by this oppressive institution upon an innumerable amount of young men and their parents over the past forty-nine years.

That is most reprehensible and explains why the nine, along with the Premier, go to such great lengths trying to deflect attention from the core issue which is human rights violations. As a consequence the emphasis is instead placed on national security which is nothing but a red herring. A red herring of course is something that draws attention away from the central issue.

The reason for this strategy is quite obvious. By refusing to even acknowledge human rights it absolves the Premier of the responsibility to act expeditiously on this issue. We cannot allow this most important human rights issue to be hijacked by those who are willing to be so cold and callous to the plight of young men forced by law into an institution which can literaly trample upon their most basic human rights.

Conscription is wrong and should be abolished now to insure no more young are victimized any more. Please don’t talk about national security within the context of a system which has no place in a democracy.

- Larry Marshall

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Comments (53)

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  1. Lois Frederick says:

    “…this change will take time, money and planning and no amount of campaigning to the contrary will make it happen any sooner.”

    Premier Dunkley

    • frank says:

      dismantle the dam regiment and save some money

    • Good day Ms.Frederick,

      Due to a recent change in legislation to ensure gender gender equality in all areas women can now be drafted. Due to your continued support of our illustrious institution and the Premier you have been selected as one of our first female draftees.

      Should you object please understand that you will be subject to arrest and possible incarceration. Also understand that while here several human rights are not protected. As a consequence you will be subjected to profanity, vulgarity, and even physical abuse. And the pay is ridiculously low with fines being exacted on a regular basis.

      But the good news Ms. Frederick is that this will only last for another five years. Cherrio.

      • LiarLiar says:

        Oh no!

        Not profanity and vulgarity!

        No more boys nights for me.

      • JH says:

        If you had fought it on sex discrimination from the start, you would have most likely succeeded. Instead you chose to make it a race issue when it wasn’t. Of course more blacks are picked for the regiment – there are more blacks in Bermuda – so what do you expect? More blacks probably get headaches too – again becauses there are more of blacks than whites. But fighting this on race was never going to work. If you’d claimed sex discrimination this would not even be a topic – you would have won.

        • Please do some research before commenting as your ignorance is evident. We did fight on gender discrimination all the way to the Privy Council and lost.

          As far as me making it about race it was about race long before we started B.A.D. The white government of 1965 made it about race when they set up a system whereby a disproportionate number of young black men were conscripted in a regiment run by a disproportionate number of white officers.(Please check dictionary for the meaning of disproportionate)Look at the racial make-up of the nine and even you will see the point.

          • JHerald says:

            Sir, I listened to it day after day, and you quite clearly went on a race basis. Sing a different song if you want. The impression you and your legal team gave time and time again was that you were pissed off that the regiment lottery picked more blacks than whites. You screwed up, why not admit it?

            You followed the PLP instruction book to blame race pure and simple. I say again: If you had based it on gender, you would have won.

            If you and your legal team did in fact base it on gender -then you did a terrible job because the impression you gave absolutely everyone was that, as I said above, you were pissed off that a raffle drawing drew more blacks than whites – when the majority of names in the hat were black.

            At no time EVER did I hear it was based on gender – and if the House of Lords thought it was – they would have found in your favour. It was based on race pure and simple. So sorry you lost but you got really really bad legal advice from total morons.

            Move on and get over it, It is not my fault – it is yours.

            • JHerald says:

              In addition, I don’t know who the 9 are or what colour they are. your last sentence just goes to prove how obsessed with colour you are.

              Check the dictionary for the meaning of obsessed.

            • Oh boy it is so difficult dealing with people who are intellectually dishonest. Just because you did not hear about our gender argument it did not exist? It was argued before the Privy Council in 2010 after being argued at our Supreme Court and Court of Appeal.

              Therefore you were wrong when you stated that we should have made the gender argument which we already had. Your unwillingness to admit wrong on this point exposes you as one who does not wish to engage in honest debate. Check the newspaper articles on the aforementioned cases and they will substantiate that that argument was made.

            • Double D says:

              Agreed completely!

              I supported BAD in their initial arguments until they went off on a racial tangent after awhile. Once that became the central piece of their argument I stopped listening.

              Sorry Mr. Marshall, but this white boy was drafted along with every other white boy I grew up with. We all had to do at least 3 years along with every other black Bermudian that was conscripted.

              As noted there are more blacks drafted because you outnumber the whites. Pure and simple.

          • Barracuda says:

            Your rudeness doesn’t help either.

          • The letter following this sent in by “Opinions Matters” says it all…

  2. Opinions Mattter says:

    Mr Marshall, I am confused. What are you getting at?
    Is conscription due to end? Yes
    Will it happen “over night”? No
    Did it happen over night in the examples you gave? No
    Did the PLP end conscription? No
    Did not the PLP fight you and BAD to the privy court to uphold conscription? Yes

    Oh wait, so rather than praise the fact conscription is ended and being phased out (as you want) you play the victim card because it is not being done immediately.

  3. watching says:

    Well said Mr. Marshall.

    • Hmmm says:

      “In 1989 in response to a national defiance campaign the ECC “unbanned” itself and resumed business. Soon after conscription, was cut from two years to one and after 1990 it was effectively phased out, officially ending in 1993.” ECC – South African history online

      No Larry Marshall, it conscription changed from 2 years to one year in 1990 and phased out, officially ending in 1993.

      That is 3 to 4 years. Not Overnight.

      • Hmmm says:

        It didn’t actually end then either………..

        From End Conscription Campaign (wikipeadia)

        “On 24 August 1993 Minister of Defence Kobie Coetsee announced the end of conscription. In 1994 there would be no more call-ups for the one-year initial training. But although conscription was suspended it was not entirely abandoned. Indeed in January 1994 for the first time there was no call-up for initial training, but at the same time conscripts who had already undergone training could be subject to “camp” call-ups, as they were technically subject to military law rather than civilian law. Actually “camp” call-ups reached record proportions over the period of the April 1994 elections, and for the first time in history the ECC called on conscripts to consider these call-ups to be different from previous call-ups”

  4. aceboy says:

    When you rush mistakes are made. Just ask the PLP about that. Unintended consequences arise.

    Calm down Mr. Marshall. I support your cause but you are acting like a baby.

    • LOL (Original TM*) says:

      I’m white and I support his cuase but when they council started talking about race they lost it. When I was in the reginment the people barking orders at me were all black with the exception of the CO of support. Lame was the LT Col. at the time

  5. Conservative, Right or Left Wing? says:

    Why didn’t they issue a statement when witness in Brangman case gave evidence of culture of harassment on weaker recruits ?

  6. Triangle Drifter says:

    Stop whining. Your moment of fame is over. Finally a Government has been elected that is dealing with it & before too long conscription will be over. The Regiment as it is today will be a relic of the past.

    It is not as easy as a stroke of the pen. No previous Government did anything to begin the process of changing the Regiment so the OBA is having to start at ground zero, along with all the other issues which need dealing with.

    The Regiment may be a top priority item on your list but it is not a top priority on the OBA list, nor should it be.

  7. Southampton says:

    Larry, Just give up. Is it so important that these little boys not be exposed to a little loud mouthing ( which they probably deserve )or are allowed to be exposed to some discipline finally in their lives? If they lived in the US during the time when the draft was used, they would be crying to their mother and father.

    Let them grow up and be a man for their country. MAYBE YOU WANT THEM TO BE LITTLE LITTLE BOYS THE REST OF THEIR LIFE!!!!!

    • Interesting that you refer to young black men in their thirties who are fighting for human rights as “little boys.” Also interesting that they have fought publicly and not behind the cowardly cloak of anonymity yet they are “little boys.”

      So tell me Southampton. What are you? And how old does a black man have to be before people like you stop calling him boy?

      • Hmmm says:

        Wow, where did the race thing come from Larry? Southampton never mentioned race.

        • Rockfish#1 says:

          Don’t wait for Marshall to answer that question. It conflicts with his real agenda!

      • LOL (Original TM*) says:

        Hey ever heard the term “white boy” same disrespect yes?


  8. MR. Wisdom says:

    Once again, people are commenting without thinking. Keep up the good work Mr. Marshall. It should not take this long to end conscription. Dunkley is playing politics and he knows it.

    • Opinions Mattter says:

      SO how would you end it and how long would you take?

      • MR. Wisdom says:

        I will end with the stroke of a pen right now because there is no excuse for slavery of any kind in a free society.

        Also, if you had any idea the deplorable treatment these young men are subjected to, you’d end it tonight as well.

        • Hmmm says:

          Facts and evidence. Stand up and be counted. Give your names and declare your experience.

          I want conscription gone too and we have been given a time frame when this will happen by the OBA.

          • LOL (Original TM*) says:

            It the PLP even broker this issued at all when they were in.


  9. Terry says:

    Valid points Drifter.

  10. Was Rome buit in a day? No. Have you not heard the phrase Good things come to those that wait. What is your problem, it will end or would you rather a political blunder like PRC thanks to what party RUSHING and not thinking things thru. I say keep the regiment anyway. My opinion.

  11. Real Talk (original) says:

    Ironic that granting citizenship to PRCs is a human rights issue, but doing away with conscription, also a human right issue, will take another 5 years.

    Selective political expediency yet again.

    • Rhonnie aka BlueFamiliar says:

      The PRC issue is already law. Doing a full and proper change of the immigration laws is going to take a while.

      Conscription is law. Doing a full and proper removal of conscription is going to take a while.

      Seems to me it’s the same thing in both instances. The government taking it’s time in order to do it correctly.

    • LiarLiar says:

      Nothing was changed for the PRC situation. This Government did not grant anything to anybody, despite your persistent allegations. The PLP knew about this clause and its effects as early as September 2012. Why didn’t the PLP, when they had the power, eliminate this particular section of the legislation?

      On the other hand eliminating conscription must be carried out in a way that doesn’t cause the collapse of the regiment. We need this organization whether you agree with it or not. Or don’t you care about these particular civil servants losing their jobs by a rushed amendment?

  12. VJ says:

    I agree. Mr. Marshall needs to sit down and stop his whining.

    He had ZERO interest in this issue until he had to bail his son out. Old enough for the regiment, old enough to fight your own battles.

  13. Takbir Karriem Sharrieff says:

    Bo hoo boo hooo boo hoo….why are you crying….I am crying because I have to be in the Army…..what is the problem….boo hoo hoohoo hoo hoo I want exemption….so why not apply for exemption???……bo hoo hoo boo hoo because I am already exempted….Bo hoo why are you exempted….? because I am a coward.!.They do not want sissies like me….bo ho hoo hoo……..????????????? yawnnnnnnnn hom ho hum zzzzzzzzzzz

    • Concerned Citizen says:

      Takbir, why are you such a hypocrite? One moment you are against “the system,” next moment you are defending it! But I understand, it’s in your DNA

  14. Southampton says:

    Continue as it is. It will not hurt these poor little boys.

  15. Triangle Drifter says:

    I see nothing wrong with some sort of community service being required of young people such as Police reserves, charitable work, seniors home work (just to give them company), hurricane clean up crew stand by list & yes even the Regiment, but I suspect that the Larry Marshalls of Bermuda have no interest in serving Bermuda unless handsomely paid.

    • Oh like the Regiment officers. Foster-Brown $152,000 per annum but of course he “serves” out of a love for our country. And the “community service” you speak of is actually an extension of the current system of forced labor we already have.

      • Triangle Drifter says:

        You don’t want to do anything for the place you call home, by conscription or voluntarily. Gotcha. We all see where you are coming from. I’ll bet that if we get a storm & the Island is trashed you will clean up to the boundary of your property & not an inch more. You will be one of those seen driving around sightseeing expecting somebody else to clear the road for you because you are not getting out of your car to help.

        There are lots of Larry Marshalls in Bermuda.

        • more than enough says:

          What an idiotic outlook!

          There is no lack of triangle drifters in bermuda.

      • more than enough says:

        Furthermore our children are already over burdened with community service (mandatory) in school, every year.
        It is my opinion that the regiment is a complete waste of money and time. Time which our young people could be spending on their education. Time with which they could use learning the art of self discipline, pursuing a career, and becoming a responsible, contributing member of our community.
        Time which is instead, taken, by force, I may add. To be forced to do all manner of unnecessary foolishness,and to be forced to parade around in some clown suit.
        This use of force is far from discipline.
        Why don’t we have an army of old farts who are consripted in as soon as their income goes over the taxable amount ie $750,000 then we shouldn’t have to pay them at all.
        The rgiment

        • more than enough says:

          The regiment is unsustainable and should promptly take it’s rightful place in a museum. R.I.P.

  16. Coffee says:

    Larry , why don’t you join the ruling party and move the furniture from the inside . How many times did you entertain Michael Dunkley in your house ? I think it’s time you visit his house , sit on his couch and drink his milk and lie and smile !

  17. sebring says:

    Doing away with the regiment is a huge mistake ! this will only bring about a mixture of military trained cops ! translation political football ! so that when the pólice forcé is militarised it was the people,s choice ! no lost votes either way! various countries are reluctant of having military on the home soil so the come up with new divisions ., there are several that are comonly Heard in the movies but how about the ones that are yet to be made under the pretence !

    A gendarmerie or gendarmery (/dʒɛnˈdɑrməri/ or /ʒɑːnˈdɑrməri/) is, in principle, a military[1] force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called “gendarmes”. These units are also associated with other descriptions, such as maréchaussée (marshalry) or Guard or Constabulary. The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes gendarme as “a soldier who is employed on police duties” and a “gendarmery, -erie” as “gendarmes as a body”.

    Sometimes forces that are no longer military still use the title for historic reasons, in the same manner as many other units use obsolete military titles (such as “hussars”, “cuirassiers”, etc.) but these are not strictly gendarmeries. The system of militarily organized police departments enlarged upon Europe since the Napoleonic era as well as in many former French colonies and mandated territories

    many latin american countries are begining to have them !

    Be very carefull what you ask for !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    i knew a few guys in years gone by…that absolutely refused to touch or learn about weapons…and endured a vicious tongue lashing…absolutely refused to adhere to the proper dress code…and endured a vicious tongue lashing…absolutely refused to participate in activities…and endured a vicious tongue lashing…all they did was sat around like a rock…did a few nights in the lock up, up there…shortly after that the were dismissed or exempted from all regimental duties. Now thats a rebel with a cause, and respect to them men…they probably would have been excellent military men…if we cant move them …maybe the enemy wont be able to move them either…now on the other hand if you just don’t wanna go camp or being in earshot of profanities or vulgarities then i suggest you just go home and stay in your comfortable little bubble…because its everywhere you go.

    ps. on a last thought…obviously you’re not paying the right people.
    todays racism:
    no matter of color…that was the last Millennium…come on catch up…its a whole New World -_-_-.

  19. ComeOnBermuda says:

    Larry – What are you still whining about? Conscription is coming to an end. Sorry that you aren’t getting the credit you so badly want.

    Additionally, as a conscripted member of the regiment currently, I can assure you, despite your unwillingness to believe it, that the Regiment does not make victims of anyone. If anything, it makes our young Bermudians into better Bermudians.

    Of course your rebuttal would likely involve the actions of one or more individuals in the past that may have in fact victimized members of the Regiment. However, these were the actions of individuals, and do not represent the Regiment as a whole.

    In closing, do I agree with conscription? No. But the Regiment is not the demonic abusive and right infringing institution that you make it out to be. You’re hatred and unfounded assumptions only show your lack of understanding of the truth and the need for you to direct a deep seeded anger at… something.

  20. soul jah says:

    If I’m correct its the only job your forced to do that doesn’t require DRUG testing.
    I could be wrong help me out.

    • Double D says:

      If it required drug testing conscription and by extension the regiment would have folded years ago!

  21. soul jah says:

    How many of you have served? (Bloggers) How many of our MP’s have actually served over the years.