"They did it too"
I listened to Mr. Lennox Lawrence's programme on Tuesday night 16th , attentively and somewhat apprehensively, during which I was taken to task for my article appearing in the SUN the day before. At the end of it I felt rather relieved to find that I came out of the mauling relatively unscathed. Once more I was thankful for the presence and participation of the Prime Minister, for his calmness in which he made his contributions and for the good humour he injected into the discussion from time to time. Even Mr. Lawrence, it seemed, however much he tried to prove that there could be "terrorism" at Marigot, La Plaine and Salisbury without any "terrorist", seemed to have got the message, and I doubt he will ever make the same mistake again. He sounds like a sensible man.
It was Mr. Savarin's contribution that left me somewhat worried. Although he went out of the way to endorse my appreciation of the Prime Minister's excellent qualities, as though I was not sure, it does not seem that any of those virtues in Mr. Skerrit, which he so much admires – humility, flexibility, forbearance – has rubbed off on him even after so long and close an association. His pomposity seems to be alive and well, and the tit-for-tat "they did it too" mentality seems to be like the breath of life for him. He took time off to educate me in the mysteries of Ecumenism, and even to charge me with insincerity in my ecumenical relationships at home and abroad, because Ecumenism was all about forgetting the past and letting bygones be bygones, and here I was still talking about a massacre of Protestants in 1572 as a warning against name-calling and intemperate speech. I have to thank Mr. Savarin for the enlightenment, for I was so well learned in Ecumenism as he seems to be. I must confess that I honestly did not know that in an ecumenical fellowship you forgot about the past as though it no longer existed. I was taught and I myself have taught that that was precisely what you did not do. You faced history squarely and honestly, ecumenically and sympathetically in your own and all other traditions, so that whatever is good might be not only cherished but shared, and whatever was bad might not only to be renounced and forgotten but remembered so that it can never surface again to trouble or mar the ecumenical fellowship. Bygones are never gone. They are like the evil spirit that is cast out of a man. It wanders through dry places seeking rest and, finding none, it returns to the place from which it was ejected with seven other spirits worse than itself, and they remain around the corner, or crouching at the door, ready to slip back in unawares at the first opportunity. So there is no such thing as "religious" bigotry or "political" intolerance. There is only intolerance and bigotry, which will take up residence wherever they can find it. Day before yesterday it was religion. Today it is politics. The apparel has changed, but the character is the same. Fanaticism is fanaticism is fanaticism.
Then he also educated me in Church History. He reminded me that Henry VIII did it too. That one I ought to have known because, under the great N.A. Jeffers, history was my favourite subject in Form IV. Yes, Henry VIII was a brute to extinguish one of the brightest lights of the age, Sir Thomas More, who had been his Lord Chancellor, simply because he wished to remain faithful to his Church. But Sir Thomas More (tell it not in Gath!) did it too. As Lord Chancellor he unleashed the first wave of persecution against the Lutherans in England by burning them at the stake. So the "they did it too" philosophy, Mr. Savarin, is like a recurring decimal. It can go on and on, and that is why I am concerned that you to relieve yourself of that mindset, if you can, as quickly as you can. Even if they did it too, do not do it when it is wrong.
And let me whisper to you a secret for what it is worth. Henry VIII would have executed you too, if he heard you insult him by calling him a Protestant. He remained a Catholic all his life and did not scruple to burn Protestants who could not accept Transubstantiation. The title "Defender of the Faith", which one of the earlier Popes bestowed on him in the happier period for his defence of the Catholic faith against the heresies of Martin Luther, still shines on English coins, because in spite of all his quarrels with the Church, he refused to give up the honour. Henry never embraced Protestantism. All that happened was that when the Pope excommunicated him, he turned around and excommunicated the Pope from England and pontificated himself as Supreme Head of the Church of England, a position that his successors hold to this day.
I just thought, Mr. Savarin, you would like to know.