I awoke in the middle of the night, frightened by the sound of the boogeyman in the closet. I got up and flung the doors wide open.

Much to my surprise, all I could find was a mirror staring right back at me.

— Ancient Bermujan Proverb

Is the anger and outrage over the potential departure of Dr Edmund Heatley additional proof that Bermuda is stuck in the 1980s? Sure, you remember when our economy was thriving, economic opportunities were plentiful and expatriates would cut off their right arm to come (and stay) here. Back then Bermudians built houses to accommodate the influx, and taxi drivers earned enough to send their children off to university.

Those days are long gone, though. Hotels have closed, apartments are empty, mortgages are foreclosing and taxi drivers now wait 45 minutes on Front Street for a passenger. But this downturn in our circumstances hasn’t prevented us from stomping on the final finger that keeps us from falling off the ledge. Some of us continue to resent international business, promote unnecessary work stoppages and demonstrate contempt for expatriates before they even get here.

Such was the case with Dr Heatley. Bermuda behaved in such a petulant fashion that we gave him every reason he needed to consider moving back. Far too many made it extremely clear that he wasn’t wanted: He’s from corporate education... He’s for charter schools... He’s antiunion...

Teachers will lose their jobs... We have qualified Bermudians... We don’t need another foreigner!

Against this tide, PLP Shadow Education Minister, Walton Brown, made commendable comments in defence of the Board of Education: “I know the board conducted a long, diligent search for a suitably qualified candidate and I believe their preference was to place a Bermudian in that position immediately.”

“Because I have confidence in the integrity of the selection committee, I am comfortable with their recommendation...”

Unfortunately, out of the other side of the PLP’s mouth, Opposition Deputy Leader Derrick Burgess described the decision to hire Heatley as “reprehensible and shameful”. At the 2013 Labour Day Rally he proclaimed: “Remember the special test that the Bermuda medical board set for Dr Gordon and former Premier Dr Brown, a test they have never given to anyone else? The test was designed for them to fail in order for them not to have a license to practice at the island’s only hospital. Is history repeating itself?”

Chris Famous similarly attempted to make the appointment appear as if the OBA favoured an expat, “over an impressive list of qualified Bermudian applicants.”

Both Famous and Burgess contradicted their Shadow Minister by effectively calling Warren Jones’ professionalism, integrity and Bermudian pride, all into question. Nevertheless, we’re supposed to believe that all three are correct.

For all of his dedication to Bermuda, some online posters like ‘Reality Now’ (Betty Trump?) even labelled Jones an Uncle Tom for defending Heatley’s appointment.

Yes, politics ensured that the recruitment process, failed succession planning and the makeup of the Education Board, didn’t matter. Surely, Bermuda must ask itself if such politicallymotivated attacks factored into Jones’ subsequent departure.

Within the first four months, Heatley lost his Permanent Secretary. Shortly after, he lost his Education Minister, because the OBA merged Education and Economic Development.

When you add this instability to politicized resentment, who can honestly blame him for entertaining an offer from those who actually want him? Who wouldn’t have done the same? And, is it not ironic that Terry Lister is condemning Heatley, when hostility and mistreatment were the reasons he cited for leaving the PLP? “I’ve got a little advice for you, Minister. Tell him get cracking.

Tell him get cracking. We want a commitment to our children, and if he is not prepared to do it, get cracking. And he’s already shown us he does not have it. Get rid of him now.” Get rid of him now? And be left with what, Mr. Lister? The Board of Education, Permanent Secretary, Public Service Commission, Immigration Department and the Governor, concluded that we didn’t have a Bermudian alternative.

If they are still right, exactly where does this demonstration of 1980s hubris leave our students? And, if Bermuda needs expats like Heatley far more than expats like Heatley need Bermuda, what happens when the next applicant finds out just how poorly we treat non-Bermudians?
bryanttrew@mac.com