Panama’s “most-prosecuted foreign journalist” posted his selfy on the Bananama Republic “About” page recently. In it he’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt and holding what looks like a bottle of Abuelo. He says it’s an attempt to “blend in with the English speaking expatriate community.”
Look, I don’t mean to piss on Okke’s re-branding efforts. But who’s he kidding? Rum, a Hawaiian shirt, and a smug look does not a gringo make. Where’s the inherent racism, the appalling ignorance, the galling sense of entitlement? You can’t just throw on an ugly shirt and become one of us.
It’s no secret that Okke and I haven’t always agreed on the issues. He’s come out against Panama’s “Ku Klux Klan grand masters, mafia-operated teak outfits, financial shysters, corruption and a host of other bad actors,” for example, whereas I’ve noted that Panama continues to have many exciting opportunities for pedophiles, tax dodgers, and old, white men wielding assault rifles.
Sure, there are people who’ll say, this is simply another odd exchange between a brilliant writer and some guy from the Netherlands. They’ll say that Okke’s new wardrobe shouldn’t mar an otherwise delightful détente. Stop with the ad hominem Cojito, leave the shirt, smug look, and suspiciously unopened bottle of rum out of it.
Fair enough. I’ll grudgingly admit that could be the face of an “award winning journalist,” and sure, Okke could be a hardcore rum lover. But that thing he’s wearing is an insult to an entire state. And if Okke Ornstein’s going to
rip off appropriate our sacred cultural icons in an attempt to salvage his disastrous public persona and “blend in” with English speaking retirees, then there’s no reason I shouldn’t start writing stories attacking his hideous shirt.
Related: Trouble is My Business.