Not going with an image here because we’ve been bombarded with them. The worst natural disaster in our lifetime is beyond tragic, particularly because those who are suffering have suffered enough over the last several decades. The people of Haiti have become martyrs, and represent perhaps the last hope that the conscience of the Western world can be awakened.
As much as we can salute the many relief workers who are sacrificing themselves to help the survivors, there are troubling signs about the aftermath. There have been reports about France and Brazil lodging a complaint about being denied permission to land by the US military command in Port au Prince. Signs of disaster privateers quietly stirring into action make you wonder whether Haiti could wind up becoming another New Orleans. The Heritage Foundation clearly has an agenda about what the long-term plans regarding Haiti should look like. Their concerns: stop drug trafficking, prevent Haitians from entering the U.S. “illegally,” stop Hugo Chávez from subverting Hispaniola. The conservative neo-liberal view (or the liberal neo-conservative view) is represented by New York Times columnist David Brooks, who observes,
… Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized.
Yep, and they sold their souls to the devil for their independence.
It’s important to remember that, as we text our contributions to Red Cross (I guess), Bill Clinton (no), Wyclef Jean (maybe), Partners in Health (yeah), that we can’t let it go at that. There must be international pressure to create the best possible outcome for Haiti with the minimum amount of displacement and disruption of that magical country’s cultural reality.
We are not the world.