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January 17, 2010

America's Elite: Are They Hateful and Cruel Enough?

Another great place to donate money for Haiti is Partners in Health. Beverly Bell, an American who's worked in Haiti for many years, also suggests the Lambi Fund of Haiti and Grassroots International.

This is from the high school history textbook The American Adventure, quoted in Lies My Teacher Told Me:

During Reconstruction many people tried hard to help the black people of the South. Then, for years, most white Americans paid little attention to the blacks. Little by little, however, there grew a new concern for them.

Here's David Rothkopf, writing in Foreign Policy:

In all its benighted history, perhaps Haiti's greatest moment of hope since its independence came just a decade and a half ago. Back then, America finally took interest in its near neighbor...

But over time...the United States lost the political will to assist the struggling country. Good intentions and a pregnant moment were overtaken by events ...

If you can believe it, the rest of Rothkopf's post is even more grotesque. If I were a 1953 Soviet apparatchik looking for people to write a encyclopedia he's just the kind of historian I'd hire.

Besides working as a Deputy Undersecretary for Trade at the State Department, Rothkopf was once managing director of Kissinger Associates. You can decide for yourself if the answer to the question posed in the title here is "yes."

P.S: David Brooks also wonders why Haiti's in such bad shape. The answer turns out to be voodoo.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at January 17, 2010 03:33 PM

I think that might be the last Brooks column I can bear to read. The guy's work actually subtracts from the sum total of the world's knowledge.

Posted by: Guest at January 17, 2010 04:11 PM

From any humane perspective they are hateful and cruel far in excess of any possible excuse. As 'pragmatic' technocrats, I'm sure they see themselves as only as hateful and cruel as they need to be. In their inhuman hearts, no amount of hatred or cruelty is ever enough.

Posted by: Phillip Allen at January 17, 2010 05:49 PM

Is that an Onion Op-Ed or did Brooks actually write that column for the NY Times?
Frankly, I thought it was impossible to muster that much arrogance, ignorance and insensitivity into a 750-word column.

Next week from Brooks: "Why aren't Haitians more grateful to America?''

Posted by: bayville at January 17, 2010 06:44 PM

It's nice to see that David Brooks and Pat Robertson have the same theory about what's wrong with Haiti.

Posted by: Seth at January 18, 2010 12:21 AM

Monsters: they're real and they've all crawled out from under the bed.

Posted by: Michael Hughes at January 18, 2010 12:40 AM

I made two donations to Partners in Health.

I saw a part of 60 minutes tonight, and while I do not have the language or medical skills that are really needed, I sure would be able to organize those supplies so the doctors are not digging through boxes.

They also said that these doctors ran out of alcohol, so they were using vodka. They also had a regular hack saw for amputations, just like in the civil war.

everyone: please give!

Posted by: Susan at January 18, 2010 03:55 AM

Even with an understanding of our media/political culture that predicts the behavior we are seeing; that is completely ahistorical and narcissistic narratives, Or the use of a disaster to advocate for U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of another country, It is still jarring to see it.

I mean, I feel mortified if I make an inaccurate statement on my blog for 4-5 readers. If I were turning in a national column, or on TV, I would be mortified to say the things these people are saying that are so easily put to pasture with Google.

Another takeaway is just how careless and ignorant the powerful can afford to be about the weak and small. I mean Americans in general now (I am one), from a Haitian perspective, we have figured heavily in their history dating all the way back to the very beginning of our country's birth as a political entity. From an American perspective, we barely know they exist, are generally too lazy to learn any of its history, and feel free to speculate wildly about why the country is so destitute.

Posted by: Justin at January 18, 2010 01:58 PM

In my exchange with NE, I mentioned that elites always look to use whatever they can to forward their agenda. The following nugget can be found on Lenin's Tomb quoting the Heritage Foundation.

In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region…

While on the ground in Haiti, the U.S. military can also interrupt the nightly flights of cocaine to Haiti and the Dominican Republic from the Venezuelan coast and counter the ongoing efforts of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to destabilize the island of Hispaniola. This U.S. military presence, which should also include a large contingent of U.S. Coast Guard assets, can also prevent any large-scale movement by Haitians to take to the sea in rickety watercraft to try to enter the U.S. illegally.

Meanwhile, the U.S. must be prepared to insist that the Haiti government work closely with the U.S. to insure that corruption does not infect the humanitarian assistance flowing to Haiti. Long-term reforms for Haitian democracy and its economy are also badly overdue.

Posted by: tony at January 18, 2010 03:14 PM

I realize in reading the Rothkopf article that I don't presently know enough about the last 20 years of Haitian history, which puts me in the weird position of knowing more about the decade around the 1915 invasion. Which is stupid, so does anyone have anything to recommend on the last 20 years there?

The Brooks article really shouldn't surprise me, because he has nothing but self-satisfaction between his ears, but it is a real stinker even for him. The only thing good about it that I can say is that it reminded me that Samuel Huntington is dead, which did cheer me up. There is nothing more sickening than rich people who preach about "no excuses" policies and "tough, measurable demands" for the poor.

Posted by: N E at January 18, 2010 06:25 PM

Oops, on another thread Nell had already recommended and linked to an article by the author of the book which from my search looks to be probably the best book on recent Haitian history: Peter Hallward's Damming the Flood: Haiti, Aristide and the Politics of Containment (Verso 2008). The article Nell linked was excellent, and it sounds like the book is too.

Posted by: N E at January 19, 2010 08:21 AM

Another good source, less trenchantly left-wing but not just an apologia for neoliberal exploitation, is Robert Fatton's Haiti's Predatory Republic: The Unending Transition to Democracy.

Disclaimer: I haven't read either one, but the huffy reaction of the usual suspects makes me think they're worthwhile.

@Rupa Shah: Thanks so much for your link in a previous thread to Danny Schechter's very forthright piece on the fubar'ed U.S.-U.N. relief effort and beyond. I was really glad I followed your pointer, but I almost didn't; a couple of words to give an idea of the author and topic greatly increase the odds of readers making use of your finds. Thanks again; I think it's one of the more important articles written since the quake.

Posted by: Nell at January 19, 2010 04:00 PM

And I thought, everyone reads all the links I provide!! Silly me....
No, seriously Nell, there are two writers I regularly read at
Danny Schechter, he is a real progressive ( may be he calls himself a socialist! I have met him personally and discussed some issues specially healthcare) and he writes, not only about what ails the country but how to change it and the other is Prof Paul Street ( quoted often by commenter Tony at ATR ). He is great too. Their articles appear regularly at ZNet, worth giving a try.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 19, 2010 04:58 PM

Another good article and to some extent, what role the media plays in how it portrays the tragedy....
"Please Don’t Superdome Haiti (update)"
Michelle Chen

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 19, 2010 05:27 PM

Here's a short column by Rob Baril, a Haitian board member of Grassroots International, that lays out in simple and concrete terms the program of bottom-up development that is the only way out of the disastrous dependence fostered by the "international community".

The program is also spelled out very directly in a recent letter from Camille Chalmers, a leader of PAPDA, an alliance of rural popular organizations.

Did you know that the IMF this week actually conditioned disaster relief funds on freezing public sector wages and raising electricity rates? A hundred thousand bodies on the ground is not enough to induce even a figleaf gesture, this week only, of unconditional, actually humanitarian support.

People to people solidarity ties are the alternative to letting our corrupt, financier-run government speak for us in this brutally high-handed way.

Posted by: Nell at January 19, 2010 05:38 PM

Like everythong posted at this site, this is great information.

Thank you.

Posted by: Elise Mattu at January 19, 2010 06:41 PM

MADRE is an organization that people who read A Tiny Revolution might like to check out, not only for the Haiti relief effort, but for it's human rights efforts worldwide.

Posted by: rs at January 19, 2010 09:18 PM

Those seeking a very small non-profit that works in Haiti (set up by my cousin) can see

They are a very small organization and aren't doing emergency assistance to people right now, though they seem to have distributed their supplies. They have been doing work in Haiti for 20 years on their small scale. (It doesn't take a vast organization to do some good.) No waste, no corruption, and I'd bet everything I have that every dollar helps someone who really needs it.

Posted by: N E at January 20, 2010 08:41 AM

Why do I have doubts about the motives behind our military's relief operation in Haiti? It really makes me feel very unpatriotic.
"The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?"
by Michel Chossudovsky

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 20, 2010 10:39 AM

Ah, Chossudovsky, now there's a man who understands the ways of empire.

Posted by: N E at January 20, 2010 01:42 PM

Rupa Shah, you know by now that patriotism is

(1) the first refuge of the scoundrel, and
(2) part of a strategy of divide-and-conquer used against the world's poor.

Don't feel bad when your conscience speaks. There's no reason to accept the lines for "us" and "them" that have been drawn for us.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at January 20, 2010 02:29 PM

The San Andreas Fault runs south of Los Angeles, across Central America, across the Gulf of Mexico between Florida and Cuba and into the Carribean. Haiti and LA suffer from the same earthquake problems. Nothing to do with voodoo.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at January 20, 2010 06:57 PM

Save the Oocytes
I do want to trust our govt but I just can't help not trusting them ( with all the lies, all the time). And then, I can not help feeling bad about it because one is supposed to be able to trust one's elected officials and not doubt their actions. See, it is a mess. But will try, not to feel guilty about it!

Mike Meyer
I left a short note for you on Datesman's post ( I saw that first ).
I am quite sure, Mr Brooks does not know what Voodoo Religion is or that Haitians have been practising it since late 18th century. Like great figures borrowed things from Mr Schwarz and Prof Chazelle centuries ago, Haitians certainly did not borrow Voodoo from Mr Brooks!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 20, 2010 10:05 PM

Mike Meyer How dare you contradict wikipedia!

That fault must go through my head too, cuz i don't get it.

Posted by: N E at January 20, 2010 10:05 PM

I was listening to NPR today and heard this interview. It is worth listening to. The doctor was upset about rumours of there not being adequate security and safety. He had been walking all over at night and the people were waiting "patiently" in spite of staggering suffering.

"Doctor in Haiti Tells of Makeshift Medical Care Amid Aftershocks"
Medical supplies are in short supply in Haiti, while power and communications remain unreliable. We talk about the situation with Dr. Evan Lyon, who’s working at the general hospital in Port-au-Prince for the organization, Partners in Health.

ps this was today's programme i.e the 20th of Jan.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 20, 2010 10:48 PM

Rupa Shah

Thanks much for that clip. Now I can actually refer people to a source after they scoff at the suggestion that the media reports of looting might not be accurate. I have been struck by how strongly inclined people are to believe that.

Posted by: N E at January 21, 2010 08:18 AM

An excellent rebuke to ignorant Op-Ed by David Brooks.......
"An Open Letter to David Brooks on Haiti"

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 21, 2010 09:40 AM

Another excellent article by Danny Schechter who tells it like it is.......
"The Disaster Within The Disaster: Its Time To Investigate the Aid Fiasco"

Posted by: Rupa Shah at January 21, 2010 10:59 AM

Kurt Vonnegut, in one of his last published essays, summarizing the conquest of the New World by the Europeans, whom he characterized as "sea pirates", said something along the lines of "One advantage the sea pirates had is that no one could believe how greedy and cruel they were until it was too late."

Vonnegut may not have read Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, of course.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at January 23, 2010 10:08 PM