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Sunday, January 17, 2010

HAITI: THE GOOD AND BAD OF IT























I have been heartsick over the horrifying misery and suffering I have seen on the news these past few days about the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. From stories of rising death counts, to husbands losing wives and children when just at the brink of rescuing them, to an 11 year old girl being pulled from the rubble with a crushed leg only to die the very next day - it has been a very sad and wrenching week.


I have never been so proud of our country or a President as I was to see the immediate responses to aid the needs of this impoverished, devastated Haitian nation. President Obama immediately called upon his two previous predecessors to help raise relief aid, both of them having been superb fundraisers. Major League Baseball stepped up to deliver $1 million in aid. The National Football League and many other groups publicized the need for emergency donations repeatedly on its own NFL Network and also numerous times during heavily-watched playoff games. Hollywood celebrities opened their wallets. And hundreds of thousands of ordinary citizens started donating personally to the relief cause through churches and charitable organizations. All of this was done quickly and continues. THAT is what a civilized nation is supposed to do, and I am happy to say we rose to the challenge at hand.

But, as always, cynically dark forces of the far right muddied up the picture. Rush Limbaugh, vile, racist puke that he is, questioned the President's motive in responding so quickly to this disaster. He accused the President of trying to appeal to black voters by responding quickly. He also questioned whether donations for aid sent through the White House would actually go to disaster relief, suggesting that Obama might pocket some of the money for political campaigning. This conscientious scumbag never once on his radio show advocated any of his listeners making ANY donations to ANY charity for relief, nor is there any evidence HE has donated even a penny to relieve the misery of suffering Haitians, even though he himself is a multimillionaire...

And then, of course, the far right, insane "Reverend" Pat Robertson broadcast that the Haitian earthquake was God's punishment on the Haitian people for their supposedly javing made a pact with the devil 200 years ago enlisting his help in gaining freedom from France. What absolute idiocy! And how hypocritical, too---he makes this claim even as his website provides a link for sending donations for Haitian relief in! Well, that's better than Limbaugh's been doing, I guess, which has been nothing. But not much better...

That other darling of the far right, Sarah Palin, has been strangely silent on the Haiti disaster. There has been no report of her raising money to aid the stricken people, nor has she herself contributed any money that we know of, nor has she made appeals for her followers to donate. Surely we would have expected much more leadership from one who believes she is a leader qualified to be President, and who professes to have both strong family and Christian values! (I never knew Jesus was so arbitrary about these matters of helping those in dire need). Perhaps she has been confused about it all. I can just hear her backstage at Fox "News", asking bewilderedly: "What's Haiti? WHERE'S Haiti? Why don't they have any money, and why can't they take care of their own problems themselves?" But more likely, Sarah Palin has been far too busy making money for HERSELF and advancing HER TV career to have had time to even think of the needs of a devastated people outside our borders!



As I mentioned earlier, I am very satisfied that most of the country has responded so well and quickly to this tragic situation in Haiti. We have averaged well over $2 million per day in small contributions, these coming from a population beset with high unemployment, high pharmaceutical and health care costs, frozen and/or declining wages, and eroded buying power. It is a testament to our compassion and generosity as well as our sense of responsibility and obligation. If you yourself have not yet contributed to Haiti relief, won't you join others and please do so today? The Red Cross can accept your donation online at http://american.redcross.org/HaitiRelief (my apologies for this not properly hyperlinking). Or, you may also contribute through World Vision International at http://www.worldvision.org/, Catholic Relief Services at http://crs.org/, or NICEF at http://www.unicefusa.org/. There are many, many others as well.

It appears that the good in this disaster (if there is such a thing) has been the rekindling of American benevolence and sense of duty, as well as a new and heightened awareness of Haiti, its current situation, and its needs going forward among the world community. This is truly a nation which has been needlessly neglected for far too long. The bad, of course, has manifested itself in the words and behavior of far right ideologues like Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson, as well as the ignorance and inaction of Sarah Palin and many of those corporatist plutocrats in the upper 1% of the income scale. If each and every corporate executive drawing an eight figure income in the banking, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries were to climb down from their pedestals and donate $5 million apiece, relief and rebuilding of a collapsed Haiti would proceed at a very rapid rate. Instead, many of those upper elite prefer to remain blissfully ignorant, sitting on their money in their counting houses, counting it over and over again as people starve and wail in distress.

That, my friends, is the good and bad of the unfortunate Haiti situation, as I see it from here.

COMING SOON: "THE U.S. AND HAITI'S LONG, UNEVEN RELATIONSHIP"

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

The truth is that they did make a pact with the devil.

Now the significance you put on that pact I guess has to do with whether you believe the devil is real or not.

But it is one of Haiti's founding myths.

http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/small_axe/v009/9.2laroche.html

According to Haitian national history, the revolutionary war was launched on the eve of a religious ceremony at a place in the north called Bwa Kayiman (Bois Caiman, in French). At that ceremony on August 14, 1791, an African slave named Boukman sacrificed a pig, and both Kongo and Creole spirits descended to possess the bodies of the participants, encouraging them and fortifying them for the upcoming revolutionary war. Despite deep ambivalence on the part of intellectuals, Catholics, and the moneyed classes, Vodou has always been linked with militarism and the war of independence and, through it, the pride of national sovereignty.

So, yeah if there is a devil, Haiti made a pact with it. Might explain why even though Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island, the Dominican Republic has been far more successful.

Oso said...

Anonymous,

Good point.No way a bunch of black slaves could have outfought a modern European army.

Did those same spirits descend to help Crazy Horse at the Little Big Horn ?

Just asking.

TRUTH 101 said...

While I look for Jack to delete the deluded anonymous fool soon, I would like to ask him and any other Pat Robertson zealot someting.


Haven't the Haitians been punished enough. I mean, it's one of the poorest countries on Earth. Misery is their way of life. Thousands each year risk their lives on rickety boats to sail 800 miles for a better life here in America.


Wasn't that enough punishment for them?

Jack; you're a wise man. Will the morons ever stop pretending to speak for God?

Or is this "God's punishment" crap just an excuse for them not to donate any money?

Jack Jodell said...

Anonymous,
Even if this pact WERE true, a loving and rational God would hardly devastate an entire nation 219 years after the fact, causing horrible suffering among people born 2 centuries later. The entire idea is preposterous. By your rationale, America's tolerance for pornography, drug abuse, and other social ills (in an indirect sense, tolerance for the devil) would automatically guarantee it the same kind of devastation. Utterly absurd. Sorry, pal, neither you NOR Robertson sold me on this one!
And as far as two nations sharing the same geographical body and one having nothing but problems due to its supposed pact with Satan while the other has not suffered the same kinds of problems go, how do you explain the differences in economic and quality of life conditions existing between the U.S. and Mexico? Did Mexico, too, enter into a pact with the devil? Utter nonsense.
---------------
Oso,
The fact that white Christian settlers from Europe populated this country and in varying degrees engaged in genocide for the better part of three centuries against native American peoples further proves the absurdity of the ethnocentric bias shown by many on the religious right like Anonymous. But that won't stop them from arguing with you.
---------------
Truth101,
You raise a logical point. I guess if you believe in an angry and authoritarian God, as the fundamentalists do, then Haiti will continue to be punished until it publicly renounces Satan and becomes the sort of Christian theocracy they would apparently like to see the U.S. become. But if you believe in a loving and merciful God, as MOST Christians do, you will reject this form of fundamentalism. When I listen to these fundamentalists and watch them in action, it becomes more clear to me every day that "in the beginning, man created God in HIS own image and likeness." That, of course, is a paraphrase of the sentence found in Genesis, but it describes quite accurately the way some fundamentalists have reinterpreted scripture to reshape God into one they themselves would approve of, rather than the other way around. I'm through arguing these things with fundamentalists though. Doing so is like trying to argue politics or history with a teabagger, and we all know what a waste of time that is.

One final thought on why Haiti has had it so tough all these years: it's been OUR interference and racism and domination which has had a very detrimental effect on their development, and this dates back almost 200 years. Does this mean WE have been doing Satan's bidding and will suffer a horrible fate soon as a result? That, too, is preposterous, as I'm sure you will agree...

Laci the Chinese Crested said...

Anonymous has a point, couldn't a country make a pact with the devil so it could defeat a much more powerful force.

Forget Haiti, I'm talking about the US defeating Great Britain during the war of independence.

WOuldn't that explain a lot about the US's politics?

Laci the Chinese Crested said...

I decided to check Anon's cite. It came back blank. A dead link.

Not a good way to make points anon!

BTW, according to time, the pact was to last for 200 years, and depending on the count you use, Placing the date from 1791 (hen the pact was sllegedly made) to 1804 (actual independence), TIME'S UP!

Holte Ender said...

The God that keeps punishing the poor and impoverished, not just in Haiti, but in Africa and Asia, must be one mean son of a gun. The Old testament keeps on rearing it's pointy head when the fundamentalists speak, don't hear much about the New Testament, nothing about love thy enemy or suffer little children. I suppose it doesn't fit in with their thinking.

Beach Bum said...

DOGPILE ON ANON!

What a blatant, ignorant fruit cake. Hey dude, don't watch Supernatural cause you will be hiding under your bed with all the demons, ghouls, and ghosts that haunt people.

About the Dominican Republic/Haiti success and fail scenario you mentioned. On one matter, which I'm sure you are as ignorant about as the rest of the situation is that the mountains that separate the two countries block a great deal of rain that falls just on the DR side. Of course I figure you might say that is God being pissed off with the Haitians but more rational people say that is just part of the science of the natural world cause in many places mountains block rain with the other side being rain deficient to outright deserts.

As for the Haitian government, yes it is tortured country with much of the fault on the Haitian themselves but people, like nations, are funny. Some shoot to the stars while others fizzle. Blaming God or other supernatural forces is like believing in Santa or the Tooth Fairy, comforting but ultimately self defeating.

Like the biker in the excellent Stephen King movie "The Mist" said: I believe in God, I just don't think he is the bloodthirsty asshole you do.

Jack Jodell said...

Laci,
I'm not surprized about the blank link or the pact being up in 2004 and therefore is no longer a real issue, if ever it were in the first place, These American fundamentalists, like their far right "teabagger" counterparts, are often fast and loose with facts and details. That's why I never take them seriously, and why I don't often get into a pissing match with them.

As for your point about America making a pact with the devil to have achieved independence from Britain, who knows? And after our debacles in Vietnam, Iraq, the stock market, and health care for profit, do you really believe the UK would want us BACK? :-)
---------------
Holte Ender,
BRILLIANT comment---you NAILED it right there!
---------------
Beach Bum,
Very well put, and I agree completely. As for the question of God supposedly punishing Haiti for making a pact with the devil in 1791, see Laci's comment above, and also look for my next post, in which I debunk that asinine claim altogether and point out how this Christian United States has played a heavy hand over the years in adding to Haiti's miserable lot...

TomCat said...

Jack, a wonderful post. I won't reply to anon, because you disposed of his GOP propaganda so well. Perhaps the reason Mooseolini has been silent on Haiti is that she does not know it exists. After all, she can't see it from her porch.

Jack Jodell said...

TomCat,
Thank you, and I had a good bellylaugh at your comment on "Mooselini" too!

Max's Dad said...

I think Limbaugh made a pact with The Golden Corral. Thanks for the post,Jack.

Jack Jodell said...

HAAAAAAAA!!!! Max's Dad, you are hilarious! Yes, I could see Limbaugh scarfing down plate after plate at a Golden Corral restaurant, snorting, gasping, and chortling all the while, and congratulating himself afterward on how cheap he had been!

Stimpson said...

"Forget Haiti, I'm talking about the US defeating Great Britain during the war of independence.

"WOuldn't that explain a lot about the US's politics?"


And Laci scores with an awesome point.

I knew there was something deeply wrong with the United States. I just could put my finger on it till now. ;)

TomCat said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Jack. :-)

MadMike said...

I don't believe in God. Life is much easier [at least for me] that way. Fortunately the poor Haitians DO believe in God and I am sure this has been a great comfort to them during these terrible times. Unfortunately they also believe in the devil, being that you cannot have a God if you don't have a devil. There are those who believe that God IS the devil. If I were living in Haiti that is what I would believe. God has shown himself time and time to be a murdering, terrorizing rascal of a deity. This is one of those times.

Jack Jodell said...

Stimpson,
I think what is wrong with the United States can be best summed up by saying that is what would be wrong with all humans, were they to be given nearly unlimited freedom and were to exercise said freedom without regard for others, or with limited regulation.
---------------
TomCat,
I do enjoy a little sarcastic wit and humor from time to time.
---------------
MadMike,
I don't share your outlook on this one, but I understand your reasoning here and respect and support your right to express your beliefs. Blog on, my friend! :-)

TRUTH 101 said...

I have no problem with God. It's the idiots and misguided zealots who think they speak for Him that I can't stand.


People are capable of great good and great evil on their own. We don't need God's or the devil's help in that regard.

Jack Jodell said...

I think you've pretty well summed it up, Truth101.

Lisa G. said...

Jack,
Good post on Haiti. I am disturbed however by 3 things: reports I'm hearing about the military "taking over" the airport and deciding who can and can't land; the military patrolling the streets of Haiti and not providing any aid or assistance with loaded weapons; and the amount of time it took us (the US) to get aid to these people. Obama made a great speech on it, I agree, but I don't see that followed up with swift action on our part.

Doctors without Borders have complained that 5 plane loads of people and supplies were not allowed to land and instead were diverted to San Domingo in the DR.

I am concerned about the military presence as well. We cannot afford to be seen as just providing 'security'. There is no reason why we can't airlift food, water, medical supplies, etc. from the airport and boats to people in need. The Israelis had a mobile hospital set up and running in 3 days; the Icelanders were there within 32 hours pulling people out of buildings. It took us a week to get the Marines down there and now they are (most of them anyway) providing 'support from a carrier'. WTF? As General Honroe (of Katrina fame) said something to the effect that we have all of the FEMA supplies (food, water, generators, etc.) down on the southern coast of the US for hurricanes. We are 700 miles away - there is no reason that I can see why all of that material (along with doctors, nurses, surgical teams, etc.) couldn't have been there in under 24 hours.

I'd hate for this to turn into Obama's Katrina, but I am not liking the reports I'm reading.

Jack Jodell said...

Lisa G,
You raise some concerns I hadn't thought about. The whole world, and especially our hemisphere, would be far better off if our military would mind its own damn business and stop "taking control" wherever it goes. I had hoped and believed that the "charitable and benevolent" actions our military was engaged in (according to our mainstram corporatist media) were legitimate, but the concerns you raise here bear further investigation and review. Thank you for presenting them.