". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Yeeeesssssssss my precioussssssss, we wants our lootersssssss, yesssssss we doesssssssssss.

Yeeeesssssssss my precioussssssss, we wants our lootersssssss, yesssssss we doesssssssssss.
So much of the public response to this catastrophe is disquieting, to say the least. I am speaking further than the vile and determined ignorance in particular, on the part of those who really should know better, like megadweeb David Brooks, but by those who believe they know our national history. They too prefer in the end to blame the victims, to wear a blindfold when it comes to the responsibility on the part of this nation and others for the wreckage.

That's why they don't see anything wrong with the bodies bullldozed into mass graves without any attempt to photograph the faces for later recognition, because, yannno it will be worse if we don't. Regretable, perhaps, but nothing to get ourselves heated about. Only irrational people like Haitians are upset by this. Bad for public health (since when has Haiti's pubic health -- or our own national public health, for that matter -- mattered to the U.S.A.?) However, those who actually work in public health say there is no proof that dead bodies, per se, cause disease.

Nevertheless I'm told in tones that one uses to an unreasonable child that my concern about this behavior indicates that I'm "too emotionally involved and am not seeing straight." Such behavior has nothing to do with racism or colonialism. It's because there's nothing else to do.

There's no infrastructure there! No government! No organization! And so many bodies! You can't do anything else. Too bad, but, well, that is how it is. I'll send another check to Doctors Without Borders -- which, by the way, aren't allowed to fly into Haiti's only functional airport because it is controlled by the U.S. military and the U.S. military isn't allowing them in. (Shades of New Orleans -- assistance and supplies kept out of the city at gunpoint -- remember?) They have to go to the DR and truck the personnel and supplies across the mountains instead. How long before our looters and other criminal elements start highjacking? (We must have our looters, and even will bring them into being, if needs be ....

Funny, these same people didn't say that of me when it was Katrina's disaster of the levees destroying New Orleans. Then one and all were more than willing to throw the blame where it belonged. But they saw what happened to New Orleans as a consequence of a particular moment in U.S. history and believed if bushcheneybrownies etc. were gone nothing like this would happen again. But what happened in New Orleans is part of the continuum of our national policies that are also executed in Haiti.

Haiti's condition, like New Orleans' isn't something that has happened in an isolated moment of history, but is yet another disaster for Haiti in a continum of U.S. and neo colonialist policies and power. Which means we're all responsible, to the degree that we've ignored Haiti and what our nation does there and has always done there. But we want to believe that sending a check to Doctors Without Borders absolves us of any personal blame or responsibility, and additionally, it allows so many of us to re-blame the victims. Thus we must have our looters and our homicides -- our 'breakdown of law and order.' When it has been this nation's policy to have no law and order in Haiti other than what it chooses to underwrite and enable -- empowering thugs to keep the population in line.

None of us without food or water for going on 5 days, no home, no NOTHING, with our loved ones dead and dying and lost all around us, would ever get unreasonable much less irrational or ever consider lashing out. It's all right to throw a Haitian's relatives into a mass grave with no photograph that might tell her and the grieving remainder of the family where they might be. But not our relatives. That's different. They are nice respectable Americans, not a poor blameful disaster victims in Haiti (or, in fact as so many said and still say, in New Orleans).

And we will continue to refuse to see why Haiti has no infrastructure, no functioning government, no organization -- hardly even hospitals -- that most of the functioning health care in Haiti has has long been provided by the medical people of another poor Caribbean nation, Cuba -- nor shall we in this country even mention that this is so, because Cuba like Haiti, made a deal with the devil.

Why it is particularly important for Haitians to know where their dead are, read Madison Smartt Bell's Haiti in Ink and Tears: A Literary Sampler in today's NY Times Week in Review.

You will also wish to read John Maxwell's column in the Jamaica Observer.  JM is a grand old life-time Jamaican activist, a big stick in the eye of destructive capitalism in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.

-- Remedial Haiti 101.


K. said...

The Brooks column was downright Olympian. It's amazing to me (still) that these guys present themselves as experts when they have no expertise whatsoever. Instrusive paternalism? Where's his evidence that that works better than anything else? It's the kind of thinking that gave us the White Man's Burden. Sheesh.

Foxessa said...

More to the point in order to maintain strangehold on the country, we must have looting and unrest.

(After all that other nation of satan, Cuba, is all over the place there committing evil such as providing health care, and the Haitian people say often how much they want their country to be run like Cuba.)

The media has been beating the drums for looters from the beginning. With aid and supplies needing to be trucked in over the moutains from the DR. A desperate population without anything at all, going on for 5 days, well
highjacking is likely right? (Not to mention the entrenched, well-armed kleptocracy, supported by the U.S., behaving as the U.S. surrogate, getting their hands on these supplies and making profits from them.)

So that's looting and unrest and we need to 'justify' keeping the U.S. military there forever "to maintain order"

It's not as though the U.S.A is the first or only power to operate like this.

Love, C.