The “progressive” community in America has always and will continue to flabbergast my perception of know-all. As one who commonly identifies with the monolithic-activist-culture, furthermore a proud son of Haiti (albeit Diaspora) striving to fulfill the prodigal Caribbean prophecy, an anomaly has manifested itself on the crown of this dualistic self-perception; grant me the luxury of expounding as to why.
The issue du jour
The ongoing coup d’etat in Haiti is more or less a semi-torrid rehearsal of the Bush administration’s Grand Imperialist Strategy; an anabolic fetus to Reagan’s Caribbean Basin Initiative (the precursor to NAFTA, FTAA etc.), with a twist of indirect-interventionist militarism. Aristide has fled the country, allegedly…Correction, Aristide was sternly relieved (sic) from his Constructional post and the baton is in passing. The most up-to-date “FRAPH” (violent blow) one-upped 650 million USD in withheld aid, multiple embargoes and Neo-Liberal sanctions, Yanqui sponsored political destabilization (terrorism) by Group 184 & The Democratic Convergence and the vile hijacking of 1991, in potentially obliterating popular sovereignty in Haiti, permanently.
Let us for once (including myself), as “lefties,” refrain from 10,000 word odes to statistical analysis: The Bush Administration publicly advocated that a democratically elected leader step down; a hijacking of guard attributable to internal rebel pressure. The extent of this advocacy has yet to de revealed in full, but based on the bloody evolution of U$ hemispheric policy, one has reason to believe that the operation was, from start to finish, a military offensive. As the astute foreign policy paralegal that he is, would Secretary Powell allow us the privilege of forecasting a parallel anchored in this precedent?
“President Bush speaks from the Oval Office: Throughout my term, I have addressed the nation on matters that I believed to be of national importance. This time I come to you with a heavy heart. Unidentified rebels have taken siege of the
Breckenridge Ski Resort in the Rocky Mountainous region of the country. Prior to these illegal actions, I had requested aid from our international allies. To my dismay, they have not responded. Today I announce that I am resigning my post in hopes of preventing blood shed. In the case of the war in Iraq, the war on ‘terrer’ (pronounced tear-were), thousands of lives were lost. I listened to my advisors, perhaps foolishly But, there is a saying in Tennessee, and I think they have it in Texas Fool me once (pause), sh-sh-sh-shame on me (stutter). Fool me twice”
A bit dramatized yes, but point exhibited. The same argumentation could be used to prove why Nazi Germany had better reason to attack the U$ (ala Pearl Harbor), as a form of preventative warfare, motivated by the theory of encirclement, than we in our manifold of Cold War counter-insurgencies!
Haiti could be looked at as the ideal battleground for U$ proxy-class warfare — Andy Apaid and his “eight-percenter” oligarchs in cohorts with Guy Phillipe and his column of Uncle Tom thugs, versus the starving Black Proletariat. If the above parties were the only characters in play, various Third World truisms would reign above all. Actually, the pseudo-inbred French descendants (the Haitian elite), and the Black majority are not even the protagonists at center stage; instead the U$ government and public opinion, the world’s superpowers. Through a deliberate assault on the labor movement in the early 1900’s, the corporate privatization of the press, tripled with the American Left’s penchant for self-destruction, public opinion rarely reflects a populist perspective. This being said, one can call witness to several exceptions and variations to rule.
As to my confusion, the dilemma, the anomaly
In my brief 26 years, I’ve observed demonstrations that defy this anti-populist judgment of public opinion. It seems as though the activist movement is uninterruptedly fickle in how it pursues varying injustices. One can safely point to a few that are synonymous with Folk music, rallying, protesting, leafleting and so on: Tibet, East Timor, Chiapas, Iraq. Dare I say that if there were an omniscient pathology fueling the Circadian rhythm of secular humanitarians, it would be collectively named after these causes! Are the pressures instigating support for the “famous four” valid in their potency? Unquestionably. Is there a correlation between celebrity endorsement and the popularity of an examined issue? Unequivocally.
Brothers like Zack De La Rocha, Bono, Tom Morello, Serj Taniken, Chuck D., have all exploited their status as celebrities to bring about awareness to numerous examples of social injustice. Actions such as theirs are invaluable in such downtrodden times. They epitomize the essence of art, of the artist. They make “the revolution irresistible” (Toni Cambi). The inherent quandary arises when we as activists posture as bovine simpletons, endorsing solely, strictly and religiously the movements associated with Pop Culture.
For years I have battled a rising tide of anger, disbelief and RAGE. Oddly enough, these sentiments haven’t been poised to attack the Dixiecrats of this era, rather aimed at the so-called activists. I wholeheartedly admit to a degree of selfishness pursuant to this discontent. By rite of heritage and blood, my foremost concern is that of the valiant men and women of Haiti.
At every juncture wherest I’ve taken to stage, in either a musical or oratorical capacity, the very mention of the word “Haiti” disconfigures otherwise stoic brows to shriveled temples of confusion. There may be a soul or two who are familiar with the Mariel Boat Lift, Abner Louima or the Crome Detention Center. On rare occasion, a timid comrade will approach me post set wishing to debate the guerilla strategies perfected by L’Overture and Desaillines. However, I can’t possibly count the incidents of “Dude, I really feel for your people of Tahiti” Tahiti, this from a cadre ostensibly involved with progressive endeavors!
This phenomenon of intellectual ignorance could partly be blamed on the indoctrination of educational systems stateside; partly. The ideological commissars have done well in reducing Haiti’s entire existence to a mere 12 syllables: The poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. If their wiles were flawless, we would all be imprisoned by the incessant humdrum of consumerism, oblivious to even the most fractional of societal abuses Please! How is that this planetary orb has often been wondered by macrocosmic manifestations of solidarity and humanitarianism; exhibitions in defiance of the power structure’s mendacity and disdain, preceded by infinite microcosmic, grass-roots trials; how? As evidenced by the past and current showings of leftist complacency (for the most part) specific to the socio-economic plight of the Haitian Global Village, there is a lurking stimulus aside from the aforementioned ones.
Many countries in Latin America have a valid claim to being the beacon for Third World oppression, injustice etc. The progressives have sanctioned a milieu of struggles in a majority of the countries in query, and rightly so But, and a gargantuan one at that, if there is a single nation in this hemisphere that has beheld the back of humanitarians, is Haiti. Trace the history of socio-political isolation and embargo opposite to the interests of the U$; you will find that Haiti is the elder of the village. Examine the savagery of dictatorial regimes since the Anglo-Saxon rape & pillage of the America’s; you will find no parallel to the Duvalier junta (on a per-capita scale). Analyze the virulence of immigration statutes over the last 40 years, across the multi-cultural spectrum; you will note that Haitians outnumber every other group as far as indefinite detentions and cases of blind repatriation. Consider the bestiary of police / state acts of violence against migrant sectors; you will call Haitians to the echelon of the unfortunate selection. Recall the infamous 12 syllables of Haitian definition; the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere; and you will note the following:
The richest 1% of the population controls nearly half of all of Haiti’s wealth.
Haiti has long ranked as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and is the fourth poorest country in the world.
Haiti ranks 146 out of 173 on the Human Development Index.*
Life expectancy is 52 years for women and 48 for men*.
Adult literacy is about 50%.*
Unemployment is about 70%.*
85% of Haitians live on less than $1 US per day.*
Haiti ranks 38 out of 195 for under-five mortality rate.*
(‘Investigating the Effects of Withheld Humanitarian Aid,’ a report of the Haiti Reborn/Quixote Center.)
Where is the public outcry; where in the hell has it been since 1804? Where are the hordes of white ideological college students, breathless and hoarse from a regiment of protest? Where are the “Hip-Art” B-Boys & Girls sporting a red shirt with 1804 plastered in blue front and back? Why aren’t are the “Free-the-Haitian-Refugees-at-Crome-Detention-Center” banners at every antiwar rally? Aside from boring the reader, I could go on, endlessly.
Understanding our limited knowledge of human nature and assuming that the American left in this country is embarrassingly Anglo Saxon, let me cast out a hypothesis: It is exponentially easier to identify with causes whose victims resemble us in some ethno-cultural sense. Conversely, it is daunting realization indeed, admitting that those diametrically opposite in ethno-culture are seldom the recipients of our compassion. Not being informed about the downward journey of Haiti and its Global Village post 1804, doesn’t make you a Negrophobe (if that were the case, African Americans would similarly suffer from this affliction, defying its very definition therewith). Denying the plausibility that we as the “high & mighty” activists be impervious to the pressures of the machine makes a sad case for the future of all disenfranchised peoples. The anomaly has been revealed. I still find it difficult to sympathize with the socio-economic woes of the Confederate flag-waving Dad’s of NASCAR; perhaps its because they are inexplicably different than I?
Confused and bewildered I remain.
JG is the lead Emcee for the politically leftist Hip-Hop duet, Over The Counter Intelligence ( JG & HavikenHayes), based in Fort Lauderdale Florida. They are most recognized through their support of various grassroots organizations throughout the country; most notably The Coalition of Immokalee Workers — The Taco Bell Boycott. They are of the best known Indie-Hip Hop groups nationwide. JG has written songs, articles and editorials specific to the oppression of the Haitian Global Village, most importantly, the virulent immigration statues pertaining to Haitian Refugees. He has recently recorded a solo album entitled “Insurgent,” which will be released this year via record label. JG & Over The Counter Intelligence will be performing at this year’s Taco Bell Boycott, 3-5, Irvine, CA.
He can be reached by email: JG_1804@hotmail.com