FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Colonialism of the Mind

“Les intellectuels ont toujours été des courtisans. Ils ont toujours vécu dans le palais.”

“Intellectuals have always been courtesans. They have always lived in the palace.” – Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975)

Western journalists increasingly assume the voices of subjugated countries’ natives while muzzling them by denying them access to the press. In the United States, the more visible venues of the alternative press, such as online news sites Truthout, Common Dreams, and Huffington Post are essentially closed to native writers. This colonialism of the mind is rampant when it comes to Haiti.

Inspect the US alternative press for news of Haiti. You will find articles there by Beverly Bell, Mark Weisbrot, Robert Naiman, Jane Regan, Noam Chomsky, Stephen Lendman and others, but you will be hard put to find a Haitian name. Westerners, whatever their political leaning, do reserve their right to rule the world, and the right to pontificate to the ignorant natives is very much a part of it.

The current war against Haiti is an economic and propaganda war that requires a liberal use of aid money to undermine Haitian culture and agriculture. Such a war would be impossible without a simultaneous disinformation campaign to persuade the US, Canadian, and European public that their funds benefit Haiti. This is the task of the high priests of journalism. They promote the neoliberal agenda and encapsulate their disinformation in reasonable-seeming and progressive-sounding language.

On one issue after another, American speakers for Haiti cleverly echo “talking points” that are meant to enable neo-colonial policies. Their work is more insidious than that of the mainstream press, which is limited in its capacity to editorialize. In the hands of the colonialists of the mind, disinformation becomes a lethal candy: a cyanide pill coated with leftist-sounding sugar, much of it collected from the less visible publications of unacknowledged writers.

Blaming Isaac

Consider for example the Truthout article titled “Disaster Capitalism in New Orleans and Haiti,” in which Beverly Bell, who directs several non-governmental organizations (NGO) and sits on Truthout’s board of trustees, promoted two mainstream talking points about Haiti:

1. Expect a massive resurgence of cholera due to tropical storm Isaac.

2. Expect intense hunger due to Isaac.

Before her article, the same points had been vigorously repeated by Michel Martelly, the United Nations and the US government, with the aim of attracting a new infusion of aid money. The first point is unfounded, and the second is untrue. It is more reasonable to assume that the vast quantities of potable rainwater contributed by the storm should help to prevent, rather than promote, cholera. As for Haiti’s agricultural production: it plummeted by 20 percent in 2011 and was expected to crash in 2012 due to USAID policies, and quite without any help from a natural disaster.

The two talking points — presented early in Bell’s article — are actually the reason for the article. The rest is decoration with history, culture, and politics liberally borrowed from the essay “New-Orleans & Port-au-Prince: Two Tales Of Government Failures,” published two years earlier by Gilbert Mercier in News Junkie Post.

I invite the reader to compare the two articles and learn to recognize the strategy of embedding items of disinformation within a text that appears to be truthful and progressive.

The same unfounded talking point linking Isaac to cholera is echoed by Mark Weisbrot  in “Tropical Storm Isaac Heads for Haiti, Likely to Leave a Spike in Cholera in its Wake.” Mr. Weisbrot is a well-known pundit on Haiti and Latin America and co-director of the NGO, Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR).

“A disease of the poor”: Haitians as the unhygienic ones

The above predictions from Isaac were not the first campaign to blame cholera on something other than its actual source. When cholera first appeared in Haiti in October 2010, the disease, which was certainly known by US and UN authorities to originate from UN troops, was immediately attributed to the terrible hygiene of the Haitian poor and, by extension, predicted to grow into a massive epidemic, especially in the homeless camps.

On November 18, 2010 CNN wrote:

“A lack of treated drinking water, coupled with poor hand hygiene and food-preparation practices, make the 1.3 million people still living in camps particularly vulnerable, according to a new study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention….

“The CDC has said the strain of the cholera bacteria responsible is ‘indistinguishable’ from one found in other parts of the world, including south Asia, but researchers are unlikely to be able to pinpoint how it arrived in Haiti.”

About one month later, Beverly Bell enjoined with the statements:

“This past week has… provided the perfect conditions for a spike in cholera, what Partners in Health calls ‘a disease of poverty’ which impacts those without safe drinking water…. Because sanitation workers could not get to the camps, toilets and garbage overflowed to extremes…. The sporadic rains throughout the week, moreover, spread contaminated water and sewage, perfect vectors for the disease.”

This enthusiasm to blame the poor for their misfortune was decorated with passionate language that appeared to defend the poor and decry their living conditions. In fact, the cholera predictions were unfounded. Haiti’s cholera outbreak was most serious, not in the camps in Port-au-Prince – home of the poorest of the poor — but in a pristine rural region that had become contaminated by the wastes of Nepalese soldiers from a UN base.

There was never any basis to the prediction that cholera would become epidemic in Haiti, and there is still no basis to the predictions that it will spike or indefinitely continue. In April 2012, Dr. Renaud Piarroux argued that Haiti’s cholera could be gone in a matter of months, and as Cuba has showed, an outbreak of cholera can be stopped in as few as 60 days with the appropriate education, epidemiological surveillance, care, and provision of clean drinking water.

Dady Chery is the Editor of Haiti Chery and the co-Editor in Chief of News Junkie Post. This article was originally published in News Junkie Post

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 16, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Uncle Sam was Born Lethal
Jennifer Matsui
La Danse Mossad: Robert Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein
Rob Urie
Neoliberalism and Environmental Calamity
Stuart A. Newman
The Biotech-Industrial Complex Gets Ready to Define What is Human
Nick Alexandrov
Prevention Through Deterrence: The Strategy Shared by the El Paso Shooter and the U.S. Border Patrol
Jeffrey St. Clair
The First Dambuster: a Coyote Tale
Eric Draitser
“Bernie is Trump” (and other Corporate Media Bullsh*t)
Nick Pemberton
Is White Supremacism a Mental Illness?
Jim Kavanagh
Dead Man’s Hand: The Impeachment Gambit
Andrew Levine
Have They No Decency?
David Yearsley
Kind of Blue at 60
Ramzy Baroud
Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The War on Nature
Martha Rosenberg
Catch and Hang Live Chickens for Slaughter: $11 an Hour Possible!
Yoav Litvin
Israel Fears a Visit by Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib
Neve Gordon
It’s No Wonder the Military likes Violent Video Games, They Can Help Train Civilians to Become Warriors
Susan Miller
That Debacle at the Border is Genocide
Ralph Nader
With the Boeing 737 MAX Grounded, Top Boeing Bosses Must Testify Before Congress Now
Victor Grossman
Warnings, Ancient and Modern
Meena Miriam Yust - Arshad Khan
The Microplastic Threat
Kavitha Muralidharan
‘Today We Seek Those Fish in Discovery Channel’
Louis Proyect
The Vanity Cinema of Quentin Tarantino
Bob Scofield
Tit For Tat: Baltimore Takes Another Hit, This Time From Uruguay
Nozomi Hayase
The Prosecution of Julian Assange Affects Us All
Ron Jacobs
People’s Music for the Soul
John Feffer
Is America Crazy?
Jonathan Power
Russia and China are Growing Closer Again
John W. Whitehead
Who Inflicts the Most Gun Violence in America? The U.S. Government and Its Police Forces
Justin Vest
ICE: You’re Not Welcome in the South
Jill Richardson
Race is a Social Construct, But It Still Matters
Dean Baker
The NYT Gets the Story on Automation and Inequality Completely Wrong
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Retains Political Control After New US Coercive Measures
Gary Leupp
MSNBC and the Next Election: Racism is the Issue (and Don’t Talk about Socialism)
R. G. Davis
Paul Krassner: Investigative Satirist
Negin Owliaei
Red State Rip Off: Cutting Worker Pay by $1.5 Billion
Christopher Brauchli
The Side of Trump We Rarely See
Curtis Johnson
The Unbroken Line: From Slavery to the El Paso Shooting
Jesse Jackson
End Endless War and Bring Peace to Korea
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: What About a New City Center?
Tracey L. Rogers
Candidates Need a Moral Vision
Nicky Reid
I Was a Red Flag Kid
John Kendall Hawkins
The Sixties Victory Lap in an Empty Arena
Stephen Cooper
Tony Chin’s Unstoppable, Historic Career in Music
Charles R. Larson
Review: Bruno Latour’s Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime
Elizabeth Keyes
Haiku Fighting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail