FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Keeping Haiti in Perspective

Recently Conan O’Brien announced he was visiting Haiti for a “Conan Without Borders” episode to “get in President Donald Trump’s face” for reportedly calling Haiti a bad word during a White House meeting on immigration policy.

O’Brien is in Haiti now and yesterday the comedian was filmed on a beach while exclaiming how beautiful the surroundings were. It is true that Haiti has great natural beauty but we can’t forget that people living in thatched huts, not far from that beach, are being denied basic rights. O’Brien is a smart guy and is not turning a blind eye to this fact.

Several days ago CNN’s Anderson Cooper gave O’Brien a glowing review of Haiti before the talk show host’s trip there. In a chat on “Conan,” Cooper declared the Caribbean nation “…among the richest countries I’ve ever been to.”

Yes, I would agree with Cooper that the Haitian people are indeed “rich people”, but not in a material sense. (Cooper knows this too.) Around 10 million Haitians are lacking the essentials. They live in a country that ranks almost first in the world for hardship.

Cooper also said, “The Haitian people are incredibly strong, carry themselves with such dignity, and for generations have had governments which have not paid attention to them, which have stolen from them, and yet, whatever adversity they have faced, they faced it head-on.”

This is all true too. But it is important to realize that even though Haitian people are very strong and face things “head-on”, they are not immune to pain and death. Haiti has a very high infant mortality rate, a very high maternal mortality rate, and a multitude of “stupid” infectious diseases that kill and maim and are “diseases of poverty”. And just because they carry themselves with dignity in the face of horrible circumstances, their dignity does not negate the very undignified crosses they carry.

We need to keep things in perspective. What word Trump used to describe Haiti is not important. As O’Brien explained, it is his attitude behind the word. It is the connotation that Haiti is not worth our time. This is the danger.

And even though both O’Brien and Cooper are well-meaning, we need to remember that during their visits to Haiti, just yards away from their security and cameras, are scrawny kids wearing rags and begging for…anything.

Keeping Haiti in perspective is important. Understanding President Trump’s motives is not difficult. But after that, we need to be careful.

More articles by:

John A. Carroll, M.D. is a physician working in Port-au-Prince.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
August 23, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Notes on Inauthenticity in a Creeping Fascist Nuthouse
Andrew Levine
Recession Now, Please
Rob Urie
Mr. Trump Goes to Kensington
Jeffrey St. Clair
Deep Time and the Green River, Floating
Robert Hunziker
Earth 4C Hotter
Kenneth Good
Congo’s Patrice Lumumba: The Winds of Reaction in Africa
Pete Dolack
The Realism and Unrealism of the Green New Deals
David Rosen
The White-Nationalist Great Fear
Kenn Orphan
The War on Indigenous People is a War on the Biosphere Itself
L. Michael Hager
What Netanyahu’s Travel Ban Has Revealed
Ramzy Baroud
Jewish Settlers Rule the Roost in Israel, But at What Price?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Is Environmental Protection Possible?
Josue De Luna Navarro
What It’s Like to Grow Up Hunted
Ralph Nader
They Don’t Make Republicans Like the Great Paul Findley Anymore!
Gary Olson
Whither the Resistance to our Capitalist Overlords?
Dean Baker
On Those Downward Jobs Revisions
Rev. William Alberts
Beware of the Gun-Lover-in-Chief
Helder F. do Vale
Brazil: From Global Leader to U.S. Lapdog
Laura Finley
Educators Actually Do “Work” in the Summer
Jim Goodman
Farmers Need a Bill of Rights
Tom Clifford
What China’s Leadership is Really Worried About: Rising Debt
Daphne Wysham
Saving the Planet Means Fighting Bipartisan Corruption
Tierra Curry
Amazon Fires Put the Planet at Risk
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Decentralize Power and Revive Regional Political Institutions
John W. Whitehead
American Apocalypse
George Wuerthner
How Agriculture and Ranching Subvert the Re-Wilding of America
Daniel Murphy
Capital in the 21st Century
Jessicah Pierre
400 Years After Slavery’s Start, No More Band-Aids
Kim C. Domenico
Finding the Comrades: Maintaining Precarious Sanity In Insane Times
Gary Leupp
“Based on the Fact She Won’t Sell Me Greenland, I’m Staying Home”
John Kendall Hawkins
The Chicago 8 Trial, Revisited
Rivera Sun
Tapping into People Power
Ted Rall
As Long as Enemies of the State Keep Dying Before Trial, No One Should Trust the State
Jesse Jackson
The Significance of the “1619 Project”
Thomas Knapp
“Nuance” in Politics and Public Policy? No Thanks
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and Endangered Species, Wildlife and Human
Mel Gurtov
China’s Hong Kong Nightmare, and the US Response
Ron Forthofer
Sick of Being a Guinea Pig
Nicky Reid
Why I Stopped Being White (and You Should Too)
Jill Richardson
As the School Year Starts, I’m Grateful for the ADA
Seth Sandronsky
Rethinking the GDR
Adolf Alzuphar
Tears / Ayizan Velekete
Stephen Cooper
General Jah Mikey: “I Just Love That Microphone, Man”
Louis Proyect
Slaves to the Clock
David Yearsley
Moral Cantatas
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail