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
December 13, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
The FBI: Another Worry in the National Security State
Rob Urie
Establishment Politics are for the Rich
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: That’s Neoliberalism for You
Paul Street
Midnight Ramble: A Fascist Rally in Hershey, Pennsylvania
Joan Roelofs
The Science of Lethality
Joyce Nelson
Buttigieg and McKinsey
Joseph Natoli
Equally Determined: To Impeach/To Support
Charles Pierson
The National Defense Authorization Act Perpetuates the Destruction of Yemen
REZA FIYOUZAT
An Outrageous Proposal: Peace Boats to Iran
Lee Hall
Donald Trump Jr., Mongolian Sheep Killer
Andrew Levine
A Plague on Both Their Houses, Plus a Dozen Poxes on Trump’s
David Rosen
Mortality Rising: Trump and the Death of the “American Dream”
Dave Lindorff
The Perils of Embedded Journalism: ‘Afghan Papers’ Wouldn’t Be Needed If We Had a Real Independent News Media
Brian Cloughley
Human Rights and Humbug in Washington
Stephen Leas
Hungry for a Livable Planet: Why I Went On Hunger Strike and Occupied Pelosi’s Office
Saad Hafiz
Pakistan Must Face Its Past
Lawrence Davidson
Deteriorating Climates: Home and Abroad
Cal Winslow
The End of the Era: Nineteen Nineteen
Louis Proyect
If Time Magazine Celebrates Greta Thunberg, Why Should We?
Thomas Drake
Kafka Down Under: the Threat to Whistleblowers and Press Freedom in Australia
Thomas Knapp
JEDI Mind Tricks: Amazon Versus the Pentagon and Trump
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s War on the Poor
Michael Welton
Seeing the World Without Shadows: the Enlightenment Dream
Ron Jacobs
The Wind That Shook the Barley: the Politics of the IRA
Rivera Sun
Beyond Changing Light Bulbs: 21 Ways You Can Stop the Climate Crisis
Binoy Kampmark
The Bloomberg Factor: Authoritarianism, Money and US Presidential Politics
Nick Pemberton
Ideology Shall Have No Resurrection
Rev. Susan K. Williams Smith
What Trump and the GOP Learned From Obama
Ramzy Baroud
‘Elected by Donors’: the University of Cape Town Fails Palestine, Embraces Israel
Cesar Chelala
Unsuccessful U.S. Policy on Cuba Should End
Harry Blain
The Conservatism of Impeachment
Norman Solomon
Will the Democratic Presidential Nomination Be Bought?
Howard Lisnoff
The One Thing That US Leaders Seem to Do Well is Lie
Jeff Cohen
Warren vs. Buttigieg Clash Offers Contrast with Sanders’ Consistency
Mel Gurtov
The Afghanistan Pentagon Papers
Gaither Stewart
Landslide … to Totalitarianism
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
How Blaming Nader in 2000 Paved the Way for Today’s Neo-Fascism
Steve Early
In Re-Run Election: LA Times Journalist Wins Presidency of NewsGuild 
David Swanson
If You’re Not Busy Plotting Nonviolent Revolution for Peace and Climate, You’re Busy Dying
Nicky Reid
Sorry Lefties, Your Impeachment is Bullshit
John Kendall Hawkins
The Terror Report You Weren’t Meant to See
Susan Block
Krampus Trumpus Rumpus
Martin Billheimer
Knight Crawlers
David Yearsley
Kanye in the West
Elliot Sperber
Dollar Store 
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail