FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail