"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality." --Bishop Desmond Tutu

Friday, January 22, 2010

Racism at the NRO? Surely NOT! Mark Krikorian

In an article at the NRO entitled What to Do About Haiti?, Mark Krikorian posits that the primary reason that Haiti is so screwed up is that they weren't colonized long enough.

"But, unlike Jamaicans and Bajans and Guadeloupeans, et al., after experiencing
the worst of tropical colonial slavery, the Haitians didn't stick around long
enough to benefit from it. (Haiti became independent in 1804.). And by benefit I
mean develop a local culture significantly shaped by the more-advanced
civilization of the colonizers. Sure, their creole language is influenced by
French, but they never became black Frenchmen, like the Martiniquais, or
'Afro-Saxons,' like the Barbadians. Where a similar creolization took place in
Africa, you saw a similar thing — the Cape Coloureds, who are basically black
Afrikaaners, and even the Swahili peoples of the east African coast, who are
Arabized blacks. A major indicator of how superficial is the overlay of French
culture in Haiti is the strength of paganism, in the form of voodoo — the French
just weren't around long enough to suppress it, to the detriment of Haitians."
Let me suggest another alternative. Haiti owes much of it's poverty to exactly the opposite of what Kirkorian asserts: a long-standing racist approach to the 2nd oldest republic in the western hemisphere. In our arrogance we think we're the only people with a history to remember. We think that our revolution and our position in the world grants us special status to judge the lives of others.

Haiti has a history and a story of her own. And it's a story written, more often than not, in the blood of her people.

Between 1849 and 1913, US Navy ships entered Haitian waters 24 times to "protect
American lives and property." Haiti's independence was scarcely given even "token recognition," Schmidt observes in his standard history, and there was little consideration for the rights of its people. They are "an inferior
people," unable "to maintain the degree of civilization left them by the French or to develop any capacity of self government entitling them to international respect and confidence,"
Assistant Secretary of State William Phillips wrote, recommending the policy of invasion and US military government that President Woodrow Wilson soon adopted. Few words need be wasted on the civilization left to 90 percent of the population by the French, who, as an ex-slave related, "hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars..., forced them to eat shit,
... cast them alive to be devoured by worms, or onto anthills, or lashed them to
stakes in the swamp to be devoured by mosquitos, ...threw them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup" -- when not "flaying them with the lash" to extract the
wealth that helped give France its entry ticket to the rich men's club.
The French did more to fuck up the world than any other colonial power (with the possible exception of the Belgians who destroyed the Congo). To assert that Haiti was somehow better off under the rule of the French is racist, imperialist and just fucking stupid.

Note: For a decent short history of the Haitian revolution, read this.

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