Friday, January 22, 2010

Krikorian: Problem with Haiti- slavery ended too soon

Over the past ten days much has been written about Haiti's troubled past, the ramifications and causes of it's crushing poverty and political instability, and the historical role many nations have played in perpetuating it's suffering.

Of course coupled with these lessons in colonial, and post-colonial geo-political history have been the expected wingnut assertions like those of Pat Robinson about Haiti's "pack with the devil"

But now, thanks to Mark Krikorian, of the Center for Immigration Studies, a far-right "think tank" opposed to immigration, we get this little tidbit of neo-colonial/white-man's burden analysis of why Haiti remains the poorest nation in the hemisphere:

From NRO:

Why isn't Haiti like Jamaica or Barbados? Those places certainly have their problems, but they're not dystopian like Haiti.....

My guess is that Haiti's so screwed up because it wasn't colonized long enough. The ancestors of today's Haitians, like elsewhere in the Caribbean, experienced the dislocation of de-tribalization, which disrupted the natural ties of family and clan and ethnicity. They also suffered the brutality of sugar-plantation slavery, which was so deadly that the majority of slaves at the time of independence were African-born, because their predecessors hadn't lived long enough to reproduce.

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.

According to Krikorian, if only the pesky Haitians had abandoned their fight for freedom (as the only successful slave revolt and revolution in history) and remained under the whip for another 40 years like their counterparts in other former slave colonies, they would have had time to absorb the greater wisdom and culture of their oppressors, and their nation wouldn't be the basket case of the western hemisphere it is today.

No mention made of the harsh reparations the ex-slaves were forced to pay their former masters (equal to $21 billion in today’s dollars) that took from 1825 to 1947 pay and crippled Haiti's economy for more than a century. No acknowledgement that a successful slave revolt and revolution of colonial peoples of color in the late eighteenth-early nineteenth century was more frightening to the ruling powers of the time than any Taliban or Al Qaeda could ever be today, and all efforts were made to isolate the tiny nation in order prevent the spread of revolt and revolution to the rest of the occupied world. No insight into the years of foreign interference, domination, and manipulation of the Haitian political system by European and US government and corporate interests.

Nope... The Hatians, like their black brothers and sisters in certain areas of deep dark Africa, just never managed to absorb the wisdom and knowledge of their white colonial benefactors according to Krikorian.

But, thankfully, Mr. Krikorian offers up a solution to this lack of proper schooling of the poor, ignorant Haitian people in the white mans ways.... return them back to paternalistic colonial control until such time as they can make it on their own.

So what can we do about it? As much as we'd like to go back to ignoring the place, we can't, if for no other reason than a continually dysfunctional Haiti means boat people in Miami.....

But if Haiti's problem is a stunted, dysfunctional culture caused by an interrupted process of colonial development, then it follows that a solution would be to resume colonialism...

...but, as we've found in Iraq, Americans just don't do colonies very well. In fact, the time of conventional colonization is past — it's not just that the Haitians value their independence, nominal though it might be; it's that there's no developed nation who'd want to bother.

Instead, Haiti needs to become a like U.N. Trust Territory, essentially putting it into receivership. Unlike past examples, Haiti wouldn't be administered by a single nation but rather collectively, perhaps by the OAS, since the U.N. is almost as feckless as Haiti itself. This is the de facto situation now, with the complete absence of national government, but by formalizing it, the needed "intrusive paternalism" might be more likely.

As ridiculous as Krikorian's assertions are, his mere spouting off of this kind of archaic, white-mans-burden drivel, raises one very serious question:

Why is this nut, and the organization he runs, still viewed as in any way credible on any issue.

Why is he called before Congress to testify as an expert witness on anything. Why are his groups "studies" and statements taken at all seriously by anyone in both the media or government.

How much longer will it be, and how many times must we listen to his lies, racism, and distortions before he and the rest of the puppets in the Tanton network of anti-immigration front groups are finally discredited and relegated to the dustbin of history, just like his paternalistic, colonial view of the world.

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