While many are opening their hearts and purses to Haiti’s suffering, itÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s important to note the corporate media’s high profile exceptions. Televangelist Pat Robertson, carried on Disney‘s Family Channel, suggested Haiti invited the disaster by making a deal with the devil 200 years ago (FAIR Blog, 1/14/09). Radio big Rush Limbaugh discouraged donating to Haiti disaster relief on his January 13 show, saying: “We’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax…. You just canÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢t keep throwing money at it.” Meanwhile, Fox‘s Bill O’Reilly and New York Times columnist David Brooks each presented nauseatingly patronizing prescriptions for HaitiÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s rehabilitation.
On his January 13 show, O’Reilly said the way to cure Haiti’s economic and social problems was to impose discipline on Haitians:
My travels there have been illuminating. Only half the population can read and write. Unemployment’s more than 50 percent. Most Haitians live on less than $2 a day. No matter how much charity is given, no matter how many good intentions there are, Haiti will remain chaotic until discipline is imposed.
In his January 15 Times column, David Brooks offered his prescription: To “fix” their “progress-resistant culture,” Haiti needs to develop “No Excuses countercultures,” and turn to paternalism:
It’s time to promote locally led paternalism. In this country, we first tried to tackle poverty by throwing money at it, just as we did abroad. Then we tried microcommunity efforts, just as we did abroad. But the programs that really work involve intrusive paternalism.
But according to the human rights group MADRE, the U.S. has already tried that:
Ironically, Brooks’ prescription of “intrusive paternalism” to “fix the culture,” aptly sums up U.S. policy towards Haiti for the past 100 years: a brutal military occupation from 1915 to 1934; support for dictatorship from 1957 to 1986; and, more recently, the imposition of trade policies that have further impoverished people. What the outside world needs to “fix” is not Haitian culture, but its own self-serving policies that have left thousands of Haitians literally buried alive.
Bill Fletcher, executive editor of Black Commentator, had more to say on this subject on the latest edition of FAIR’s radio show CounterSpin (1/15/10).