Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Untold Stories: Haiti, White Supremacy, US Foreign Policy and Corporate Media

Untold Stories: Haiti, White Supremacy, US Foreign Policy and Corporate Media

by Solomon Comissiong

The U.S. corporate media has a difficult time covering the Haiti catastrophe. “Haiti's poverty and economic desolation were largely made-in-America,” an inconvenient fact to transmit to American audiences. Corporate media's “job is to invoke pity, confusion, and ignorance, as well as to uphold the benevolence of white supremacy.”

On January 12 the people of Haiti were devastated by an uncontrollable force of nature, a massive earthquake. There is untold loss of life. The infrastructural destruction is enormous. People from all walks of life and from all corners of the globe are responding with aid relief as part of their humanitarian duty.

Countries like Venezuela, Cuba, and China were among the first to respond to the catastrophic scene in and around Port Au Prince, Haiti. An earthquake of that magnitude (7.0 on the Richter scale) would cause significant damage to any nation; however in a country as economically poor as Haiti the impact is drastically worse.

Despite being resource rich, Haiti is a nation that is home to many of the most impoverished people within the Western Hemisphere. The Western corporate media often discuss Haiti’s poverty without context, without background or explanation as to how they came to be so economically impoverished.

Viewers are prevented from connecting with Haitians beyond a misguided paternalistic sentiment. This type of half-assed “journalism” is beyond unprofessional; it is rooted in racism and white supremacy. Such “coverage” robs the people of Haiti of an identity as well as a history, while the US government’s nefarious foreign policies continue unchallenged by the corporate “news.”

I have been overcome with a number of emotions since first learning of the tremendous carnage and irreplaceable loss of life throughout Haiti. My initial emotions and feelings consisted of: hurt, pain, grief, and helplessness. However, as I began to watch the mainstream media’s coverage of the disaster in Haiti, the emotion of anger began to surface.

Consistently, anchormen/women, from all major networks described Haiti and its people as if they were pathetic little children incapable of self rule or self determination, or as savages destined for poverty and plight. As if Haitians, when left to their own devices, chose lawlessness and governmental chaos.

Just 24 hours after the earthquake hit these “descriptions” could be found everywhere from the racist Fox News Channel to the so-called “liberal” MSNBC. However, shame on me for briefly expecting more. I should have known better – that the role of the corporate media is not to provide critical analysis of important issues and events; it is to obfuscate and uphold the status quo.

Far be it from the US corporate media to provide its audiences with insight and perspective as to why and how the people of Haiti got so poor. They clearly don’t have the morality or ethics to elucidate to their audiences why the Haitians have very little infrastructure (outside of Port-au-Prince) or rudimentary disaster relief services throughout the country. They don’t have the thoroughness and professionalism to explain to audiences why the Haitians have no 911 emergency services whatsoever.

Corporate media's objective is not to move their viewers towards understanding the root causes of Haiti’s poverty and why it exacerbates the effects of the earthquake. Their job is, unfortunately, not to explain how the Haitians have been catching hell from the likes of France and the US for centuries. Their job is to invoke pity, confusion, and ignorance, as well as to uphold the benevolence of white supremacy.

Americans have been so dumbed down over the years that they don’t even ask themselves the question of how and why the Haitian people have been so impoverished for so long.

Haitians of African ancestry have been catching hell dating back to their abduction by Europeans (Spanish and then French), forced transfer to the western part of Hispaniola, and their subsequent brutal enslavement. After the Spanish murdered the entire Arawak population, enslaved Africans became increasingly valuable to the shiftless and amoral Europeans. The resilient black Africans ultimately rebelled, led by the likes of Toussaint-Louverture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines, and gained their independence from the French in 1804.

Throughout its history Haiti has stood as a partner in freedom to many oppressed nations. Haiti played a considerable role in assisting countries like Venezuela, Columbia and Ecuador in gaining their independence from Spain. Haiti became the first independent nation founded and established by formerly enslaved Africans. Haiti also became the first nation where former slaves were expected to pay reparations for their liberty.

France demanded Haiti pay over 160 million francs for defeating Napoleon’s “mighty” military, as well as contributing to France’s subsequent loss of slave labor. The unwarranted debt, reduced to 60 million francs (plus interest), was finally paid off in 1947. This crime, in and of itself left Haiti and its people impoverished. Having to use close to 80 percent of its national budget on so-called reparations repayments crippled Haiti, as it would any country of that size.

One of the reasons which made it virtually impossible for Haiti to fully recover was the continued illegal occupation by the US government by way of its imperialist military. For over a century the US has invaded, occupied, and supported coups throughout Haiti, in order to make it easier for the Americans to exploit the country.

The US government has functioned like a loan shark to nations like Haiti, the world over. Washington uses the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to “strong arm” impoverished nations to stay in debt in perpetuity, all the while plundering their resources and cheap labor. The US has imposed Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) as a pretext to flood Haiti with cheap American rice, thus preventing Haitian farmers from being able to compete in their own country.

These SAPs are similar to corrupt credit card policies with exorbitant interest rates and multiple strings attached. SAP’s “strings” prevent developing nations from using much of their revenue to build schools, hospitals and to invest in education. The World Bank and IMF are designed to promote unfettered capitalism and manipulate the resources of developing nations – America's capitalistic idea of a “free market.”

In a sick twist of irony the 42nd and 43rd US presidents (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush) have been asked by current US President Barack Obama to play high-profile roles in Haitian relief efforts, when in fact both men are hugely complicit in the destabilization of Haiti.

No one could have prevented last week's earthquake, however, Haiti's poverty and economic desolation were largely made-in-America. Haitians are not cursed by the devil or God, despite what the morally challenged and demented televangelist Pat Robertson said. If there is a hell, the likes of Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh will have one-way tickets there upon leaving this earth. The only curses that have afflicted Haiti are the same ones that have afflicted most countries with people of color, and that is the curse and inherent evil of white supremacy, imperialism and neocolonialism.

May we all have the courage to finally put an end to America’s nefarious foreign polices.
Solomon Comissiong is an educator, community activist, author, public speaker and the host of the Your World News radio program (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Your-World-News). He may be reached at: sunderland77@hotmail.com.

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