It breaks my heart. Just Monday, The PBS News Hour had a segment on as part of their series on fragile states, detailing how the Haitian textile industry was set for a comeback, particularly through the work of Bill Clinton. The title of the report? “Despite Years of Crushing Poverty, Hope Grows in Haiti.” I can’t even bring myself to read the transcript.
I donated to the Red Cross and UNICEF. There was no question in my mind. In listening to wingnut radio this morning, I was happy to hear that both of the hosts were advertising a number to call for a charity to donate to.
This afternoon was quite different. I pulled up “Katrina Trash” Chris Baker while I was at work and found that his producer was on the air, making jokes about having fired Baker. (I’ll leave that to another post.) The producer also decided that he was obligated to mention the earthquake in Haiti, but what he really wanted to talk about was how there is scientific proof that men are better than women. How insightful producer guy!
Later, on the way home, Michael Berry wasn’t much better. He just couldn’t decide if giving aid to Haiti was a good thing to do and asked his listeners to call in (or text or email). Most of the arguments were about Hurricane Ike and how people are hurting here at home and that the government shouldn’t be in the charity business. A couple of callers I heard used Haiti’s history to decide that it wasn’t a good idea to donate or help them. Sort of like it’s their own fault that two tectonic plates decided to slide against each other. (For example: one caller pointed out that Haiti and the Dominican Republic are on the same island and what a difference there was between them. How could one plate and another exist under one island?!? How could one city get hit by a hurrican and not another? How could one part of an island flood and not another? Gee, I don’t know!!!!) It’s clear that neither Michael Berry or his listeners saw the News Hour piece — otherwise all of them would have been lamenting the fact that Haiti had it’s hopes dashed.
I would be irresponsible not to speculate that wingnut listeners, after having seen wall to wall coverage of poor black people (“it’s Katrina all over again!”) in a foreign country on their teevees all day, as well as yet another appearance by the president guy reading from his teleprompter, had decided by 5:00 CST that it was just not their problem. But they have to have some excuse, so they fired up their computers and looked around Free Republic or other websites and decided that, heck, there are houses somewhere along the Texas coast that still haven’t been rebuilt since Hurricane Ike, there are Americans unemployed, our country is in debt, and you know what, fuck those Haitians. I would be irresponsible not to speculate that many of Michael Berry’s listeners had had about enough of the blacks on the teevee for one day. And last but not least, for every excuse each had for not giving or doing something for the people in Haiti, none of them did or will ever do a damn thing for anyone else.
It’s a no-brainer — whether or not to help. In the aftermath of Katrina, many nations offered to help us, though that was more because they had competence in the problem areas rather than something about resources. Those nations got burned by the Bush administration. Again. And wrt to Ike or unemployment, sorry, there is no equivalence. Problems with Ike recovery are not about a lack of funds on a national level. Far from it. If all of Michael Berry’s callers are so worried about Ike victims (I can still hear Berry cry over the air “PEOPLE DIED!11!11!1!1!11!!), then they would have done something about it before now, dontchathink?