"...if the essential background history to a story reflects poorly on the actions of the US government - that history will be deleted, scrubbed, sanitized - sent down the memory hole."NPR's Haiti earthquake coverage has been as dismally truncated as any of its censored-history stories. Everyone can agree that the earthquake in Haiti is a horror and that immediate rescue and relief is needed. But people do wonder why the devastation was so overwhelming and complete, and it does have a history. If the history is not honestly covered then the answers are provided by the creepy, rightwing fringe (sort of fringe) types like Pat Robertson (not always fringe on NPR either), or the creepy, respectable rightwing sorts like the smirking NPR regular, David Brooks who states in the NYT,
"Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.So how was NPR's coverage of Haiti's history?
We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them."
- On Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Morning Edition Deborah Amos interviewed Miami Herald writer Jacqueline Charles about how great the past year was for progress in Haiti: "I've been reporting on this country for years now and in the last couple of years...in the last two or three years, the country has been enjoying relative stability. I just recently wrote a story about how it was going to get its first international hotel franchise in a decade because investors were starting to feel confident, both Haitians and non-Haitians alike." Ah yes, investors have brought such wonderful benefits to Haiti over the years.
- On Thursday, January 14, 2010 All Thing Considered NPR turns to Johanna Mendelson Forman - stalwart of the US foreign policy and military establishment - to sing the praises of the UN's role in Haiti. Michelle Kellemen tells us that "she said the U.N. mission in Haiti had a lot of successes in recent years, ....everybody was looking at a 2010 that was going to have a much more significant investment future, a greater opportunity for jobs." That's an interesting take on the UN, because as Peter Hallward notes in the Guardian/UK, after the US-backed coup against Aristide in 2004, "The UN has subsequently maintained a large and enormously expensive stabilisation and pacification force in the country....[and] the same countries scrambling to send emergency help to Haiti now, however, have during the last five years consistently voted against any extension of the UN mission's mandate beyond its immediate military purpose."
- Also on Thursday's January 14, 2010 ATC Bob Siegel lets the current IMF chief claim that the IMF is going to help Haiti in a big way. Of course, Siegel doesn't bring up any unpleasant reminders about the IMF's role in trashing Haiti - Got Rice?
- On Friday January 15, 2010 ME Deborah Amos had a friendly chat with former US ambassador to Haiti, Timothy Carney - a fellow with a sordid track record in Haiti. With Amos' able assistance Carney gets away with turning history completely on its head. He tells Amos that, along with aid money, the international community "has to have some expectations of Haitians... an end to the sterile politics of group and gang, with an eye on personal advantage, that has dominated the politics of Haiti for, since its independence." Yes, indeed, groups and gangs (French and US) have definitely been sucking the blood and money out of Haiti since its independence.
- On Friday January 15, 2010 ATC NPR goes looking for a Haitian willing to carve up history, and so heads over to the cynically named right-wing Haiti Democracy Project [which the above Timothy Carney once chaired - surprise!]. NPR finds Arielle Jean-Baptiste who -guess what? - blames Haitians for their disastrous history: "They resign themselves to what they have. They don't demand accountability from their government....So it is frustrating because there is a certain mindset in Haiti where they get together to get rid of a bad government, but they are unable to get themselves together to build." Her answer to "fix" Haiti? Got a guess? "We [the international community] should get more involved in agro industry in Haiti and economic growth." Just like the good old days, I guess. (NPR obviously knows just how unbiased [hee, hee] this "marching with the President Aristide's opposition" Jean-Baptiste character is.)