How many people have died in the last four days – 1,000? 10,000? Because of the lack of a rope. Or a crowbar. Or a wheelbarrow. Or a tent. Or water? What we are seeing played out in Haiti is the malign side of the action movie ideology. In this ideology, the people are ‘victims’, they are ‘helpless’, the must be ‘rescued’. This is the ideology that has created the astonishing spectacle of the U.S., the richest nation in the world, represented by the Southern Command, basically scratching its head for three days about how to get “into” Haiti.
The rescuers are already there. They are called Haitians. The inability to see them for what they are – helping hands, fonts of information and ingenuity, centers of rescue – is killing them.
Yes, Haiti, the poorest place in the Western hemisphere, will need an influx of doctors and nurses. But the labor to be done, the caring to be extended, the information about the places – down to addresses of houses in Delmas – is already there. Why is it not being used? Partly because emergency response structures simply have not taken into account the new world of communication – the internet. But mostly because a mindset, on both the left and right, insists on seeing the Haitians as victims, not rescuers. Normally, this is the kind of thesis that should go into an academic paper. But the letter now killeth. We observe, with sinking hearts, the cloud of witnesses whose witness is in vain. This is a typical message on facebook: “Olivier Dupoux is distributing drinking water to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti with 35 trucks he urgently needs DIESEL fuel !! Bring diesel to factory Rte #1Cazeau, corner of tabbar 34 01 11 12”. Did anybody hear it? We know in Jacmal, Claudy Lavaud Jules, who runs a hotel-restaurant that is still standing, has taken in a number of refugees. Has anybody contacted her? Jacmal, from all reports, has a working airport. Nothing is landing there. Why?
In crisis, all the old shit bubbles to the surface. We saw this in New Orleans. Well, there are geological strata of shit involving Sainte Domingue/Haiti that go back over the centuries of mass murder. Fine. I don’t expect this to change in the blink of an eye. But it is obvious, it is a fire crying in the sun obvious, that the refusal to take the people being ‘rescued’ seriously is murdering them.
In my tiny flyspeck of a life, I will not pretend this is not going on. I am screaming.
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