Raechel here.

I haven’t been by for a while and I thought I’d explain, so people wouldn’t wonder, the way I am about Margaret and Helen.  While I’m on that subject, some have speculated that Margaret and Helen aren’t two old broads, but a bunch of youngsters who are doing their blog as a sort of combination performance art / political commentary.  Let’s hope that’s not true, because Helen is my hero.  And that probably means it is true, because one thing I’ve learned in all these years is that there’s no such thing as a hero.  Just people.  Some better than others, but just people.

Tonight I talked with an acquaintance who suggested that the solution to the Haiti problem was to send a bunch of unemployed Michigan construction people there, to teach the Haitians how to build proper buildings, because after all, “earthquakes don’t kill people, bad buildings kill people.”  Now what in the world do you suppose a Michigan construction worker would do when faced with a pile of rubble (decaying bodies, rats) in a country where there’s no lumber yard, no Home Depot, no Ace Hardware, no electricity for those power tools, and where people make their own “concrete” blocks out of mud and rocks, which is the only thing there is plenty of there?  How do you respond to ignorance like that?

I was thinking last night about the Haiti “problem,” about how it was a problem we helped create and should have done something about long ago, and how utterly impossible it is now.  The only thing you can do is get all of those people either away from the city and into refugee camps in the mountains or get them off-island.   At some point you have to do something about the decaying bodies, but you can’t do anything until you’re ready to give up on the people trapped and maybe — just maybe — alive.  And who can make that call?  So thousands will die of disease because you might be able to save one more person buried in the rubble.   And in the meantime, the rats multiply.  Where is the rubble going to go, anyway?  Fill up the harbor?  While we all focus on the little stories (five TV cameras for every rescue worker), the big story is getting bigger, because we Americans like to feel good about ourselves and our ability to handle everything.   We have to be heroes.

I seem to have gotten side-tracked.  I haven’t been here because I am writing grant proposals — submitted three last week, one more this week, another next week.   So I’m somewhat fried, and as you can see, not quite up to humor.  So shoot me.


One response »

  1. Sarah says she had to read this three times before she figured out who I thought was ignorant. She was probably making a finer point, but I’m going to assume I wasn’t clear. Haiti. We hear that they’re the “poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.” What does that mean? Well, it means they have nothing. It’s the country where people were feeding their children mud cookies a few years ago. We know nothing of the life Haitians lead.

    Haiti was colonized initially by the Spanish, who managed to nearly exterminate the indigenous population. The island became a coffee and sugar-growing African slave colony, so brutal that new slaves had to be brought in from Africa continuously — no one survived more than a couple of years. When, after many years of vicious fighting, the colony was freed from French control, the United States, bowing to objections by Southern slave states, refused to recognize it. In exchange for recognition by France, the country that had so brutally exploited it, Haiti had to agree to pay compensation for the loss of property, so it began under heavy foreign debt.

    Haiti achieved some stability and prosperity in the late 1800s, but that was interrupted by the US, which had concerns about the growing influence of German immigrants. Long story short, the US, responding to concerns of American banks, occupied the country, forced it to adopt a new constitution, and prepared it for American “investment.”

    The last thing Haiti needs is a bunch of American companies coming in to “rebuild” it. The last thing we need is our tax monies pouring into the pockets of a few more Halliburtons. WE are ignorant, if we think that what that country needs is just a little more intervention by American corporate concerns.

    Oh, and about Margaret and Helen? Well, there hasn’t been a post on their website since Dec. 7, so I’m wondering what’s going on. Google “Margaret and Helen” if you haven’t heard of them before and want to take a look.

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