The People We Don’t Know-Haiti

Posted: 19 February 2010 in Everything Else...
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A few weeks back David Brooks decided to enlighten all of us about why Haiti is just so damn poor.  Sitting in his sheltered world of privilege he stooped to the streets of Haiti (virtually yet assuredly) and proclaimed that certain cultural deficits (everything from voodoo to child rearing practices) were at the heart of this country’s problems.  Paying scant attention to Haiti’s historical specificities he proclaimed with a certain blithe finality that “history” could not explain why Haiti remained so poor.  His argument boiled down to this: “Hey, lots of countries have had slavery, lots of countries are victims of natural disasters, but none of them is doing as badly as Haiti”.

And so off he went on the “cultural deficits” argument to explain Haiti’s dysfunctionality, concluding that what Haiti needed was

…self-confident local leaders who will create No Excuses countercultures in places like Haiti, surrounding people — maybe just in a neighborhood or a school — with middle-class assumptions, an achievement ethos and tough, measurable demands.

Thank God for David Brooks and his in depth knowledge of this country…

David Brooks meet Yvrose.

We (Brooks included) need to listen to her story and then go to Haiti and meet with the committed workers at Fonkoze and listen to the stories of hundreds of other “Yvroses” in that country.  Then, for the real history of that land grab a copy of The Uses of Haiti by Paul Farmer and learn why Brooks’ simplistic historical analysis may work for his column but comes nowhere near telling of the reality of that place.

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