What would you do?

Imagine, reader, that your city is shattered by a disaster. Your home no longer exists, and you spent what cash was in your pockets days ago. Your credit cards are meaningless because there is no longer any power to run credit-card charges. Actually, there are no longer any storekeepers, any banks, any commerce, or much of anything to buy. The economy has ceased to exist.

When the media is the disaster [hat tip, Mr T]

What would you do?

This is what I’m talking about, a very good analysis of the media’s coverage of Haiti. Reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina in that “blighted” and “doomed” American city of New Orleans.

Do you remember the photos of  “looters”, chest deep in water, carrying a loaf of bread. Oh yeah, and they were black too. Sound familiar?

It’s days like this that really make one despair about the future of journalism. This seems like a more accurate report of Hurricane Katrina.

You know the refrain from inky-fingered editors: “We have to beat the idealism out of them”, when young graduates hit the newsroom.

By the time they’re senior enough to be sent to Haiti, the cynicism and the routinism take over.

OK, all you hot-shot reporters in Port-au-Prince on your expense account cushioned arses, riddle me these five “no brainers”:

  1. What the f(*^ would you do if you’re city was blasted to smithereens by a natural disaster?
  2. Would you scavenge the bare necessities of life from the wreckage?
  3. Would you wait in line peacefully and accept being pepper-sprayed to get your meagre daily bread?
  4. Would you accept that you had to go back to work, for $3.20 a day, to pay for the relief effort conducted in your name?
  5. Would you want US Marines and racist UN troopers occupying your neighbourhood for the foreseeable future?

I didn’t think so!

Apply a bit of “in your shoes, but for the grace of God” and wake up to the real story…and the punchline is the real story is not about “humanitarian’ disaster relief or so-called  “looters”, it’s about politics and capitalism.

The fact is that—while undoubtedly humane and moral—the vast, sophisticated U.S. effort hasn’t been motivated solely by humanitarian concerns. It has also been part of a calculated attempt to showcase American values and boost American “soft power” in an age when the White House considers the development of anti-American feeling—especially in places that could become failed states or gravitate toward hostile powers—a strategic threat. Nor is the United States the only nation that sees humanitarian aid as a cutting-edge way to advance its interests. Which means that the once cooperative realm of disaster relief is rapidly becoming the new battlefield of great-power conflict.

US Proxy war in Haiti [Tx Norman]

Check an atlas, the hostile power could be Cuba, Venezuela, Guatemala, or Bolivia, or even Mexico. “It’s all about the oil, stupid!”

Postscript: I’ve just read this great piece by John Pilger, The kidnapping of Haiti. I mentioned the BBC’s Matt Frei a few days ago. He’d called for a fullscale US invasion and occupation as the only “hope” for Haiti. Here’s Pilger’s assessment:

The first TV reports played a critical role, giving the impression of widespread criminal mayhem. Matt Frei, the BBC reporter dispatched from Washington, seemed on the point of hyperventilation as he brayed about the “violence” and need for “security.”

In spite of the demonstrable dignity of the earthquake victims and evidence of citizens’ groups toiling unaided to rescue people, and even an American general’s assessment that the violence in Haiti was considerably less than before the earthquake, Frei claimed that “looting is the only industry” and “the dignity of Haiti’s past is long forgotten.”

Thus, a history of unerring U.S. violence and exploitation in Haiti was consigned to the victims. “There’s no doubt,” reported Frei in the aftermath of America’s bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003, “that the desire to bring good, to bring American values to the rest of the world, and especially now to the Middle East…is now increasingly tied up with military power.”

Frei, it seems, is an apologist for American imperialism with form. Pilger continues, outlining the regional context and roundly denouncing the US regime and reminding us that churnalism is alive and well even at the BBC.

…Media propaganda has laid the ground for what may well be Obama’s next war. On December 14, researchers at the University of West England published first findings of a 10-year study of the BBC’s reporting of Venezuela. Of 304 BBC reports, only three mentioned any of the historic reforms of the Chávez government, while the majority denigrated Chávez’s extraordinary democratic record, at one point comparing him to Hitler.

Such distortion and its attendant servitude to Western power are rife across the Anglo-American corporate media. People who struggle for a better life, or for life itself, from Venezuela to Honduras to Haiti, deserve our support.

One Response to What would you do?

  1. mooksool says:

    Interesting piece from The Guardian’s GARY YOUNGE
    regarding the inability to cancel Haiti’s $1bn debt – seen against the ability to find $85bn in one weekend to bail out the toxic AIG.

    “The world cannot yet find $US1 billion in debt relief for Haiti, the poorest country in the western hemisphere, a country that spent more in 2008 servicing its debt than it did on health, education and the environment combined and that has now been flattened. But, over a weekend, a single country could rustle up $US85 billion to keep a single company in business.”


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