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#4244: "Worship" of politicians (belated response to Chamberlain) (fwd)

From: Ethan Casey <editor@blueear.com>

Dear Haiti list,

I've belonged to this list for a few weeks now, during which time I've been
having postings to this list automatically filtered into a dedicated folder
and giving my attention to other things.  So Robert Corbett's forwarding to
this list of a message of mine, and the discussion that followed, have just
come to my attention.  Please forgive my belated reply.

First, the history: On June 2 Robert Corbett forwarded to this list a
message with the subject line "Haiti" that I sent to a list of my own called
Blue Ear Links.  Blue Ear Links is devoted to finding and sharing the best
global writing available on the web and, in addition to postings from
individual members and moderator Phil Sheehan, includes regular site-update
messages with clickable URLs from the editors of periodicals such as The New
York Review of Books, Central Europe Review, and Planeta.com: Eco Travels in
Latin America.  I invite anyone to join it, which you could do by sending a
blank email to blueear-links-subscribe@egroups.com

I sent my "Haiti" message to Blue Ear Links with a cc to Robert Corbett's
private address, and he saw fit (which is fine with me) to forward it to
this list (#4012) without comment.  My message included the following
citation of a book review I had asked my father, an Episcopal priest who has
visited Haiti many times since 1979, to write for the online periodical of
which I'm editor (BlueEar.com: Global Writing Worth Reading/
http://www.blueear.com/index1.html ):


The language of the prophet

"That is the language of the prophet, and it returns Aristide to the source
of his real power," writes DAYLE CASEY, reviewing Eyes of the Heart: Seeking
a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization by Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
"It is a matter of seeing, he says, of seeing with the heart as well as the
eyes. It is the language of Amos and Jeremiah and Jesus. It can get one
killed. Can Aristide continue to speak it if he becomes King of Judea once



Greg Chamberlain then wrote to this list (#4023):

"Excuse me, Ethan, if I see the below extract that you posted as a plainly
_dangerous_ attitude for any bunch of human beings to take where state power
is involved.  Worship of politicians in these terms just leads nowhere.
We're all fallible and all tempted to do it, but we just have to resist and
refuse, for the safety of all of us."

What Greg is referring to as "the below extract" is what I've now reproduced
above.  With respect, Greg, it's clear to me that you're responding only to
your reading (your hasty and unjust misreading, that is) of a very brief
quote, and that you haven't read the full book review whose URL I had cited.
Greg is ascribing to my father an attitude of "worship of politicians" that,
as both his son and his editor, I feel confident saying is absolutely not
the case.  For starters, notice (as Greg apparently didn't) the rhetorical
question mark at the end of the quote above.  Second, I recommend in this
instance and as a general principle that anyone commenting on a piece of
writing might do well to read it in its entirety.  For anyone interested in
doing so, the URL is above.

Before being published on the BlueEar.com website, My father's review was
posted to Blue Ear Books, another of our email communities, moderated by
Zaheera Jiwaji.  The purpose of Blue Ear Books is the same as that of Blue
Ear Links, except with books instead of links: to find, review and discuss
the best global writing.  Anyone interested in joining Blue Ear Books can do
so by sending a blank email to blueear-books-subscribe@egroups.com

On our third list, the flagship Blue Ear Forum, there has been spirited
discussion of both Haiti and Cuba:

A special Blue Ear Forum essay by Brendan Howley: The Old Man and the Sea:
Elian Gonzalez, Castro and the Propaganda War (February 2, 2000)

Kathleen Conway and Doug Burn respond to Brendan Howley
(February 3-4, 2000)

Ethan Casey [on Haiti], Virgil Huston [on South Africa] and Brendan Howley
[on Serbia]: Are embargoes effective?
(February 5-8, 2000)

Here's an excerpt from my own embargoes comments (but I recommend reading
them in full ...):


The journalist Amy Wilentz followed up her valuable 1989 book The Rainy
Season: Haiti since Duvalier (in which she wrote, memorably, usefully and
intellectually more or less honestly, of her acquaintance with Jean-Bertrand
Aristide when he was still an obscure slum priest) by making a stab at being
a kind of ideological broker or interpreter of Aristidism to the American

She made a dreadful job of it, in my judgment. At the very late date of
August 1994, less than two months before the quasi-invasion that finally
quasi-restored Aristide to the presidency, she argued (in the August 22/29
[1994] issue of The Nation), that "a US intervention, and subsequent
occupation, is dangerous for Haiti's political progress into the next three
generations, whereas much sooner than that, if the embargo continues and is
strengthened, this regime will inevitably by forced out for economic reasons
by the strangled Haitian business class. ... Let's hope for the
transformation that would come about when this regime is toppled from
within, under pressure from the outside, and not for the cosmetic quick fix
of intervention."

Now, if the embargo as an instrument of US imperial will is chilling,
Wilentz's argument from the left is just as chilling. ...



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Best regards, Ethan Casey

BlueEar.com: Global Writing Worth Reading
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