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#4401: Driver adds to Paryski comments on "boat people" (fwd)

From: Tom F. Driver <tfd3@columbia.edu>

Paul Paryski was on target when he wrote the following about that NY Times 
story of refugees at sea:

    It would have been better to have given David a waterproof camera, a 
    waterproof tape recorder and safety  devices and let him tell his story 
    if he could survive.  Finkel could have woven David's story into an 
    article on the whole "boat people" syndrome.   
The main problem is that the author (Finkel) had no intention of doing an 
article about the whole "boat people" syndrome.  He was not writing in order 
to increase the reader's understanding but only a) to pander to the appetite 
for sensationalism and b) make the U.S.A. look good.  Yes, he vividly 
depicted the horrors undergone by the sea-faring refugees, but that much we 
could almost have imagined for ourselves.  What he does NOT do is tell the 
story from the vantage point of the Haitians.  They are not the SUBJECTS of 
the article and are not viewed as SUBJECTS in their own history.  They are 
merely the OBJECTS in his line of vision.

The article is like a movie in which Haitians are the extras.  Poor David is 
barely a featured player.  Even the photographer gets only a very small role.  
The lead player is Finkel himself, who never engages with anyone except 
David, whom he sets up.  By not telling us whether he sent out an alarm with 
his secret gadget, he keeps the focus on himself.  Then everyone gets 
rescued by the Coast Guard, who are depicted as very nice people who 
never speak anything but the truth.  The American flag is waving peacefully 
and bravely in the final shot.  Haitian misery meets U.S. virtue.  Propaganda 
worthy of a  Spielberg!  

Tom F. Driver
Sheffield, MA