[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#1`274: Creole vs French : Burnham replies to Delatour.. (fwd)

From: thor burnham <thorald_mb@hotmail.com>

    As one of the wall-flowers (perhaps 'wall-weed' would be more appropo) 
on the list, who occassionally posts, i would suggest that the silent 
majority may have formulated their opinion on this issue long ago: Haitian 
should be the priority.
    While an old discussion for many, I think the debate is both healthy and 
necessary. While some have been on the list for years, others are new and 
need to be aware of the issues and arguments on both sides. Debate is good. 
Everything needs to be questioned, including the issues surrounding which 
language should be the language of power.
     And as for Guy Antoine's post, i think it's safe to say that the lack 
of a response was silent agreement. My opinion, mind you.
     To Richard Morse: I met your friend several years back. Wonderful man. 
I was saddened to hear of his passing.
     As for the rash of new drug dealers, and the "hoodlumization" of 
Haitian society, i think placing blame on deported U.S. criminals ignores a 
lot of other factors. Borrowing, mimicry, and overt cultural infusions are 
not, i think, while perhaps a worrisome problem, a surprise to anyone.  
culture and the identities that flow from them are not static. There is, 
however, strong evidence that serious 'crime' pre-dates the arrival of the 
deported Haitian-Americans.

My last month long trip in April '99, after a three year Hiatus
was revealing. I found a much stronger influence of imported Afro-american 
and Afro-Caribbean popular culture. Why? Well, not only is there the 
presence of deported criminals from the U.S., but it is important not to 
underestimate the power of the Diaspora community in the ebb and flow of 
cultural creation. Not only that, but Television, music, and the print media 
(magazines from France, Canada, and the U.S.), but particularly television, 
must be acknowledged as cultural transformers, creators, and transferrers. 
(McLuhan's quote? The medium is the message?) Cultural creation is a 
multi-layered and complex flow. One of the effects will be criminal. Indeed, 
the exportation of criminal organizations is an old phenomenon, is it not?. 
And although it worries me, it isn't a surprise.
As for your description about the pipe guns? That sounds to me like a 
version of the zip guns that have graced large cities in North america for a 
long time. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Delatour may be describing an important shift in Haitian society. Perhaps 
the emergence of a drug elite has signalled both a challenge to the old 
methods of enrichment, as in the various forms of kleptocracy, and 
explempifies the "democratization" (i use the term very loosely) of capital 
accumulation. But it seems to me that the presence of that expensive white 
powder also pre-dates the importation of an American Criminal element. The 
Bennett fiascos come to mind.

One of the fiercest discussions i had with some friends in haiti concerned 
the emergence of the criminal element since the end of the American 
occupation. i think the hardest thing for them to get their head around was 
that crime occurs daily in the 'democracies' outside of Haiti, and that 
Haiti has no particular reason to be immune from it.
After all, the criminal element has been in Haiti for a long time. Up until 
a little while ago, they wore uniforms, or were intimately associated with 
the the state apparatus of power. So, what has changed criminally speaking? 
I would suggest that crime has moved from being solely a function of state 
power and into the hands of more 'ordinary' people.  That's not to say that 
it is without organization or the sanction of various parties involved with 
the state.
In short, the state no longer has a monopoly on the means and methods of 
violence. Thus a 9mm becomes a necessary part of daily living.

Thor Burnham


Get Your Private, Free Email at http://www.hotmail.com