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#3223: question on immigration: A reply from Jerome


This is definitely the issue that won't go away. It keeps nagging at you in 
the back of your mind until you settle it for yourself.
 I was somewhat puzzled at the intensity of the expressed outrage about 
supposed Haitian "dishonesty" on the subject of whether sponsoring a Haitian 
for a temporary visit was a feasible thing. In fact I believe the poster was 
wondering innocently how to do it, and was warned about the risk of doing so 
by Ms Grey. Ms Albert's reaction reminds me of that common haitian saying : 
"les linges sales se lavent en famille" (translate: dirty linen should not be 
washed in the open ). In order to settle this matter, perhaps we ought to 
start by defining what is honesty. What is honest or dishonest for a culture 
might resonate quite the opposite for another. In addition, doing something 
to someone might be considered dishonest or acceptable depending on whether 
that someone was from the same tribe or not. People in need do certain things 
that are considered acceptable to their group but they would be shunned for 
the same act by another group or by their own group if they were not in need. 
More precisely in the Haitian context, if we go by North American standards, 
particularly anglo saxon or puritan canadian, any lie is a lie and 
condemnable. Ms Albert you well know it is not generally so in our cherished 
Haitian culture or has it been so long that you have forgotten. We lie about 
everything in general. I am talking about the majority of the population now, 
don't take it personal and jump on me. On the benign side of things, when was 
the last time you asked a haitian his age or how much he owns and he told you 
the truth without thinking about it? This reminds me of an experience I had 
today when I stopped to visit a haitian furniture store and asked the where 
they had fairly nice reproductions of antique furniture. obviously haitian 
made. I felt rather proud at seeing them. When I asked the man where they 
made the furniture, he told me "Hhaaaaaahhhhhhh they come from Europe". Even 
some of own brethren do say they are from Europe or even Porto Rico. True or 
Besides, it takes laws and enforcement power to keep people honest and Haiti 
just does not have either. Just look at the political history of the last 
fifty years to this day. When I talk about laws, I am also thinking of laws 
of morality. Ms Albert all that we had has sort of gone by the wayside. All 
our institutions are gone, and people only have the day to day survival to 
worry about. It is in fact so hard to survive from day to day that they can't 
to much worry about much else. Haitians for some time now have been living by 
the law of the jungle. You've got to be "smart and cunning like a fox, strong 
like an elephant and fierce like the tiger in order to survive, and to 
survive, and, being smart often means doing things that in other 
circumstances would be considered dishonest. I do not at all take offence at 
the warning of Ms Grey. She voiced a  realistic opinion. Her advice can be 
taken or rejected depending on one's point of view, but there is nothing 
there to boil one's blood. I took her advice to mean that the poster should 
be careful and that, to my opinion was well justified considering the Haitian 
context. Until we recognize the facts and face the demons of our Haitian 
reality, we will keep stagnating in that same mud. A few of us are lucky 
enough to have gotten out of it and be able to sit in our comfort and write 
about it, and get offended when someone says something that touches that raw 
nerve of national pride in us, but the populace has to live under the 
conditions that make them act and react the way they do. Like our proverb 
says, " Tout bett jinnain mode" (french and creole readers, put an accent 
aigu on the last e) For the non creole speakers that means, "no matter how 
gentle an animal, it will bite you if you corner him tight enough". Instead 
of jumping the gun and getting all offended in our national pride, what about 
pulling all our energies together to do things  that will really give us 
reason to be proud. Frankly, in and about Haiti now, pride is an empty word. 
There is  nothing to be proud of. Don't tell me about our ancestry and how we 
defeated Napoleon's army and all that. That won't feed the peasant's hungry 
kid. That won't even guarantee us good government today and we sorely need 
one. What have you done for me lately cries Haiti. So, to the original 
poster, if you want to help someone, do it after puting all guarantees on 
your side, and don't be too disappointed if you get taken.

         Math Jerome