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6233: Fwd: More from 'Hideous Dream' (fwd)
From: radman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>From: bon moun <email@example.com>
From: Hideous Dream by Stan Goff
>Okay. Here's the chapter called:
>So Titid was back for weeks now, and the anticlimax of it bore down on us,
>as scorchingly oppressive and empty as the glare on the midday street.
>There's a trendy phrase making the rounds among intellectuals these days;
>compassion fatigue. We've just grown so tired of caring so much about the
>suffering of little black children in the Mississippi Delta, about the
>barbarism directed at gays and lesbians, about the murders of Salvadoran
>peasants, and the ferocious neo-colonial feuds in Central Africa, that we
>just really don't have the energy to give a fuck any more. Compassion
>fatigue, along with everything else, happened to my team in Haiti, and for
>the same reasons it "happens" to white liberals here. Compassion is a
>luxury of comfort, often paternalistic, frequently a thin veil over
>contempt. Solidarity is a much tougher proposition.
>Liberals find it difficult to accept the elemental humanity of Haitians,
>because to do so is to acknowledge our national culpability, our own daily
>official collaboration in the Haitian (Vietnamese, Salvadoran, Guatemalan,
>Peruvian, Rwandan, Palestinian, Balkan, et al) situation. If they are
>human, and we recognize them as such, then they are entitled to the
>murderous rage seething under the veneer of temporary gratitude. So, they
>were not Dumas, or Etias, or Eaulin, or the school superintendent. They
>were "the Haitians," or more frequently, "the fuckin' Haitians." The
>troops' original "compassion" was something to get pumped up for a fight
>with, something to feel good about oneself, something basically arrogant
>and separated, a role...just like the bourgeois liberals for whom the guys
>declared their everlasting contempt. And so... "it"..."fatigued."
>There was real fatigue, muscular fatigue, to be sure. Physical exhaustion
>was sustained by doing everything the long way, pouring gas from a five
>gallon can by hand, bathing out of a bucket, flushing a toilet with a
>bucket, wringing out ones clothes by hand in a bucket, bouncing endlessly
>over the spine crunching potholes, sweating oneself to sleep at night,
>carrying weapons everywhere, pulling guard every night.
>Psychic fatigue came from the distance to one's loved ones, the lack of
>structure in the days, the growing animosity between the command element
>and the rest of the team, the boredom.
>For me it was responsibility fatigue. Every time someone came to the
>door, I had grown to expect a problem we would have to intervene in,
>delicately and diplomatically, or aggressively with an element of potential
>violence. In either case, it would be something where I was placed firmly
>in the middle. Collaborator in the betrayal of the Haitians. Collaborator
>against the never fully stated mission intent. So I was two half-assed
>collaborators, working in direct opposition to myself.
>I had inoculated the locals as well as I could against the ever more
>compelling reality that the Task Force policies I was beholden to carry out
>were becoming more defined and antagonistic to the desires of the majority
>in our sector. My stock with the commanders, never high, was slipping.
>Control was increasing over the hinterlands from Port-au-Prince, and I
>found myself under tremendous pressure from the team to back off my
>My team was tired, and I drove them through my agenda with the Haitians,
>so I was becoming "too pro-Haitian." When I reminded them how silly this
>sounded, being here in Haiti, they modified the charge. I had become "too
>pro-Lavalas." Certainly this was an indictment that could carry weight
>beyond the team house, that could be used against me in Cap Haitien at the
>AOB, or Gonaives at the FOB, or PAP at Task Force Headquarters. Everyone
>knew about Lavalas. For a force supposedly designed to put the legitimate
>president back in power, we had worked very hard to demonize his
>supporters. Schroer, who thirsted for my humiliation, would have a field
>day with that. More than once, I was sucked into the trap of defending,
>where I found myself lecturing about what we had been through, what we had
>seen, how wrong the propaganda and the intelligence summaries had been. By
>this alone, this open disdain for US Military Intelligence, my authority
>was thoroughly compromised. No amount of empirical data demonstrating the
>consistent inaccuracy of received intelligence would even be acknowledged
>if I were to be confronted by commanders above the level of Fort Liberte.
>The boys knew it. Mike knew it. I knew it.
>And I was crazy. Ever since I'd snapped out the night the lights came on,
>that had become the theme for mutterings of mutiny. It was easy to
>support, if you just put the right twos with the right twos and came up
>with the crazy fours. Just think back ...you remember how violent he got
>at the food riots ...yeah, yeah, and he'll pull a gun in a heartbeat ...and
>this obsession he has with Brunot Innocent ...oh, don't forget the way he
>used to get when we fucked up our grouping on HALO jumps ...and of course,
>there was the Gator incident ...hey, he tells people that the United States
>is fucked up, that the CIA is fucked up, he tells Haitians and reporters
>...he wigged out on me for giving a spoonful of MRE to a fuckin' dog ...oh,
>you shoulda been there when he went after Smith Edouard, man, he was
>They had me by the nuts if they wanted me, and here I was becoming more
>autocratic by the day, the most immediate authority in sight. They were
>following orders only because they weren't sure who I would be traded for,
>and because they still maintained the vestiges of SF clan loyalty that
>said, what happens on the team stays on the team. Haiti had come between
>us, but they still lacked the catalyst for rebellion. I knew it, but
>whatever was happening today concentrated my attention, not the potential
>for this thing and that thing, tomorrow, next week. The future was as far
>away as Mars.
>It was becoming apparent that, between the Task Force chain of command,
>above, and my detachment, below, my position would eventually become
>untenable as an advocate for any group of Haitians. More and more, I was
>losing any optimism I had left about the mission, and I wanted just to go
>home before I was forced into a choice between my career and my orders.
>Frankly, my career was so near complete, that I probably would have made
>some compromises if push came to shove. I had a family, I had worked long
>and hard for that retirement check, and I was not prepared for
>canonization. If I didn't do it, someone else would, right? I didn't
>know, and I didn't want to find out.
>I now had something in common with my men. We all just wanted to get the
>hell out of Haiti.
>So I told them I loved it there. I told them I never wanted to leave. I
>went on and on about how well I could live there on a military retirement,
>how wonderful the climate was, how many chickens I would keep, what I might
>like in my house, how the children would be schooled.
>When they asked me if I thought we would be home by Christmas, I said we
>would be there through Easter. If they said they were tired, I told them
>to take a goddamn vitamin. It was my duty to them not to let them get
>focused on a false departure date instead of the job, and my duty to me to
>reciprocate their bile.
>Ever since the incident with Gator, a door had closed between the boys and
>me. Besides Gator himself, who forgave the incident immediately and
>apologized for being offensive, Ali was the single exception who had
>accepted my apology and behaved as if he did. Mike told me to forget it,
>but it was apparent that my ability to direct their activity was no longer
>based on the confident loyalty I had from them at the beginning of the
>mission. All I had left was my naked tyranny.
>Meanwhile, I confiscated time to disappear almost every day to Fort
>Dauphin, especially around sundown, where I would smoke and drink a
>Presidente and wish I could just turn into a Haitian for a while, so no one
>would interrupt my glorious sunset with a request for food or a crowd of
>stares. My white skin and my uniform had become a beggars' magnet.
>Sometimes, I would be left alone to watch the swallows dive into the dry
>well in a whirlpool of wings and whistles, and the bellies of the clouds
>change from lavender to salmon to red. All these stolen pleasures were
>those of a foreigner, fed and fat in an impoverished land, taken next to a
>people who suffered under this beauty, who hadn't the energy nor the
>options to share these little raptures. I knew that. And I went there
>I seldom stayed at Fort Dauphin after dark if I was alone. I do not
>believe in ghosts, nor am I a superstitious man. But I always felt
>surrounded by malevolence there after dark, like the long diffused battle
>blood and slave blood and murder and misery were being released from the
>ground by darkness. I loved that spot when I was alone at sunset. When
>night closed in, however, I was just a pale lunar face perched in the
>blackness atop a ruined French fortress, the latest in a line of invaders
>whom I wouldn't blame them for slaughtering.
>After much thought, I am convinced that slaughter will provide the only
>avenue for Haitian liberation. The World Bank functionaries, the
>diplomats, the Haitian dealmakers, the fundamentalist missionaries, the
>petty bureaucrats, the families of the post-colonial oligarchy, the
>ubiquitous blancs (and this means white or foreign), the FRAPHists, the
>macoutes, all ought to give daily thanks for the continued domination of
>the Haitian peasant psyche by voudon. It is through this African religion
>that peasant rage is sublimated. The effete critics who put peasantry and
>its culture on a pedestal will have at me for this comment, but I stand by it.
>Every night, near the river, near Sicar, I would listen to the drums
>pulsing until two and three in the morning. Every day, the celebrants
>would step into the sun, sweep the packed earth in front of their
>cailles-pailles, then listlessly trudge the roads and paths in fatigued
>pursuit of the most elementary compulsions ...water, food, wood. Were it
>not for killing white chickens and dancing to utter depletion in the
>darkness, white people and their colonial surrogates might be thrust across
>the altar of Haitian peasant emancipation. The emancipated might dance in
>victory at a river of blood.
>In truth, and I will never say it more clearly in this account, this
>macabre scenario is what I concluded must happen in Haiti sooner or later.
>History leaves Haiti no options. There can be no question of
>reconciliation or reform or reconstruction. These have always been
>invitations into a chamber where the Haitian masses have been sacrificed,
>and they always will be. Violence! And the sooner the better, I mused.
>It is the only answer left to the violence that has subjugated the Haitian
>people since their ancestors were chained into the bottoms of boats to
>cross the Atlantic.
>So there is another little editorial aside. These conclusions were
>conceived in darkness over a warm bottle of Dominican beer above the swish
>and splash of the Atlantic as it rubbed the bottom of the ruined Fort