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7416: Re: current situation (post #7408), G. Antoine comments (fwd)
From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
Thank you for your message to the Corbett list. It hits all the right notes
(well, I will try to "challenge" one, but it is truly not a challenge at all, just
a point of clarification).
I was one who evoked some indignation over THE USE of the phrase
"the poorest nation of the Western Hemisphere". I was hardly alone.
So did Joel Dreyfuss, Wesley Madhere, Jean-Marie Florestal, and many
others. My concern was NEVER (not for one second) raised as a denial
of the economic situation in Haiti. I repeat again: NEVER. But, without
revisiting all the arguments here, I was merely objecting to the willful
and harmful stigmatization of Haiti through associations with poverty
(as real as it gets), AIDS, and so forth. I do not flinch when I am ever
called to describe Haiti's reality as I see it. The reality is NOT pretty.
You and your friend describe it pretty well. But should we go along
when people deliberately add salt to the injury? I, for one, will continue
to say NO.
The ABUSE of the phrase "Haiti is the poorest nation of the Western
Hemisphere" often out of any relevant context is morally indefensible.
When we Haitians protested about the barrage of associations of
Haitians with AIDS, I hope to God that none of us was denying the
reality of the ravages that AIDS causes to Haiti. We just refused to
be hit all over again with the psychological baggage that we are
worthless miserable sub-human beings. By usual standards, whatever
free associations, particularly if they are negative, such as POVERTY
(in capitalistic terms) and DANGEROUS (in health terms) are fair game
if used (selectively) to prejudice people against all Haitians. This is not
the denial of a physical reality. This is simply the affirmation of a more
subtle kind of reality, but no less real as the first one.
So when we express our indignation about this second sort of reality,
which is also very damaging to Haiti, please do not mock us. Only mock
those who say that Haiti is a tropical paradise, free of any problems,
where people can stay at the beach all day soaking the sun and drinking
from coconuts. Sir, I am not one of those. And every person on the
Corbett List that I know of, who rallied to my original expression of
indignation at the ABUSE of THE PHRASE in the Western news media,
is not one of those people who do not see the horror of poverty and
misery in Haiti, and worse yet the cynicism (yes, it's much worse than
apathy), I repeat the cynicism of many Haitians who live the lives of fools
at the expense of their own compatriots.
I think that it is important that we assert all of our rights, without playing
one against the other.
Guy S. Antoine
Windows on Haiti