December 15, 2012
So… we’re all agreed that Haitians are idiots, basically?
I love it when critics prove the very point they object to, without even realizing it:
The case of Haiti provided the most egregious example. After a successful slave rebellion formally freed the Haitians from their French masters, the French still managed to bully the Haitians into paying them the huge indemnity for “lost property”—that is, freed slaves—in exchange for diplomatic relations.
By 1900, 80 percent of Haiti’s annual budget was consumed by these payments, which did not end until 1947. By then, Haiti had paid France about $21 billion in contemporary US dollars. In explaining Haiti’s social collapse, Diamond ignored 120 years of illegitimate debt payments as well as the long history of US interference in Haitian affairs, including America’s decades-long support of dictatorship under the Duvalier regime.
Diamond’s blindness to imperial power was of a piece with the assumption embedded in his subtitle: Failed societies (a reified abstraction) have somehow chosen to fail. In the wake of the earthquake that devastated Haiti in 2010, the New York Times columnist David Brooks revealed his attachment to the same point of view: Haitians’ attachment to voodoo and other primitive superstitions, Brooks believed, had immeasurably exacerbated their suffering in the wake of the disaster.
So we all agree that Haitians are idiots.
This guy just implies it — by insisting that Haitians are somehow blameless, easily duped victims, with as much human agency as pieces of driftwood, whose sinister pagan belief systems surely have NO impact on their day to day lives — while the very writers he objects to pretty much say it outright.