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March 07, 2004

Looking For Trouble

I'm in a snitty mood this evening. This is me today, wearing my grey cutoff shorts, my Trojans football jersey (XXL) my red bandana and my dark Oakley shades biting an Arturo Fuente torpedo with unbrushed teeth. If I would have had a shotglass with Jack to help me hawk up a good brown spit, it would have topped off the day, but there was none of that at my neice's birthday party.

I was all daddied out from Saturday, and all the babies could tell. Nobody could hand them to me because they all started to scream. Good.

But all this is just burying the lede of what's really got me steamed. It's the Black Commentator again and all the Black Commentator wannabees. I'd bet a nickel that Baldilocks has already beat me to calling bullshit on Aristide's whining about being 'kidnapped' but I really have to rant on this matter.

What is up with all this follow the leader crap? I'm upset at myself oftimes for being topical, but can't these people think of anything original? Where oh where was all the outrage about the Haitian condition 4 weeks ago? There can be no doubt that shit is hitting the fan in every crack of the world, not least of all Haiti but not until Bush can be blamed for something do these cockroaches crawl out and party. Can they not pick a country anywhere on the planet and say two things about it without reference to the great white conspiracy + Colin Powell and Condi Rice? Hell no. That would require them to think.

I'm halfway guilty here. I try to think globally but I realize I can't hold that many nations in my head. I'd like to talk about the government in Cote d'Ivoire and why the French sent troops but the Americans did not, when they were calling for us. I tried. I'd like to talk about the economics of slavery in the Sudan and why we shouldn't try to buy them. I want America to be a proper empire, but my attention span isn't very good in Africa, South America or anywhere else. I just kinda focus on Iraq sometimes. But one thing I don't do is start talking out of my ass when something bad happens without any consideration to what has gone before, specifically I'm willing to listen to people in the blogosphere who study those places.

So it's really annoying to me that I have to hear this spew about Aristide being kidnapped. It's a stretch from people who just need to connect unconnected dots in their wack proofs of GW Bush as the ultimate evil.

Anyway this is uncharacteristic of me and I really should find some of that Jack and just mellow the hell out. I'm really not disappointed so much as annoyed. If I keep up this sour attitude against black political commentators, I'll find myself in agreement with people like David Horowitz, a fate worse than death.

Posted by mbowen at March 7, 2004 10:40 PM

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Good call on not commenting on Cote d'Ivoire.

This is a topic I know something about ... of course the former French colony wants America in. They HATE the French, and they have a fantasy about what Americans will be like. However, ten seconds with us in charge, and the fantasy conflicts with reality, they'd hate us, too. The French do a decent job of controlling their third of Africa. (Oh, they loot it without remorse, too, so don't get me wrong. And Rwanda, Burundi and Congo-Kinshasa are former Belgian colonies.)

Better we leave it alone. The French were the only colonial power that had a clue in Africa. The British ruled, the Spanish and Portuguese savagely exploited, but the French did OK.

Posted by: IB Bill at March 8, 2004 12:16 PM

Actually, there are people who talk abotu the situation in Haiti all the time. Maybe there just aren't that many Haitians where you live. I assure you that there are plenny in Brooklyn, and I have heard this stuff for a long time. Especially during the Elian Gonzales scandal. Everyone over in Bklyn was saying, I bet if he were a little black Haitian baby, they would have sent him home without a second thought! But I don't think that's as much a reflectin of blackness/whiteness as it is a reflection of Cuba's ongoing relationship with America and a large, extremely political, well-heeled, well-respected a vocal group of Cuban exiles living in FLA vs a bunch of po-as no-English speaking Haitians over here. The rich folks in haiti sure aren't complaining, and they are just as pale as light-skinned Cubans.

My point?

That I agree with you, I guess, but also that this issue isn't as brand-spanking-new as it seems.

Growing up here in Brooklyn, being called "Haitian" was one of the biggest insults you could toss at someone. That was in the 80s, but still.

Posted by: TLL at March 8, 2004 12:42 PM

I don't get it. If you have no proof that Aristide was not kidnapped, how can you claim that others who say he was are wrong? I'm not saying that he was. My former boss sure says he was, but who knows? And there were a few of us who were talking about this 4 weeks ago, just no one was paying attention.

Posted by: walter at March 8, 2004 01:05 PM

I feel you on that Haitian hate. I used to get my haircut at the Haitian barbershop on Park Place just off Flatbush. I know they talked about it, but what I'm talking about is how did we not know Aristide was a fuckup?

It never raised to the level of a political football or a Sunday morning talkshow thing, and these Black Commentator guys are making it sound like Bush has been plotting his overthrow for months.

Aristide goes complaining to the CBC about being kidnapped and then Randall Robinson yelps like a scalded dog. WTF!

I think if the American public had an opportunity to talk about the foul arc that Aristide's career had taken, we wouldn't have all this backbiting.

Yes Elian G. was a travesty and I remember the analogy well, but I also know that Dominicans do a whole lot better in the states and nobody particularly complains about their immigration, despite some of the crap that goes down in Washington Heights.

Then the Afrofuturists complain about the pig problem, which is for real, but what about the Dominicans? There is a reason that Haiti sucks, lousy government and the sentiment that the same machete revolutions that worked for slaves against the French are going to work today.

One of these days, America is going to take some real responsibilities in the Caribbean. I think it's going to take a black president. So I'm particularly pissed that Powell is taking flack for 'Bush's white male conspiracy'.

Posted by: Cobb at March 8, 2004 01:33 PM

On the kidnapping, I'm taking the word of the BBC reporter that said that there was no coersion. Aristide had no choice but to take the safe passage the Americans offered him. That's not a kidnapping. If we would have let him get capped, then Powell would have been made the bigger goat. The US should have been more proactive, but.. well its Haiti. Nobody much cares.

Posted by: Cobb at March 8, 2004 01:36 PM

I saw Aristide speak at my college in 1998. He seemed like he was a man of the people, and managed to give his speech in french, spanish, and english, without alienating anyone. My dad goes to haiti all the time -- prolly because he likes feeling like a big, rich guy (damn mid life crisis! the whole family is sure he's having an affair) -- and he says Aristide went into parliament or wherever and found that the old school people he was there with just didn't want to reform on the most basic levels. Like, all of the government services -- post office, taxes, what have you -- do all of their business in French. This, despite the fact that hardly anyone speaks French. They speak Creole, which sounds very similar, but also has a bunch of regional dialects that make it impossible to understand. The government is cut off from the lower classes because they refuse to speak to the lower classes. SO anyway, as my dad says--so big big big grain of salt here--Aristide just gave up. he couldn't change the government so he just sat back and let it be. Good motives, no idea how the institutions work. Which makes sense, since he was apparently one of those po-folk that never got access to government as a child.

Posted by: TLL at March 8, 2004 02:06 PM

Where are American investors in this? Maybe I need to trackback to a Haiti blog. It seems to me that if Aristide could have attracted some dollars to his half of the island, things would have changed. My uncle had been doing many exchanges with the Dominicans vis a vis higher ed...

Posted by: Cobb at March 8, 2004 04:29 PM

Aristide could not attract the business dollars because he was Aristide. Foreign business interests were/are following the lead of the elies of Haiti. TLL is right on that those those elites, like most elites, were not interested in true reform. Reform also disturbs the global businessman who sees his interests reflected in those elites and not in some crazy priest from the slums.

Look, i don't think that the White HOuse has been plotting his overthrow Aristide for months, but i do think he was on a list of people they would not be unhappy to see removed from office. He was waaayyy down on that list but on it nonetheless. So it was not suprising to see them not lift a finger until the very last moment. Was he "kidnapped"? I think he was, but mostly to save his life. True, Powell gets flack for removing him but he would certainly have gotten more for letting him be murdered. So they go in at the last possible moment when they don't need to save his gov't, only save his ass.

My problem with the entire Haiti situation is that Haitians, as many other Third World peoples, need to learn that if you elect someone and become unhappy with his leadership, you elect someone else when his term is up. You don't come after him and his supportters with machetes and AK-47s (where did they get all those guns anyway?!). Until they learn that simple lesson of political patiience and compromise, they will continue to wallow in poverty. No amount of foreign aid or UN peacekeepers will fix that problem. We need to be supporting that type of maturity, not standing on the sidelines and shrugging our shoulders. But, like I said, Bush, Condi and Powell, were not really intrested in promoting democracy there.

Posted by: walter at March 8, 2004 11:42 PM