In the midst of catastrophic disaster and chaos in Haiti, caused by a massive 7.0 magnitude earthquake, insulting opinions have been made about the nation’s culture and foolish comments have been publicized about Haitian history and poverty.
David Brooks, Paul Shirley, and Rev. Pat Robertson, along with many others, have supported their crude arguments about Haiti’s culture, citizens, and history with minimal understanding of Haiti’s intense poverty. It’s painfully obvious that these men have falsely interpreted Haiti’s complicated struggle with colonialism, highly corrupt political leaders, and a weak economy.
Brooks, an opinion columnist for the *New York Times*, wrote an insensitive and uninformed opinion piece criticizing Haitian culture and history with unsupported facts.
Most insulting is his placing of blame on Haitian child-rearing practices that “often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10” and the “voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile.” Opinions writer for UN Dispatch, Alanna Shaikh, agrees that Brooks’s comments are “downright slanderous,” and notes, “I can’t find anything to support that claim, and I’d be willing to bet that David Brooks has no more prior knowledge of Haiti than I do.”
Shirley, a former NBA player who’s been cut from every team he’s played for, has now been fired from his writing position on the ESPN website because of his disgusting comments on his blog about Haiti.
Shirley started with, “I do not know if what I’m about to write makes me a monster,” and quickly answers his pondering by asking Haiti in a mock letter to refrain from building “flimsy shanty-and-shack towns,” and “could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?”
The now unemployed NBA failure, who also applauded Haiti for being “the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere," has sparked furious reactions in most who have read his ill-informed claims. Morris O’Kelly, socio-political and entertainment commenter for the Huffington Post, found Shirley’s comment to be exceptionally ludicrous: “Sometimes the boundaries of ‘obscene’ and ‘indecent’ extend beyond the borders of pornography.”
Robertson, host of the Christian broadcasting program “700 Club,” also joined this team of self-righteous and uneducated ignoramuses with his own beliefs of why Haiti has suffered through crippling poverty and this disastrous earthquake. In an interview with a missionary, Robertson stated that to free themselves from French rule, “they got together and swore a pact to the Devil,” and are now “cursed.”
It’s undeniable that Haiti is responsible for some of its own shortcomings. However, Haiti has also been a victim and in some cases, a hero, of overbearing social, political, and natural disasters. Belittling Haitian culture, especially during their current devastating situation is neither helpful nor humane—only tactless and ignorant.