A strange symmetry of irrationality and meanness in the news about Haiti: Pat Robertson declares that God is punishing the Haitians for their sins; two days latter, Denis Glover, the activist of all Leftist causes observes that the Haiti earthquake is somehow connected to the failure of the climate conference in Copenhagen. It turns out that Gaia is just as mean as God the Father! Why bother to switch, I wonder. I have been telling you, friends, for a long time that climate warmism is a cult.
I have cool thoughts about the human catastrophe in Haiti, almost inhumane thoughts. I suspect the Haitians will end up coping better than many others would have under the same terrible circumstances. The population is so damned poor that it’s trained to do with little. I worry about water mostly because humans can’t make do without it but for a short time.
Parallel reasons lead me to predict that the 2010 earthquake will turn out to be a blessing in disguise for the survivors. Port-au-Prince and the rest of the country were so dismal that it would be impossible to restore them to their former awfulness if you tried. It’s difficult to rebuild massive quantities of housing without accompanying infrastructures, including roads, water pipes, and sewers (which are almost lacking today). I am betting, of course, that there is going to be a serious international effort to “rebuild.”
Another uncharitable thought: I will be curious to see how the population of Haiti stacks up, in energy and in entrepreneurship, with the population of New-Orleans post-Katrina. In case, you wonder, my money is on the Haitians.
Haiti has a perfectly awful history in every way. The Island of Hispaniola on which it sits was discovered by Columbus in 1492 and settled by Spaniards. The local Indian population disappeared from imported disease and ill-treatment. After thirty years, the Spaniards began bringing in African slaves. In he seventeenth century, French pirates used the western end of the island. That part was ceded to France sovereignty around 1690, as a small part of a general settlement of a European war. They turned into into a massive sugar plantation.
Haiti experienced numerous hurricanes and another major earthquake, in 1842. It was part of a very productive French sugar island with 90% of the population composed of short-lived slaves. Slavery was abolished there in 1793 under the inspiration of the French revolution. The former slave political leader the French left in place tried to pull toward independence. That, plus possibly crazy attempts by the French planters to re-establish slavery, led to an invasion by Napoleon’s troops in 1804. (I am skeptical about the claim that they had a plan to re-establish slavery because I can’t figure out how you would go about it, from a practical standpoint.) The French were roundly beaten. Those who were not killed by yellow fever left. Amidst those travails, the descendants of French planters and their black mistresses were killed by the new leaders, expelled or they left. That was the beginning of a tragedy because they were the best-educated people in the country, a potential leading elite Their departure inaugurated a succession of tyrants who did a great job of replacing the French in terms of cruelty and dishonesty both. Slavery is not a good preparation for political enlightenment.
Incredibly, in 1825, the government of Haiti agreed to pay compensation for the property French planters had lost there twenty years earlier. There is little doubt that the said property included the slaves who had chosen freedom and conquered it. More incredibly, Haiti actually paid off the indemnity!
The nearby other French sugar island of Martinique never achieved independence. (It rejected broader autonomy just last week, around 1/10/10, by popular vote.) The income per capita today there is at least ten times that in Haiti. Leftists hate to face such facts. But, in Martinique, slavery was not finally abolished until 1848 that is, long after most northern American states. That’s a fact the French, who are often sanctimonious on race, don’t know, have forgotten, or don’t like to think about.
President Obama made another empty speech about the tragedy not much more than a day after the earthquakes. He will soon claim that he led the world in an exemplary and prompt effort of salvation for stricken Haiti. Too bad faraway Iceland and Belgium got there first, with water, food, and medication. I would no be surprised if Canada also gets the jump on him because of Quebec’s lasting interest in the other French-speaking population in North America.
I wonder how long it will take for the Obama inner circle to do the obvious and grab a cheap but massive public relations victory: Speed up the evacuation of Gitmo to make room for sick and wounder Haitian children and women? Double whammy and great photo opportunities.
A young friend of mine who is knowledgeable about such things tells me that you can donate $5 for Haitian relief instantly by texting “Yele” to 501510. I don’t guarantee it but I did it.
Domestic news: Among other achievements, the Obama administration is profoundly modifying the application of justice: foreign Muslim travelers with explosives on their person are presumed innocent while American bankers are presumed guilty.
Good for you, Google. You have more balls than most governments.