The impoverished nation of Haiti recently suffered a devastating earthquake. The damage and death toll mark this as one of the biggest natural disasters in the last century. In a real show of humanity and brotherhood, the world has come forward, offering prayers and monetary support to Haiti. There are a few, however, who have sunk lower than most of us can imagine, making insensitive and inappropriate comments about Haiti at a time when the country needs and deserves our compassion.
Right-wing conservative leader Pat Robertson remarked that the earthquake was a result of Haiti’s “pact with the devil” and suggested the nation was “cursed.” Rush Limbaugh, a conservative radio and television personality, encouraged his listeners not to donate funds to Haitian relief efforts because it will make President Obama “look good” if funds and supplies were sent to Haiti.
Politics and religious inclinations aside, it is unthinkable that these two individuals, and others, would, in effect, kick the earthquake victims while they are down. Remarks like these go against everything that is humane and just.
Haiti is the world’s oldest Black republic and the second-oldest republic, after the United States, in this hemisphere. It is also the only nation whose independence was gained as part of a successful slave rebellion. The U.S. occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, and many argue that this created an unstable foundation and a financial system that drained the country’s wealth, taking it outside the nation instead of reinvesting it in the local economy.
We keep hearing how poor Haiti is and how crime ridden its streets are. Indeed, it is a poor nation. And there is violence there. But America is partly responsible for the societal issues in Haiti, from the past occupation that left the country on unstable financial ground to our current lack of interest in providing real support to the country.
The victims of the Haiti earthquake need your support. Take action and make a donation today. Your contribution, large or small, will serve as a slap in the face to these insensitive critics who choose to pour salt into the wounds of an already devastated nation. Contact your local Red Cross for information on you may help or visit the organization online at www.redcross.org.
(Judge Greg Mathis is vice president of RainbowPUSH and a national board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.)