Moving from crimes-as-charity to actual support for Haiti - Over the course of the past decade, Canada's leading officials and most prestigious commentators have learned how to approach Haiti in the spirit of cynical power politics and racist condescension (or worse) while maintaining a posture of national self-flattery.
With attention again riveted on Haiti following the horrific tragedy inflicted by Tuesday's earthquake, this ugly mixture is once again on display. The need for emergency aid is, without question, urgent. But established patterns of “help” for Haiti need to be overcome if the destructive impact of this catastrophe is to be somehow limited.
Scattered self-congratulations can already be heard in Canada's mainstream press (a willing partner, for the most part, in recent Canadian government crimes against Haiti). On Thursday, papers across the country ran editorials on Canadian policy and the relief effort. Under the title “Helping Haiti,” the Calgary Herald editorialized that “Canada's response is not only appropriate, but one to be proud of. … Once again, Canada's humanitarianism and compassion shines brightly.”
The Montreal Gazette concurred: “Canadians have, to their credit, been involved in helping Haiti help itself for years.” For its part, the Globe and Mail yet again cast Haiti as the “basket case of the Western hemisphere,” the editorial headline promising that “Today's rescue is just the beginning.”