Haiti – Then and Now

In freshman composition, I often devoted part of a class to short essays. The arguments I chose for focus interested me – probably more than my students. One was to write an essay prompted by an axiom or song lyric. Generally it may not have worked in terms of academic writing, but writing is writing. and a few years ago, one student responded to this Proverb:

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28

Often wise, quietly observant, knowing more of human nature than her classmates, (generally less than half her age), her essay chose her native Haiti and Duvalier as subject. Life had taught her much that made those essays interesting; while her command of English, her second language, was not as good as that of her fellow students, her essays reflected both a maturity and a strong moral compass. Knowing that from her previous papers, I was still surprised by her response. She chose to talk about Duvalier and his lust for power and money. That was why she had left Haiti, why her parents had wanted her to leave, why she did not intend to go back. For, as she put it, Duvalier had no walls. This lack made him vulnerable, perhaps, but given his position and power, his lust for more of these, it was his citizens who ended up as victims. Her discussion was enriched my understanding of how those walls protect us from enemies without, but perhaps more from those within – the demons that drive man for money and power.

I thought of her as I watched the Fox documentary and read reviews of Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash. I don’t think I want to read it – I don’t need to know the temptation wealth and power gives and the fallen nature of our leaders. I never intended to vote for her anyway. Still, I am reminded of my student as I see the Clintons opening a complex, playing golf, heavily paid, indeed, clearly over paid. Selling the Lincoln bedroom has now become selling uranium to Russia – all with no sense of how far outside the boundaries they dwell.

But something else bothers me as I watch this narcissistic couple perform: We respect men with self-control, with integrity. We know they are men we can count on. But, there is about someone who is empty a certain vulnerability and we return to that with a certain sympathy. Many of those who would be our leaders have that sense of self, that sureness of any commitment, no matter how minor, they will nurture and protect. But some are also quite different. May we not be taken by that needy, charismatic touch nor by the harsh, strident demagogue who would who sign away America’s birthright, the uranium in them thar hills, for a personal slush fund. What kind of grandmother does that?

8 thoughts on “Haiti – Then and Now”

  1. Bill Clinton, for all his faults and they are legion, seems to have a sense of what will work. He recognized the rebuke of the 1994 election and worked with the GOP Congress. He was reluctant, like vetoing welfare reform, but he finally signed it.

    Hillary does not impress me as a practical politician. She is strident and ideological. It was she who was the bagman for the couple in Arkansas. It was she who wrecked the White House travel office to place her own creatures in it. Her health care reform used secret meetings and was ham handed in its rejection of any provider input.

    She is Bernadine Dohrn without the pretty face and sexual allure.

  2. Haiti has certainly not benefited from the Clinton’s attention.

    VCS Mining according to Schweitzer, had on its board of directors Tony Rodham. Never heard of him? Hillary Clinton’s family name is Hillary Rodham and Tony is her brother. Not only that, but the mining company also lists another board member, former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive. Bellerive co-chaired the “charitable” Interim Haiti Recovery Commission with former US President and Hillary’s husband (at least legally), William Jefferson Clinton.

    Moreover, the terms of the first new gold mining license granted by the Haiti government were made with no Congressional involvement and the state of Haiti got royally cheated. The terms of Rodham’s gold windfall upset members of Haiti’s senate: The government’s royalties under the deal were just 2.5 per cent, half the customary rate. And VCS mining has an option to renew the terms for 25 years.

    Read the rest as Insty says.

  3. What kind of grandmother does that?

    A person completely lacking a moral compass. A person who’s early role model is Saul Alinsky. A person who lies as casually as she breathes. A person whose first calculation is always, How do benefit from this? A person we used to call a sociopath.

  4. There is the much larger issue of why we have allowed these persons without walls to become the dominant players in so much of our public life.

    My personal theory about the seemingly endless parade of crooks and petty tyrants who seem to infest every level of our political, and larger cultural, arenas is that we have become an almost totally vicarious society, detached from so much of what creates, maintains, and supports our civilization that we repeatedly misjudge people and ideas, allowing superficial aspects of charm and “feel-good” sophistry to override what should be a common-sense, realistic evaluations of people and ideas.

    It is a variation of the problem of “men without chests”. We have surrendered far too much of our public discourse to men, and women, who lack any connection to a realistic, sensible apprehension of how successful societies actually develop and function.

    We revere the Founders because they created something marvelous, for all its flaws and missteps, in the development of a society based on the rights and freedoms of the individual person. We revere Lincoln because, in a time of danger to that idea far beyond what we face today, he could conceive of the address at Gettysburg, or his second inaugural address, containing his hope of healing the nation.

    What do we have in the public sphere now? Shills, frontmen, puppets, crooks, and people so venal that no one actually ever believes anything they say, even their supporters.

    The shining city on the hill has become infested with rats, termites, and all manner of lice and fleas.

    We don’t need civil insurrection as much as a thorough fumigation.

  5. We tend not to see the consequences – the discipline natural law taught the farmer and huntsman, the small businessman and the mother – isn’t there, at least not the way it used to be. The competent man – the Natty Bumppos – learned from their skills, learned humility before nature. We don’t have much learning and less humility. (And I’d say that’s for people like me, too – though I’ve had a few times in my life that should have taught me more than I learned, or at least learned for a long time.)

  6. Ok, if you want to start an argument:
    Haiti and The Dominican Republic; compare and contrast.

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