Posts Tagged ‘Jacques Chirac’

Counterpunch on America’s Long Racist Hatred of Haiti

January 17, 2018

I blogged earlier this week about how Haiti was the first Black republic, where its enslaved people threw off their chains under the Black revolutionary, Toussaint Louverture, and threw out their French colonial overlords at the time of the French Revolution. The country became an inspiration to slaves struggling for their freedom in America and the Caribbean, and created panic among the European masters. They feared that their slaves were in contact with the Haitian revolutionaries, and that the next Black revolt would succeed where the others had been suppressed. And from the late 18th through the early 19th century, there were a series of revolts in the Caribbean by slaves, impatient for their freedom.

Mark Schuller, the Associate Professor of Anthropology and NGO Leadership and Development at Northern Illinois University, and affiliate at the Faculte d’Anthroplogie, l’Universitat d’Etat d’Haiti, wrote a piece discussing Haiti and America’s obsessive hatred of the country. Put simply, it’s because the American plantation masters were terrified of the example the Black republic gave to their slaves, and so they did everything they could to limit discussion of it and ultimately to conquer and dominate it. And not just America, but also France, and the exploitation and class rule imposed by the Americans under neoliberalism after the overthrow of the last Haitian president. He writes

What is behind Trump – and white America’s – obsession with Haiti?

Haiti has been targeted for its decisive role in challenging what Southern planters – including eight U.S. Presidents – called a “peculiar institution.” The Haitian Revolution was the first time slaves were able to permanently end slavery and forge an independent nation. It also was a tipping point in U.S. history, leading to the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, paving the way for U.S. “Manifest Destiny” stretching from sea to shining sea and eventual dominance. Chicago, the country’s third largest city, was founded by a Haitian, Jean Baptiste Point du Sable, who Haitian historian Marc Rosier called an “agent” of the Haitian government to pursue a pro-freedom international policy.

Haiti’s contribution to U.S. “greatness” has long been unacknowledged. The pivotal Haitian Revolution was literally “unthinkable,” as Haitian anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot argued. The demonization of Haiti was so strong, its inspiration to slaves so dangerous, that Congress imposed a gag order in 1824, preventing the word Haiti from being uttered in Congress, a year after the imperialist Monroe Doctrine.

White supremacy was not defeated in the Appatomox Court House in 1865, nor the 13th Amendment that allowed for a back-door legalization of slavery, nor in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court ruling, nor in the 1965 Voting Rights Act following “Bloody Sunday” in Selma, nor in the 2008 election of the first African American President.

Through it all, as Haitian anthropologist Gina Athena Ulysse analyzed, Haiti has served as the “bête noir” in a deliberate smear campaign against the descendants of the people who said no to white supremacy.

These narratives of Haiti continued throughout the initial response to the 2010 earthquake, from the likes of televangelist Pat Robertson and the New York Times’ David Brooks. As New Yorker contributing writer Doreen St. Felix pointed out, this obsession with Haiti has to do with white society’s rejection of black self-determination.

These discourses have definite and powerful material consequences.

France, which in 2001 declared slavery a “crime against humanity,” extorted 150 million francs from Haiti as a condition of recognition of Haitian independence, plunging Haiti into a 120-year debt that consumed up to 80% of Haiti’s tax base. Socialist president Jacques Chirac scoffed at Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s demand for reparations before being the first to call for his resignation in 2004.

Calling Haiti “ungovernable” provided justification for U.S. intervention: The United States invaded Haiti twenty-six times from 1849 to 1915, when U.S. Marines landed and occupied the country for nineteen years. During the U.S. Occupation, the Marines set up the modern army, opened up land for foreign ownership, solidified class and racial inequality, laying the groundwork for the 1957-1971 Duvalier dictatorship.

Incorrectly blaming Haiti for its role in the AIDS epidemic killed the tourist industry, which, along with the deliberate destruction of Haiti’s pig population, sent the economy in a nosedive. Neoliberal capitalist interests seized the opportunity to take advantage of the massive rural exodus to build sweatshops, exploiting people’s misery by offering the lowest wages in the world. With poverty wages, and a crippling foreign debt that according to the IMF’s own recordkeeping went to the paramilitary tonton makout, Port-au-Prince’s shantytowns had no services and no government oversight. These foreign interventions were the main killer in the 2010 earthquake.

He also makes the point that the accusation that indigenous Haitians were ‘looters’, along with other racist claims, meant that the efforts of the Haitian people themselves in combating the disasters that beset their country were ignored. The Interim Haiti Reconstruction Commission was chaired by Bill Clinton, and the humanitarian aid coordinated by the UN. Native Haitians were excluded from these meetings either by foreign soldiers, or by the simple fact that they were in English, while Haiti itself is a bilingual country, speaking French and a French-based creole. The NGOs themselves had a top down, hierarchical structure, excluding people in the refugee camps from their decisions. The result was the break-up of Haitian families, and increasing violence against women.

His article ends:

Calling the world’s beacon of freedom a “shithole” sullies not only Haiti’s ten million residents on the island and three million in the U.S., but is an affront to human freedom and equality.

As award-winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat argued, “today we mourn. Tomorrow we fight.”

See: https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/01/16/what-is-a-shithole-country-and-why-is-trump-so-obsessed-with-haiti/

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Hatewatch on the Links between the American National Alliance and British Neo-Nazis

June 26, 2016

Thomas Mair, the suspect for the murder of the Labour politician Jo Cox, was a long-time members of the extreme Right, who had ordered about $600 worth of books on how to build home-made guns and ammunition from National Vanguard Books, the publishing arm of the National Alliance, the main American neo-Nazi organisation.

Michelle, one of the many great contributors to this blog, sent me this link to an article on Hatewatch, the magazine of the Southern Poverty Law Centre that documents the activities of right-wing extremists: https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2016/06/21/thomas-mair-brexit-and-us-uk-neo-nazi-connection. The Southern Poverty Law Centre has been around for decades. In the 1990s its leader, Maurice Dees, published a book on the threat of the Militias, independent, private armies of right-wing survivalists, bitterly alienated from the federal government, entitled Gathering Storm. The above article by Heidi Beirich, their intelligence director, describes the links to the National Alliance and other American Nazi organisations not just of Thomas Mair, but also Zack Davies, who carried out a brutal attack on a Sikh doctor in Mold in North Wales; Mark Cotterill, a former BNP member, who recruits for the National Alliance in Britain through his Heritage and Destiny website, Andrew Lovie, a former member of UKIP, and BNP stormtrooper, who has posted on the neo-Nazi website, Stormfront, in America. Among merchandising Lovie ordered from the National Alliance was a video game, ‘Ethnic Cleansing’, where the player goes around shooting Blacks and Jews. As grotesque and incredible as this sounds, it is all too plausible. When I was at College thirty years ago, the German Republican Party had got into the news and very hot water because of a computer game they launched, in which the player took the part of a the commandant of a concentration camp and had to prevent Jews, gays and leftists escaping. The article also describes the activities of two Brexit advocates, Andrew Tait and Matthew Tait, and Arthur Kemp. Andrew Tait ran a pro-Brexit website, ‘Vote Leave Take Control’, while Matthew Tait was a former BNP activist, who has spoken several times at conferences by American Renaissance, a racist outfit on the other side of the Pond. Tait also has his own website, Western Spring, in which he posted a pro-Brexit piece arguing that the EU was a Communist organisation to destroy the White race. Kemp’s a racist South African, who was a former officer of the BNP, and was at one time the media director of the National Alliance. Kemp also has a racist website, the New Observer Online, in which he calls immigrants ‘invaders’ and ‘rapefugees’.

Other Nazi assassins elsewhere in Europe also have contacts with American Nazi organisations. These include Anders Breivik, who was a member of Stormfront, Peter Mangs, another National Alliance member, who killed three people in Sweden, and Maxime Brunerie, a French Fascist, who tried to kill the-then president, Jacques Chirac. David Copeland, the infamous Nazi, who killed a number of people in a bombing campaign in London targeting gays, Blacks and Asians, was partly inspired by the Turner Diaries, a work of fiction describing a future extreme-right coup in America, sold by the National Alliance. And then there’s Frank S., a German skinhead, who stabbed Henriette Reker, a mayoral candidate for Cologne. He also was active online. The current Chairman of the National Alliance, Will Williams, is also living on welfare due to psychological problems, and has a history of victimising women. He celebrated the death of Jo Cox, stating that she had placed a target on her back.

Politically, the membership of extreme right-wing organisations in Britain is very low, but they are extremely violent, and as this article shows, several of the most vicious have transatlantic contacts. And there is a real danger that this violence will be spread and encouraged by Brexit. As one of my brother’s foreign friends has found, the amount of racism has increased and become very personal.