Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Where Eyes Cannot See, Hearts Cannot Feel

Four days after the earthquake, a Haitian woman woke up on the operating table to find her leg had been amputated. she looked up at the doctor and said, "I have no way to pay for this."

We have underestimated these people. Now, at least, I hope we can see.

Haiti is African-American - it is a true slice of Africa in the heart of the Americas. Call it "Africa-West," if you will, for that is what it is - not just in the way the women carry the bundles on their heads, a charming picture right out of Ghana or Mozambique - but that it mirrors the true dysfunctionality of the African nations, and in a lot of ways, their quaint and curious self-assurance.

Haiti was born a slave colony in 1691. After 100 years of French rule, the slaves revolted, and defeated Napoleon's army. In 1804, the victors established the independent state of Haiti. the only nation on Earth founded by slaves, it would take another 58 years before the US formally recognized Haiti in 1862.

Today we look at Haiti's devastated capital, Port-au-Prince, and are filled with incredible doubt: "Rebuild that?"

We can. We rebuilt Atlanta and Richmond after the Civil War. It was the US, with its Marshall Plan, that helped to rebuild the great cities of Europe after World War II - London and Berlin, Warsaw and Cologne. We rebuilt Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Haiti's Leogene and Port-au-Prince can be rebuilt; they must be rebuilt. We should have done it long ago, except we could not see.

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