Thursday, January 14, 2010

Natural law

According to our media, some people, some places are just poor, and some people, some places just aren't. Not for any reason (Pat Robertson devil comments notwithstanding), they just are. The only major exception is when someone or some place is poor and, we're meant to believe, it's their own damn fault. Aside from that, though, it's just natural law.

They never really say this, mind you. But they never actually talk about the reasons for poverty, and why it's located where it is. It's such an ingrained assumption in everything they do that if you removed it everything they've built upon it would fall apart. And it's such a powerful subtextual message that almost everyone (including myself, when I catch myself in unthinking, atavistic moments) believes it without ever having to be told.


Unknown said...

You don't think it's related to a casual, unthinking racism? And that we will think to ask why, but only when the people under discussion are white?

Ethan said...

Oh, I absolutely think that. Didn't mean to imply otherwise. Sorry.

d.mantis said...

My only addition to your first paragraph (see my commentary to the below post over at ladypoverty) would be that 99 out of 100 times it is their own damn fault AND an unthinking racism.

Nevertheless, the history of Haiti is a history of racism. See:

And this:

As a side note: for the a full meal of commentary, there is nothing better then some IOZ, ladypoverty and the 6th or 7th as dessert.

Thanks for this...

Ethan said...

Yes, I'm realizing I should have said more about racism in the original post. In fact my overlooking it, despite the fact that I know damn well that it's a hugely important factor in this, is probably due in large measure to the fact that I'm white. Thanks for the links. Since the earthquake I've seen several different very useful summaries of Haitian history; the Exile articles add some great detail I hadn't seen yet; and I had somehow missed the Chris Floyd article, and Chris Floyd is always welcome.

Thanks for the kind comments about me and this dinky little blog, too--I'm trying to contribute, but I feel like a child compared to people like ladypoverty and IOZ, in more ways than one. Nice to know that people appreciate what you do.