“I think Haiti is a place that suffers so much from neglect that people only want to hear about it when it’s at its extreme. And that’s what they end up knowing about it.” ~Edwidge Danticat
UPDATE 2/7/10: Anderson Cooper is en route back to Haiti with his team as per cameraman Neil Hallsworth, as of 8:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
UPDATE 2/4/10: Agence France-Presse reports that the death toll has reached 200,000.
I’ve been just as glued to the Haiti coverage as most news junkies have been, and was duly impressed by the incredible work of Anderson Cooper and his CNN team (Ivan Watson, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Gary Tuchman, Neil Hallsworth, Charlie Moore, Vlad Duthiers and Soledad O’Brien), as were many others. The big connection for me between Haiti and the United States was not only the fact that it is damn near impossible not to see images of Katrina in one’s mind when watching this coverage, but also that in times like these, when the American media really steps it up (and it wasn’t just CNN who did so by any means), I am at my absolute proudest of this rebellious, fearless young country. With all of its flaws, we really do have a press like no other. The work that has been done across the board has been amazing.
Having said that, I’ve heard some complaints about how much attention has been given to the victims of the quake (and its 50+ aftershocks, which to my knowledge have not stopped)–despite the fact that it’s left approximately 110,000 dead and 609,000 homeless–because of all the poverty and strife here at home. I hear that. However, again I have to urge people to not only remember that we are a global community, but to also remember the outpouring of love and support we received in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the outpouring of international aid we received in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and that we owe it to ourselves as well as the rest of the world to show the same compassion and respect for other nations and to put it right back into the global community. Do unto others, people. Do unto others. 80% of the Haitian population was below the poverty line before the quake. They need more than they’ve been given. They deserve more than they’ve been given.
It should also be noted that somewhere between 4500 and 5500 Americans are currently missing or dead in Port-au-Prince and the surrounding areas–to put that in perspective, that’s more than those who died on 9/11. It’s more than the death tolls reported for either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)–possibly combined. This is a Haitian tragedy, therefore it is a global tragedy–but it is also an American tragedy in a very big way; make no mistake.
This event has certainly made me understand how people tire of politics. I’ve been addicted to this one story for weeks, which is not good, and I’ve found it very difficult to engage as the pundits continue to lob attacks at one another and the political process reminds us all just how slow it can be. However, it is our political system that allows for the remarkable free press we so enjoy, so with all our bickering and corruption and scandal, perhaps this should make me realize even more why I loved politics in the first place. Perhaps I’m looking at this all wrong.
To help Haiti the fastest, please text HAITI to 20222 to donate $10.00 USD to the Clinton/Bush Haiti Fund. You can also learn how to use your routine online auction shopping to benefit CARE International.
You can see an incredible compilation of all of Anderson Cooper’s reports from Haiti in addition to many from his team at All Things Anderson. Thanks to them for the clip below.
Anderson Cooper for CNN, Port-au-Prince: “May God receive them with open arms.”
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