One of the advantages and dangers of the cyber age, is that anyone can post their opinion for the world to ingest. One of the things I sometimes struggle with is whether or not to post and/or comment on an article which I find incredibly distasteful. In a way I am giving that person a platform to spread their message further. However there are times when I know I must confront a train of thought based on total ignorance.
“Dear Haitians, First of all, kudos on developing the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Your commitment to human rights, infrastructure, and birth control should be applauded. As we prepare to assist you in this difficult time, a polite request: If it’s possible, could you not re-build your island home in the image of its predecessor? Could you not resort to the creation of flimsy shanty- and shack-towns? And could some of you maybe use a condom once in a while?
Sincerely, The Rest of the World”
This diatribe is from an article by former NBA player and blogger Paul Shirley (read the whole article here). I heard about the controversy and after I read the article for myself, I know that Mr. Shirley is not alone in his beliefs. There are lots of people, White and Black, who agree with him. He is not simply a “cold-blooded bastard” or a “White right-wing racist”. What struck me first and foremost about Mr. Shirley in reading his article, is that he is an ignorant. Not just simply ignorant of history and facts in regards to the Haitian people. Ignorant is fundamentally who and what he is, the essence of his being, the substance of his DNA. His ignorance is born of arrogance and is nurtured by privilege. His type of ignorance is one that manifests itself in rational, intellectual arguments. He equates his ignorance as intelligence… as being clever. According to the Word of God, he is a fool. According to my life experiences… what I have read, heard and seen… he is not the only one.
So how does one respond to a “Paul Shirley”. One fights darkness with light. Educate. Provide information. Share knowledge. And pray for them. They will not always see the errors of their thoughts. In fact their arrogance, like the condom which Mr. Shirley references, prevents the conception of wisdom (read here). But I must respond as futile as it may seem.
“I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption. Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti’s independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.” By Sir Hilary Beckles (read the rest of his article “The hate and the quake”)