Haiti Is Not Norway Because Of Racism
The New York Times reported the Dotard has balked at an immigration deal that would include protections for people from Haiti and some nations in Africa, demanding to know at a White House meeting why he should accept immigrants from “shithole countries” rather than from places like Norway. This has been confirmed by Republican and Democrat Senators who were at the meeting.
Jonathan Katz is a fellow at the Carey Institute of Global Good. He is also the Director of Media and Research of the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University.
Mr. Katz has done yeoman’s work in explaining why Haiti is not Norway. The answer should not be surprising to anyone who knows colonial history in the Americas. Racism.
Haiti: A Brief History
The French colony that became Haiti provided the wealth that fueled the French Empire including 2/3 of the sugar and 3/4 of the coffee that Europe consumed. To understand Haiti, you must first understand the Trans-Atlantic Slave trade, and the systematic theft of African bodies and lives. Slave traders got rich off this system of kidnapping, rape, and murder. This theft built the wealth we have today in Europe and the US.
Haiti was founded in a revolution against this system. European countries and the United States punished them for this by refusing to recognize or trade with them for decades. In fact, Haiti only got recognition by agreeing to pay 150 million gold francs to French landowners in compensation for their own freedom. It took almost the entirety of the 19th century for Haiti to pay it, though they were forced to borrow money to do so, some of which from U.S. banks. In 1914, those banks got President Wilson to send the US Marines to empty the Haitian gold reserve.
The country went bankrupt and broke as a result of this payment which resulted in chaos including a 19-year US military occupation at a time when the US was invading and occupying much of Central America and the Caribbean. The rest of the 20th century resulted in either the systematic theft and oppression of the country, including US support for dictators and coups, the US invasions of Haiti in 1994-95 and 2004, and the use of the IMF and World Bank to impose new loans and destructive trade policies, including the now-famous rice tariff gutting that Bill Clinton apologized for but had been a policy since Reagan. George W. Bush pushed for and paid a quarter of the UN “stabilization mission” that did little but keep Haiti’s presidents from being overthrown and killed 10,000 people by dumping cholera in its rivers. This is why Haiti is poor (though El Salvador and many other countries that Trump would call shitholes have similar histories), and why the U.S. and European countries like the U.S. are rich.
This Is About Racism
The popular question is would you rather live in Norway or Haiti? That’s the wrong question. The question that isn’t being asked is why is Haiti so poor.
It’s not being asked by some people because they want to assume that Haiti naturally poor due to ineptitude and corruption. In other words, Haiti is in a state of disarray because the people running the country and its inhabitants are black. I can do Katz’s words no justice here, so i will end with them:
Racists have needed Haiti to be poor since it was founded. They pushed for its poverty. They have celebrated its poverty. They have tried to profit from its poverty.
They wanted it to be a shithole. And they still do.
If Haiti is a shithole, then they can say that black freedom and sovereignty are bad. They can hold it up as proof that white countries—and what’s whiter than Norway—are better, because white people are better.
They wanted that in 1804, and in 1915, and they want it now.
So if anyone tonight tries to trap you in a contest of “where would you rather live”—or “what about cholera” or “yeah but isn’t poverty bad?”—ask them what they know about how things got that way.
And then ask them why they’re ok with it.