The disaster in the Philippines brought by typhoon Yolanda (their name for Haiyan) exposes the weakness of a civilization built on the principle of profit above people. The system that celebrates the free market — which in reality ain’t so free for the poor folks of the world — is totally inept when our societies have to turn from the business of making money to simply helping humanity. It even exposes the lies that its mouthpieces tell to keep us separated.
Is anyone surprised that it has taken so long to get help to the Philippines? In a world in which people are put before profits it would have mobilized immediately. But when there is no profit involved there is no “political will,” double down on that when people of color are involved.
Unfortunately, like a good street hustler never stops hustling, the lords of capital and its apologists never pass an opportunity to spread racist propaganda. The big business or corporate media never pass at the chance to throw out stereotypes or blame the victim or cast aspersions on “those other people.”
I was taken aback by references to “looters” in a New York Times article entitled, “Typhoon Aid Gridlock Paralyzes Epicenter of Damage in the Philippines.” What made the statement about looting sound absolutely ludicrous was the fact that in the same article the writers mentioned that there was no food and no water.
So, let’s see if I got this right. According to the privileged, smug, silly, self-righteous writers, the people are hungry, but they should not break the sacredness of private property to eat and drink. The disconnect that it takes to write something like that and get it past editors speaks volumes of just how brainwashed some well-off Westerners are (read White folks or bourgeoisie Negroes). The only other alternative is that the Times added the idea that the people were looting on purpose to reinforce racist notions about colored folks even in the Philippines.
I was surprised they didn’t accuse the Philippinos of bad governance. Oops — my bad — they did that too. And I was looking for someone to blame them for having too many children or for living too densely and yep, somebody did. Like a good hustler they never miss an opportunity to target their mark.
So, let me say this on the behalf of the folks of the Philippines struggling in Taclobon and the outlying islands, Keith Bradsher, Rick Gladstone, Austin Ramzy, Gerry Mulany and the editorial staff of the New York Times. Go jump in the lake.
People are suffering. This is the time to act like a human being and not a stooge for racism and its capitalist enablers.
If the “Look, people of color stealing” perspective wasn’t disparaging enough, they added violence baiting with this statement: “The nation has one of the world’s most heavily armed civilian populations, few effective gun-control regulations and a tradition of violence being used in personal disputes.” Incredibly, there was no attribution, no explanation of where this supposed fact came from. Actually, the statement seems applicable to the U.S.
CNN joined in as well. In a telecast in the middle of the week it led its coverage talking about the “potential for violence” in Tacloban and other areas hard hit by the storm. They even got a poor little Philippino girl to cosign the propaganda. She got in front of international cameras and said, “Everyone kept stealing from stores.” They did apply a little balance after the damage was done by interviewing one woman who said people were raiding what was left of the stores in attempt to “feed the community.”
During the same broadcast there was a report of a stampede at a food distribution site because of the desperation. However, CNN host Wolf Blitzer referred to it as a riot. Ironically, even the Brigadier General Paul Kennedy said he saw no evidence of violence. Yet after the interview, General Blitzer stuck to the script saying fortunately the U.S. military is on the ground restoring order. Really!
Disagree? Why are people of color (think Haiti, Katrina) in the midst of disasters always accused of being thieves and violent rather than being desperate and hungry and acting like desperate and hungry human beings act?
Incidentally, the developed world may have added to the Philippines woes due to climate change. Yes, the real fact that the climate is getting warmer as a result of the lifestyle of the developed world means higher sea levels, which means worse storm surges as seen with typhoon Yolanda.
Now that’s a real back story and a factual one. But as long as profit is favored over people the racist propaganda, the New York Times will be a mainstay.
Mel Reeves welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.