Sunday, January 17, 2010

Aid to Haiti, "Demented" AP Reporters, and Compassionate Invasions

Pharyngula has an appeal for disaster relief in Haiti for those of the godless persuasion so please consider donating if you haven't already done so.

On a related note, what is it with the poor quality of reporting from Haiti? When reporters don't regale us with stories of their accommodations, the hardships they've had to endure by sleeping outside by the hotel pool, and their innermost feelings they come up with garbage like this:

An apparently demented elderly woman began preaching on the sideline of the Mass: "Where is our justice? Now the palace of justice has been broken down ... we are all infected by disease. The end is near."

And how exactly did the reporters determine that the woman was "demented", based on what she was saying? Because in that case they clearly forgot to give us their clinical diagnosis of the Rev. Eric Toussaint who was holding a service at the destroyed cathedral:

"I watched the destruction of the cathedral from this window," he said, pointing to a window in what remains of the archdiocese office. "I am not dead because God has a plan for me."

"What happens is a sign from God, saying that we must recognize his power - we need to reinvent ourselves,"

You know, even if you believe in your heart of hearts that you're so much more special than the tens of thousands of your fellow citizens who died a horrible death and that the way your god signals you is by inflicting mass destruction, there are times, like the immediate aftermath of a 7.0 earthquake that leveled your city, when you should just keep your beliefs to yourself.

Of course, both the elderly woman and the Rev. Toussaint have been through an unimaginable ordeal and their actions should be judged through that prism. The same cannot be said about the AP reporters. Referring to a poor person who's just experienced a tremendous trauma and is probably still in shock, not to mention hungry and dehydrated, as "demented" is beyond unprofessional.

One more thing. Has anyone else noticed that we've just dispatched our military to yet another country and, once again, we're making it up as we go along?

I get that the military has unequaled capabilities and I also don't expect them to wave a magic wand and make everything better. But, for all intents and purposes, the window to find survivors in the rubble has closed (I still can't wrap my head around that one. Survive the quake only to slowly die in the rubble because there are no rescuers available. Tragedy on top of tragedy.) and the critical aid one is rapidly dwindling away.

Dig out survivors, control air traffic, clear the port and roads, provide hospital ships and distribute supplies, and assist the population, the local authorities and the U.N. troops with their immediate needs. Beyond that, maybe stop and assess if having our military engage in yet another long-term nation building project is the best use of our troops and, more importantly, is in the best interest of the Haitian people.

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