And Peter Dailey's attacks on my person continue unabated on the Corbett List. I will republish them here, but will not respond to his senseless tirade, other than making FULL DISCLOSURE of a reference he makes to an open letter to President Aristide, which I wrote on May 20, 2000. Peter calls it "a notable exercise in bootlicking". I will republish the integral text of that letter, which I researched and found in the Corbett List archives. You are invited to make your own judgment in this matter.
As I said in my last note, "paternalism is always the first and only refuge of the arrogant-minded." Force them to step out of it, and you will surely see their true visage.
From: "Bob Corbett's Haiti list" <haiti>
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 5:54 PM
Subject: 26293: Dailey re 26258: A Reply (fwd)
From Peter Dailey <phdailey>
Apparently Guy Antoine has chosen to take my comments personally.
At present, the human rights of ordinary Haitians are under an assault as severe as any in recent memory. The complicity of the interim government in this has been repeatedly underscored in reports by frontline human rights organizations. However, unlike the situation for most of the Lavalas years, these abuses spring from a multiplicity of sources, as I'm sure Antoine recognizes, and nothing is served by denying this. As the Swiss historian Jacob Burkhardt famously observed: "The denial of complexity is the beginning of tyranny."
There is no reason why an analysis should not focus on the responsibility of a single actor- the HNP, Department of Justice, Chimeres, MINUSTAH, Aristide, etc- although to imply that this represents the complete picture is morally irresponsible and intellectually dishonest. Nor, since human rights violations are fundamentally assaults against the individual, do such analyses have to be comparative. Were Kevin Pina to have been jailed indefinitely for his minor offense instead of held and released the following day I doubt he would have been vastly interested in knowing how much better or worse he might have fared under Duvalier, or Aristide, or Stenio Vincent, etc.
Which brings me to Antoine's thoroughly tendentious post, which he dedicates appropriately enough to Kevin Pina. In his subsequent Riposte, Guy explains that his subject was the narrow one of government interference with freedom of the press. In doing so he pinpoints one of the few areas where, in comparison to its Lavalas predecessors, the interim government would appear to be paragons of legality and to have ushered in a new golden age, not withstanding Latortue's criticism of Delva and the brief detention of Pina and Restil. However, Haiti remains a place where one's political opinions can still get one killed. Had I realized that Antoine's topic was not freedom of the press but only interference in press freedom by the interim government I obviously would have had no cause to wonder at Antoine's omission of the name of Jacques Roche. I know no more about the Roche case than that the manner of his death strongly suggests that it was a political crime rather than a mere kidnapping for ransom. If, as Antoine states, there have indeed been arrests, and a trial and convictions follow we will perhaps know more. Should this in fact happen, however, it will be one of the few times in a recent Haitian history that has not lacked cases of this nature. I imagine that like most other people confronted by murders like those of Jean Dominique, Abdias Jean, or Brignol Lindor, I will continue to make whatever inferences or draw whatever conclusions it seems to me the evidence justifies. Antoine's argument, like the rest of his post, is short on logic and long on sanctimoniousness.
Antoine says that the point of his leaden sarcasm- striking in a writer notable in past for a ready wit and enlivening sense of humor- is that the French, Canadians, U.S. et al. have betrayed his expectations that "the fruit you put into the bowl were better than those you discarded." It must be wonderful for a writer to have metaphors like that right at his fingertips! However, his Riposte has almost nothing to say about MINUSTAH or Haitian Nationalism and a whole lot about the outrage I've apparently done to his Feelings. I did not call Antoine a scoundrel- this would be taking his comments a great deal more seriously than circumstances warrant. Nor did I question his integrity, although it is clear from the speed with which he set out to exploit Kevin Pina's arrest, and the wide range of parties at which he chose to point the finger that Antoine is obviously not averse to attempting to score cheap political points. Insofar as I am familiar with his writing its principal shortcoming has always been Antoine's outsized and well nourished capacity for self deception, particularly where Aristide and Lavalas are concerned. A celebrated example of this was Antoine's Open Letter to Aristide, published on the Corbett List, a notable exercise in bootlicking that thanked Aristide for finally condemning political violence and stating that if the rumors connecting Aristide to the chimeres had been true, Antoine would have considered Aristide morally unfit to be president. I don't know if you will find this on Windows on Haiti or not.
In reading over my original post, the one thing I do regret is that in comparing Windows on Haiti to the IJDH, HLLN, Fondasyon Trant Septanm, and Haiti Progres I appeared to be equating them. The latter are all organizations whose sole raison d'etre is to promote the political fortunes of a single individual. Windows on Haiti is an online magazine devoted to a variety of topics, whose political section provides a forum for a number of different points of view. I hope it will continue to appear well after most of the current political actors have sunken into well deserved obscurity. Hyppolite Pierre has written to the Corbett List to say that Guy would like to republish my comments and his Riposte on Windows on Haiti. Although I would have thought that an editor's injured sense of amour propre was not a topic of particular general interest I have no objection to his doing so provided that he includes these remarks as well.
No, Peter, it's not my injured sense of amour propre which is in question here, it's the sentiment that pushed you to pen the piece of (?) above. But since you intended to expose me through your recollection, let me facilitate the task for you, ok?
[quote]#3719: A letter to Aristide : Comment from Antoine
• To: Haiti mailing list <haiti>
• Subject: #3719: A letter to Aristide : Comment from Antoine
• From: Robert Corbett
• Date: Sat, 20 May 2000 08:27:55 -0700 (PDT)
• Sender: firstname.lastname@example.org
From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine>
[quote]For a country at peace...
Vote peacefully under the flag of peace...
You who fear defeat
And who choose violence
We are all brothers and sisters.
Haiti is for all Haitians.
We must all work for peace
So that we can all live in peace.
Boulevard 15 Octobre, Tabarre, Haiti[/quote]
Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
I thank you for those words. I know that for one reason or another, many will not give you credit for sending this message. However your words speak to the core of our worries for the future of our country.
In any democratic system, free elections are a sine qua non, meaning that if the people cannot freely elect their political representatives, you simply do not have a democracy. There has been so much external pressure, so much posturing, so many veiled or not so veiled threats, so many politically motivated assassinations, so much pre-electoral violence... that one is FORCED to wonder: what the HELL is going on?
There must be elections in Haiti, but these elections must not be hijacked by any party, nor should they be held by the will of the international community, but by the will of the Haitian people. I would have wanted to see more pre-electoral preparation, more civic education, more polls showing that the population is truly going to participate, and the complete assurance that these elections will be largely (never totally, to be sure) uncontestable. The sad fact is that if the population does not vote in significant proportions OR if we are going to witness another round of recriminations and interminable accusations of electoral fraud, this will not be a step ahead for democracy in Haiti, as is the prevailing sentiment, but rather a huge step backwards (another one, still).
When, oh when, will Haitians decide to move forward as ONE PEOPLE?
Pardon my striking a note of pessimism, when in fact, I ache to be optimistic. May the upcoming elections reduce all my fears to the point of silliness!
Those who commit the violence must not only hate Haiti, but must surely hate themselves for wholesomely participating in the destruction of our Haitian society. This is simply not the Haiti that we knew and cherished. We have a bunch of imbeciles who are so short-sighted they cannot see that the violence they inflict on others will, like a boomerang, be visited upon them in return. Even if they could acquire all the money and power available, they still need to have a livable society. Just what will they do after they have destroyed it, after the societal values and safeguards that are there to protect all citizens have vanished away due to their selfish actions? What will happen? They die.
This is not to say that Haitian society is finished yet, Many, many Haitians living abroad still enjoy renewing their spirits by going back to the countryside, the communities, the small municipalities, the rivers that unlike the Saint Laurent, the Hudson, the Delaware, the Mississipi, etc, are small enough to almost give you a sense of ownership, the beaches, the mango and almond trees and their shadow, the juices from the kachiman, the korosol, and the grenadine, and countless other pleasures. And from what I hear from recent visitors of the Port-à-Piment and Port-Salut areas, even the cleanliness! Not a word that is commonly associated with Haiti these days. Those people were thinking that Haiti is still an ideal place to live, if you skip Port-au-Prince altogether (too bad, it used to be a fairly decent city, too).
Will Haiti return to greater civility or continue its descent to Hell?
Mr. Aristide, if you were in any way responsible for the pre-electoral violence that many have accused your party of waging, I would ask you then to do the honorable thing and not run for President of Haiti, because quite frankly, you would be undeserving of such an honor and privilege. You would not have the moral capacity necessary to provide the leadership our country desperately needs. Make no mistake about that. If on the other hand, all of this violence has been part of the cynical games aimed to prevent, weaken, or destabilize the choice of the people of Haiti, may you triumph over your detractors, large and small, because in the end... the Haitian people must for themselves determine their future and build a path out of violence and misery towards peace, justice and prosperity.
Guy S. Antoine
Look and Imagine!