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January 14, 2010

Haiti Ongoing: Death Is…

Haiti Legs rich poor.jpg

Deputy Publisher Karen Hull writes:   Death is a great and horrible equalizer.


Tweet from @marc_cooper — Absolute BEST way to aid #Haiti relief —> and avoid bureaucracy of Red Cross. Or:

•Text HAITI to 90999 to donate $10 to the American Red Cross/Text HAITI to 25383 to donate $5 to International Rescue Committee/Text HAITI to 45678 to donate $5 to the Salvation Army in Canada/Text CERF to 90999 to donate $5 to The United Nations Foundation/Text DISASTER to 90999 to donate $10 to Compassion International/Architecture for Humanity donation page.

(photo: Julie Jacobson/AP. caption: The legs of an earthquake victim are seen lying in street in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2010. An earthquake measuring more than 7 on the Richter scale hit Haiti on Tuesday, leaving thousands dead and many displaced.)

  • g

    I am uncomfortable with so many images of corpses being aired so casually. Our US media would never air photos of white, American corpses after a domestic disaster. Why is it OK to air images of foreign corpses – and corpses of non-white people?
    Think about it – how many times have you seen a photo of a corpse of an American middle-class white disaster victim? It’s considered indecent, and hurtful to the victim’s family – rightly so. But there don’t seem to be any restraints on showing corpses of non-Americans, and especially when they are people of color. Don’t their families and human dignity deserve the same respect? The photo a couple of posts down shows that poor woman’s face to the world. How would you like to see your family member like that?

  • mon_oeil

    I too find the nonstop display of these images very disconcerting. The visual reserve that was accorded the victims of September 11 and even to some extent the Iraqis. One may even add the recent tsunami in Asia. The 24/7 devastation imagery is shocking. And one wonders for what purpose. One may said the same of this hyper-visuality for most events since the visual explosion catapulted by the digital. Perhaps that Haiti has generally been viewed with such disregard and disdain, it follows that its devastation is viewed with similar disrespect. We clearly see hear that death in Haiti has become a spectacle.

  • mon_oeil

    We clearly see HERE that death in Haiti has become a spectacle.

  • Karen H.

    Interesting point here and g’s above. I also wonder about the nexus between Katrina, where these types of images were abundant, and the rescue situation at that time (i.e., outrage and anger). Perhaps it’s too soon for that context in Haiti.

  • g

    Yes, Katrina was one of the very few times pictures of the bodies of dead Americans have been shown in the news and on TV. The fact that they were allowed to lie in full view in a major American city was certainly newsworthy – but showing them was, in my experience, a media first. The only other recent example I can recall is the photo of the firefighter cradling the dead child at Oklahoma City, but that photo held a very very different emotional context than these photos and the photos of Katrina victims. I really don’t want to believe it’s about race, but somehow I can’t shake the feeling that it might have something to do with it. Don’t forget that New Orleans residents were spoken of as “refugees” – another unprecedented word to use about American citizens in their own country.

  • Marie

    This image has a different feel than simply “poor Haitian victim,” even more so because we don’t see any faces and are forced to focus on other details. The remains of a stylish outfit seem to make this death even more jarring and unexpected. This woman obviously dressed with care that morning, and now she’s ignobly lying neglected in the street.

  • William Bowles

    Inherent racism in the Western media is the answer. Black people are either ‘looting’ or are the ‘victims’. The process dehumanizes, but then that’s what the ideology of racism is all about. As soon as the news broke concerning the (largely) human-made tragedy that is Haiti, it was all too predictable that the major concern of the media would be ’security’.
    Here’s a couple of quotes from Canada Haiti Action Network:
    ‘Thus far…the rescue teams cluster at the high profile and safer walled sites and were literally afraid to enter the barrios. They gravitated to the sites where they had secure compounds and big buildings.
    ‘Meanwhile, the neighbourhoods where the damage appears to be much wider, and anywhere there were loose crowds, they avoided. In the large sites, and in the nice neighbourhoods, and where the press can be found, there would be teams from every country imaginable. Dogs and extraction units with more arriving, yet with 90% or more of them just sitting around.’
    ‘Meanwhile, in the poor neighbourhoods, awash in rubble, there was not a foreigner in sight’

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