I was just about to make a donation, then read this article, talk about tribal culture, how much of our money will be whittled away to these gangs of animals, catch the looters by all means but hand them to the authorities and get on helping each other survive, this behaviour belonged in the jungle 150 years ago. The problem is these people are damaging the relief funds for all the innocent people
- Paul Hutton, Abingdon UK, 17/1/2010 13:32
When there's a natural disaster, society inevitably breaks down. Horrific things happen when human beings are starving. And luckily we who aren't in Bongobongoland can sit in our comfy armchairs, grab a mouthful of popcorn and watch the madness, the misery and the despair unfold, all the time passing judgement on people in the most appalling of circumstances. Isn't it fun?
So you can imagine the excited lip-licking and "Oh this is going to be terrible" as Mail readers slowed down to look at the wreckage of this car accident in Haiti:
You mean to say people aren't queueing up in orderly lines for a pat on the head when their homes have been destroyed and they've had no food? How strange. It must be the fact that they aren't Westerners that's doing it, then. No wonder these savages are struggling - after all, it's important to mention voodoo, above all, when discussing Haiti, just to emphasise the point that these people are somehow backward, somehow savage, somehow less deserving of any sympathy, or indeed empathy if it ever existed in the first place. They aren't like us. That message is clear. And vigilantism and violence has taken over - vigilantism which, as you'll remember, was perfectly OK with Mail readers under other circumstances, but which is mysteriously suddenly a bad thing when it's Haitians doing it. I wonder why?
The narratives are clear. Here are the savages, in Bongobongoland, barely civilised at all, believing in voodoo, looting and turning to anarchy - because the white rescuers haven't come to the rescue yet. And there's a graphicness about the way in which these situations of violence are shown that wouldn't be acceptable under other circumstances:
The normal rules of journalism change, when there's a disaster involving non-whites. The bloated bodies can be shown. The bloodstains can happily be sprayed across our screens. The whole eviscerated unpleasantness can be put right in front of us - after all, only 16 Brits were believed to be among the tens of thousands of dead in Haiti. Brown bodies, well they're unpleasant, but they're OK, aren't they? It's not like we're looking at white people suffering, is it?
If we're going to show corpses, fine. Let's show some freshly-cremated corpses caused by drones in Pakistan. Let's see some people ripped to pieces by 'our boys' and their heavy artillery. Let's see some of them blown to bits rather than in a coffin with a union jack on top. If we want news that's red in tooth and claw, then fine, I'm all for it, but let's have it all. Let's not have different rules for different races. Let's show everything, the whole disturbing, dirty, horrible shooting match. Or would that be too much for our readers? Is it only a fun spectator sport when it's happening in Bongobongoland?
I began this article with a quote from a reader brave enough to voice the unspoken racism - and yes it is* - that tarnishes this whole smelly coverage. That a disaster has happened is without question. That people are suffering, and that lawlessness happens under these extreme circumstances, is understandable for anyone other than the sort of total witless cunt who hamfistedly crayons in their hate-filled "all others must suffer" response beneath Daily Mail articles. Is looting as prevalent as the focus on it suggests? Or are other things happening at the same time, communities pulling together, helping those in need, looking after others even though they have little - or is it all the sneery westerner's wet dream of savage blacks turning into anarchy without a firm hand keeping them under control? Is people helping others more or less common than looting? Why don't we see pictures of that instead of the looting, or the violence? Or are we just being shown pictures of what it's expected we want to see?
* As ever, there will be those who say that racism isn't racism, even when it's racism. I don't care for such people. You go telling yourself that. I don't care.
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Hello. I'm a Bristol-based writer and soon-to-be-redundant journalist. You can read more about me and the Enemies site here, or follow me on Twitter. Email me if you like - antonvowl at live dot co dot uk
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