By Mark LeVine
On Friday, the US’ leading entertainers will once again organise a star-studded telethon in order to raise money for victims of an almost incomprehensible tragedy – the third time they have done so in less than a decade.
The first, in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, understandably avoided any sort of critical political imagery or discourse in favour of uniting the country in support of the victims.
The 2005 telethon in response to the devastation of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina occurred at a tenser political moment, as violence was flaring in Iraq and Americans were beginning to question President Bush’s true motives for invading the country.
The massive incompetence surrounding the government relief effort was already apparent, but apart from rapper Kanye West declaring – to much criticism – that “President Bush doesn’t care about black people,” none of the artists who performed or spoke addressed the glaring structural problems that allowed the hurricane to produce such unprecedented damage.
Four-and-a-half years later, the endemic problems that exacerbated the hurricane’s damage remain largely unaddressed.
But they are far from public view (aside from the poor and working class public of New Orleans, that is) and outside the cheery narrative of rebuilding and recovery symbolised by the success of the New Orleans’ football team, The Saints, who will host the city’s first Conference Championship game in the refurbished Superdome, which during the height of the Katrina disaster housed thousands of flood refugees.
As the carnage of the largest earthquake to hit Haiti in 200 years comes into full view, the biggest stars of Hollywood and the music industry are coming together for a “Hope for Haiti” telethon.
But there can be no hope for Haiti without justice, and no justice without an honest appraisal of the centuries-long history that set the country up for such a devastating political and social collapse in the wake of the earthquake.
Click to continue reading the entire article: A history largely ignored