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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Is exploiting Haiti right now amoral, immoral or simply wrong?

Harold in Haiti

Harold Ford, Jr., who happens to have been a classmate of mine at The University of Pennsylvania, is going to run for the U.S. Senate in my home state of New York. Recently, he has done and said a number of things that have worried me:

1. From his recent (2006) Senate run in his home state of Tennessee, he changed his stance on reproductive rights, same-sex marriages, taxation/social welfare, and home security in order to suit what he perceives to be a more "New York State of Mind." It has been barely one year that Mr. Ford has called New York his home. Is it something in the water? Maybe. I was born here, and from a very young age I believed in a woman's right to choose, a neighbor's right to love and be loved and, owing to the flouride in the Reservoir, I have always had strong teeth.

2. As recently as 2008, he considered running for Governor in his home state of Tennessee - a job indistinguishable from N.Y. Senator?

3. In a brazen and revealing interview with The New York Times this past week, he explained his New York lifestyle:
. frequent pedicures
.daily breakfasts at The Regency Hotel
. the subway as a last resort (car services are most desired)
. a helicopter landing in Staten Island (his only interaction with this borough)

4. On Wednesday night, Mr. Ford appeared with the Reverend Al Sharpton in front of the Haitian Consulate in Manhattan. He led us in prayer. Mr. Ford has never been to Haiti. Mr. Ford knows nobody in Haiti. Mr. Ford is not an ordained minister.

5. Tomorrow (Friday) he flies on a chartered plane to Haiti with Reverend Sharpton.

I cannot fault him for enjoying and spending the money he has made on Wall Street (Bank of America/Merill Lynch). I like it when wealthy people spend their money: more tax dollars; more liquidity; more jobs.

Carpetbagging is not a new phenomena. I actually do not mind it if a better candidate - ideally a "better person" - crosses a border and takes a chance.

What bothers me most, however, is Mr. Ford's use of Haiti as political protein. The cost of flying Harold - documentarians and staff too, I presume - on a private flight to the most suffering place on the planet will, I am certain, exceed the relative value of his shovel work. Fuel, security, personnel, pedicures on board? He must be an amazing shoveler.

One could argue that his presence will prove uplifting? His presence will not uplift these people. They do not know who he is. If anything, cranes, literally, will uplift these brave, long-suffering human beings.

It is my belief that Mr. Ford is using Haiti to make amends for his New York Times interview. Exploiting Haiti at this moment is, in my mind, not only wrong, but possibly amoral if not immoral.

I believe that this man is a consummate opportunist: he changes his mind to suit his location. He not only gives "politics" a bad name, he helps to sustain its contemporary definition, one that is unfortunately associated with greed, self-interest, ineffectiveness, and an utter absence of mettle. Further, he had ten years in Congress to speak about Haiti, learn about Haiti, fly to Haiti, address Haiti's problems and potential. He did not.

Mr. Ford, while in Haiti, please do not break a nail. Better yet, please break many. It will be the first tangible proof I have that you are serious about helping strangers.


Anonymous said...

Really and Gillibrand and Owens didn't do the same thing? Please explain the double standard. Let me answer that for you. It is OK to be the opportunist only when you are a Pelosi bootlicker. Speaking of exploiting:

"What happened in Haiti could happen to anywhere in the Caribbean because all these island nations are in peril because of global warming," Glover said. "When we see what we did at the climate summit in Copenhagen, this is the response, this is what happens, you know what I'm sayin'?"

Genius hollyweird and famous study of plate tectonics, Danny Glover.

EvilJam said...

I blame Bush. And Pat Robertson.