Nathan over at Dangerous Harvests, addressing relief efforts in Haiti and how are they are portrayed in the U.S. media, is reminded of Chogyam Trungpa's warning about "idiot compassion," to wit:
Trungpa Rinpoche, among others, have spoken of a kind of faux compassion that we get tricked by, and which actually is mostly about the small self and what we think someone else needs. I've noticed all sorts of narratives in U.S. media outlets, and coming out of the mouths of world leaders, that imply that "they" know what is best for the people and nation of Haiti. In addition, you have hundreds of thousands of people pouring money into organizations that are known for wastefulness and corruption, like the Red Cross, because these organizations have the money and brand-names to get out the word about themselves to millions and millions of potential donors. In addition, you have people supporting the efforts of companies like Coca Cola, who make donations for disaster relief in places like Haiti, knowing full well that they'll probably profit greatly in the near future from both the positive publicity and the sweetheart deals that occur in the chaos of devastated nations.
Given this sad report by Peter Hallward, which includes the perspectives of relief workers on the ground and some recent history, I thought of another, similar kind of delusion: imperial compassion.
Dr. Evan Lyon, of Partners In Health, is one of many people on the ground protesting that the recurring news theme, that all them po' black folks are goin' crazy and creating anarchy, is overblown -- and causing fatal delays:
It also creates a cover story for the emphasis on security over aid, since we got there. The delays have led to some horrifying and unnecessary stories in a land that is suffering the effects of natural and human-made disaster on top of each other.