“Birth Of a Nation” indeed! –a letter by Carolyn Scarr

  • From:       Carolyn Scarr
  • Subject:   “Birth Of a Nation” indeed!
  • Date:        Jun 2, 2004 5:53 PM

Below you can find the letter to the editor to the San Francisco
Chronicle which I sent in response to their opinion piece on Haiti which took up a number of pages of their Magazine, last Sunday, May 30.

Since the editors have not phoned me, I think I can be confident that they have decided not to use my letter.  They have also chosen not to use press release I have sent them nor did they send a reporter to Hastings College of the Law where they could have heard from the head of a law school in Haiti who was part of a panel presentation on current circumstances.  In fact they have printed absolutely nothing on the ongoing murder of the democratic supporters of the elected government of Haiti which was overthrown in the coup of February 29.


Dear editor,

“Birth Of a Nation”  –  Adam Hochschild could have found no more appropriate title for his hit piece on Haiti than the title of the 1915 film excoriating American blacks who fought for freedom and celebrating the rise of the KKK in the South during Reconstruction.

Mr. Hochschild's article describes the immense wealth produced in St. Domingue's sugar plantations without mentioning the word slave until halfway through his second page.   The "wealth of St. Domingue [which made] it the battleground for more than a dozen years of almost
unbelievable ferocious warfare" was the product of the slave labor which finally Mr. Hochschild mentions "was far more deadly than slavery in the American South ? [and] one of the hardest ways of life on earth."

Yet astonishingly Mr. Hochschild concludes his article by attributing to Haiti an "almost unparalleled legacy of violence" which  he says "has crippled the land to this day."  Perhaps if he had visited Haiti, as I have, and seen, as I have seen, the iron collars and chains which in 1996 were displayed in the museum in Port-au-Prince, he would know more clearly who was the more violent in Haiti's birth as a nation.  He would
have seen people working hard, building neighborhood schools, planting trees on deforested hillsides.  He would have realized that a country which had to labor more than a hundred [and fifty] years to pay the price of its freedom which France exacted in the "restitution payments" Mr. Hochschild slightingly mentions in his second to the last paragraph, the
value of which "restitution" was ten times the $15 million price for the Louisiana Purchase.

As a long time subscriber, I am dismayed and angered that the Chronicle has chosen to print this, and other pieces of opinion, while firsthand reports of the deathsquad attacks on the real democratic workers in Haiti, which are being supported and in some instances being participated in by our own military, are being ignored in spite of the fact that the necessary information and contact information has been supplied to the Chronicle's foreign desk on a regular basis.

Carolyn Scarr
1340 Ada Street
Berkeley, CA 94702

For our Fair Use of Copyrighted material Notice,
please click on the ©.

Back Button