Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Thanks to Rebecca Solnit for this piece. Reviewing the CNN video link provided as part of the article, it seems that not only were many of the situations exaggerated by the reporter, Karl Penhaul, but that the final scene that supposedly depicts children fighting over boxes is hardly a fight but really a group of kids playing with boxes--throwing some of them back into the heap, with a few laughs. I believe I've seen the same amount of violence at a baseball game the last time someone shot free T-shirts into the stands.

In light of Karl Penhaul's other newsmaking reporting--see Rob Crilly's piece in the Huffington Post, in which a young man is filmed dying by the same CNN reporter's crew, without receiving aid or, at the very least, a final human touch from the crew--this coverage seems like it shows a pattern of disregard for Haitians. They've become a product to sell and broadcast rather than a people in need.

Karen Gentry

Marietta, GA

Feb 1 2010 - 5:15pm

Web Letter

Ivory tower stuff. In the real world, there will be looting, and it can be ugly. Banning the use of the term is silly and misguided. One of the biggest mistakes the city of New Orleans made was not shooting the famous looters of the electronics store and hoisting the bodies from a streetlight for all to see after Katrina. If they had done that right off the bat, the law enforcement task would have been better off. Sorry, folks, that's the hard cold reality of it. And, by the way, why is it necessary to work in a "blame Bush" dig at the buses in NOLA? Have your forgotten the sea of yellow school buses sitting in the water? The mayor and governor dropped the ball during Katrina. The president got the blame.

Bill Hosch

Dallas, TX

Jan 28 2010 - 12:53pm

Web Letter

Why not call a spade a spade? If there ever is a complete breakdown of order, as in Haiti, and a loss of supply, you and I both would be scrounging for any unprotected goods with which to feed our families or barter for food. It's still looting.

(Katrina looters were more secure and therefore did not have to forage. Theirs was more the crime.) Which group are you apologizing for? Isn't your elitist racism showing?

mike flynn

New York , NY

Jan 27 2010 - 2:14pm

Web Letter

This article touched me deeply and reminded me of an experience I had a number of years ago. I am a Catholic priest, and a poor Latina came to confess her sin: she was cold and had no winter coat (we live in Michigan!), so she stole a coat from a second-hand store. She felt so guilty that she sewed up the pocket that was torn and sneaked it back into the store. We've taught our people well that stealing is a sin, but what we've failed to teach them is something Saint Ambrose once said: the extra coat in my closet belongs to my neighbor who has none.

Steven D. Cron

Grand Rapids, MI

Jan 27 2010 - 12:35pm

Web Letter

I agree, there does seem to be an element in the media more interested in ratings than actual news. I'm watching Chris Matthews guttersniping at every one who doesn't come kiss up to him. My visceral feeling right now about about media is: "corporate echo chamber ditto heads supported by bubble brains." Then they wonder why the kids are turning to John Stewart for usable information. I still have the images in my head of some poor SOB shot while carrying a bag of rice and left to die in the street.

james l. pinette

Caribou, ME

Jan 25 2010 - 4:26pm

Web Letter

Thank you for this article. I have hated the use of this word ("looting") in reference to people trying to survive in disasters. The current media is reckless and feckless. It sickens me. After stories that use those loaded words, I end up spending days trying to explain to eighth graders that the people are not looters or criminals but people like us.

Angela Alvarez

Baltimore, MD

Jan 22 2010 - 11:25pm