Wednesday, January 13, 2010
I tend to poke fun at just about everything.
Having spent a substantial portion of my life working in television news -- where gallows humor isn't just a contact sport, it's a survival mechanism -- I have the ability to turn even the most heartbreaking tragedy into a ghastly and seemingly insensitive joke. Honestly, there's very little that's off-limits as long as it's obvious that what's being said is, in fact, not meant to be taken seriously -- but along those lines, I can't think of anyone who's worked as a journalist for 18 years who doesn't utter the words "yeah, I'm going to hell" at least once a week.
That's probably why last night, when news of the devastating earthquake in Haiti was first breaking, my status bar on Facebook read: "It's a real shame that this massive quake is going to ruin what's typically a really prosperous and carefree existence for the people of Haiti."
This obviously wasn't meant to slam the Haitian people or make light of the incredible tragedy they were being forced to endure; it was more a reference to how bad things have always been in Haiti -- it's the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere -- and how its citizens had already survived so much for so long before the quake hit.
Then this morning I tweeted this: "In keeping with tradition, US Coast Guard rescue ships will head to Haiti then turn themselves around before they reach land and go home." Once again, having lived in Miami and seeing the shockingly unfair way Haitian refugees were treated, particularly compared to their Cuban counterparts, on a day to day basis (Haitians were regularly turned around at sea by the Coast Guard and sent back where they came from while Cubans were generally welcomed with open arms) this was more a shot at U.S. immigration policy than anything else.
Why do I bring all this up? Because what's happening in Haiti right now is extraordinarily serious. Yes, my gallows humor reflex is still fully armed and operational, but according to reports there could very well be hundreds of thousands dead throughout that country, and as I said, it's a place that was already an economic and political hell-on-Earth.
If you're on Twitter right now, you've probably seen a number being circulated that will allow you to make a ten dollar donation to the Red Cross -- added to your cellphone bill -- by texting "Haiti" to 90999, or you can go to the Red Cross homepage here. I felt like I should help get the word out here.
Please, give generously to the relief effort -- because soon Rick Sanchez will be dispatched to cover the quake aftermath from the ground and Wyclef Jean will perform some kind of benefit concert to help the victims. And that will only add to Haiti's suffering.