Johann Hari: is he actually a cretin or just ignorant?

For over two centuries, Haiti has been effectively controlled from outside. The French enslaved the entire island in the eighteenth century…

Err, no. The island is called Hispaniola and has been divided between the (originally French) Haiti and the Spanish (originally) Santo Domingo, now the Dominican Republic, since 1697.

To continue his sentence:

….and worked much of the population to death, turning it into the sugar and coffee plantation for the world.

Err, no. They went flat out and killed the population, the Taino, then imported black Africans, sold by their tribal enemies, who they then worked to death.

Now, given that he\’s writing about Aristide, umm, how much belief do we have on his more modern history if he can\’t even get the basics right?

Come on, I mean, geography it can\’t be all that tough, given that it\’s what they always send the sports masters off to teach, now can it?

Update: I think I may have been overly harsh given that Hari has responded both politely and pointing out that it was edited down for space reasons without his knowledge.

Bloody annoying when people are reasonable after you\’ve been rude, isn\’t it?

3 thoughts on “Johann Hari: is he actually a cretin or just ignorant?”

  1. If the Indy’s subs actually managed to turn “Hispaniola was divided between evil French bastards and evil Spanish bastards, who collectively murdered the locals and then imported millions of slaves to work to death” into that piece, then Hari should seriously consider not writing for them any more. That’s a serious fucking reputational issue waiting to happen.

    That said, Hari’s piece is Bloody Stupid. Haiti is just about the only Caribbean country that *wasn’t* controlled from outside for the last 200 years – its rulers, although many of them were demented thugs, were fiercely and proudly independent (and popular, despite everything they did – the thing which made Haiti collapse was when the folk memory of The French as bogeymen died out and leaders couldn’t just rely on the spectre of Napoleon to keep everyone on side).

  2. John B: I think the Guardian has managed to off-load its dodgiest subs on the Indy. I still remember with fondness a Mark Steel piece (I hope for his sake it was only on-line) which degenerated into total gibberish in the last couple of sentences. Heaven only knows where it came from and why the sub had given up the will to live.

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