01.26.10

Shirley To Haitian Relief : No Thanks, I Didn’t Give At The Office

Posted in Basketball, Natural Disasters, We Aren't The World at 8:21 pm by

Former pro hoops journeyman / author Paul Shirley has won considerable acclaim throughout the sports blogosphere for his thoughtful takes on subjects ranging from the plight of NBA 12th men to whether or not Oasis are better than the Beatles (OK, less acclaim for the last one). Today, however, might be the day when much of that goodwill goes straight down the toilet. “I haven’t donated to the Haitian relief effort for the same reason that I don’t give money to homeless men on the street,” argues Shirley. “Very few have said, written, or even intimated the slightest admonishment of Haiti, the country, for putting itself into a position where so many would be killed by an earthquake.”

I don’t mean in any way that the Haitians deserved their collective fate. And I understand that it is difficult to plan for the aftermath of an earthquake. However, it is not outside the realm of imagination to think that the citizens of a country might be able to: A) avoid putting themselves into a situation that might result in such catastrophic loss of life.  And B) provide for their own aid, in the event of such a catastrophe.

Imagine that I’m a caveman. Imagine that I’ve chosen to build my house out of balsa wood, and that I’m building it next to a roaring river because I’ve decided it will make harvesting fish that much easier. Then, imagine that my hut is destroyed by a flood.

Imagining what would happen next is easier than imagining me carrying a caveman’s club. If I were lucky enough to survive the roaring waters that took my hut, my tribesmen would say, “Building next to the river was pretty dumb, wasn’t it?.” Or, if I weren’t so lucky, they’d say, “At least we don”t have to worry about that moron anymore.”

Sure, you think, but those are cavemen. We’re more civilized now, we help each other, even when we make mistakes.

True enough. But what about when people repeat their mistakes? And what about when they do things that obviously act against their own self-interests?

I recoil at the notion that I’m SUPPOSED to do something. I would like to help, but only if I feel that my assistance is deserved and justified. If I perceive that I am being told to feel a certain way, and if I can point to a pattern of mistakes made in similar situations, I lose interest.

Later in his essay, Shirley admits, “children cannot very well control their destinies”. The same could be said for parents born into a cycle of poverty.

17 Responses to “Shirley To Haitian Relief : No Thanks, I Didn’t Give At The Office”

  1. kt says:

    that made me nauseous.

  2. Nick says:

    Ayn Rand just orgasmed in her grave.

  3. Dave says:

    The kneejerk reaction is to want to heckle Shirley and all that, and that’s fine, one piece of reactionary idiocy obviously deserves another. But I would really like to know if Shirley thinks this money “going to Hati” is actually going to the people of Hati literally? Because if that’s the case, he’s thicker than I thought, since everyone who donates is either giving to the Red Cross or buying Wyclef Jean more studio time. Obviously you can’t answer that, but Roth writes for Flip Collective, where’s his 800 word essay on this clusterfuck?. CSTB readership deserve on the ground reporting on this minor event that spun off from the larger story, even if it’s going to be forgotten about in under a week.

  4. Mike says:

    Dear Paul,
    There are obvious reasons that the Haitians didn’t better prepare for this event, they were busy trying to survive day to day just like many people in America. How are you going to “earth quake proof” your house when you can barely put food on a table? So if this happened in the bad part of Detroit, Atlanta, Louisiana, sounds like you wouldn’t cough up a dime either because “they asked for it”
    Please keep your money Paul, there are many others who give for the silly reason of helping their fellow man and not hold each one accountable for their country’s history.

  5. David Roth says:

    I’m going to write it for Flip Collective, Dave, I’m actually working on it now. The Internet news cycle (?) and my conscience demand as much.

    The biggest problem with Paul’s essay, though, isn’t thickness (although there’s some of that) but plain ignorance. I honestly don’t know how he wrote this, or how it got through peer-editing (that’s the big innovation-ish thing with the site) without someone telling him that it was really not a good idea to write this without at least reading a news story or two about what’s actually going on there.

  6. Rog says:

    one piece of reactionary idiocy obviously deserves another

    As I get older and realize that I really do have a list of reasons to hate most people, I realize I’ve gotten less reactionary and more philosophical. In other words, I find more interest in the fact that, as Nixon once mused, there’s a silent majority of people who are probably as deprived of entropy as this knucklehead and that’s a much bigger issue. I thank God that this didn’t happen before the holidays because then I’d have to listen to rant after rant at my in-law’s and as it is I had to listen to a lot of hate-fuckery regarding the proposed health care overhaul. When I hear that truck commercial jingle, “this is our country…”, it reminds me that our society was built upon some pretty harsh assumptions about non-anglo peoples, poverty and work ethic. So, yeah, the bigger problem is that our forefathers probably would’ve endorsed Shirley’s blog and I’m sure that Adam Smith would’ve posted plenty of ROTM comments were he alive today. That’s the bigger problem and the only solution I see is to move to a country that isn’t nearly as hypocritical. I’m eyeing Canada and Antarctica.

  7. Nymani says:

    As an African American woman I am continually surprised by white males with selective memory who refuse to acknowledge true history. Haiti was colonized by France and after winning their independence was exploited by their colonizers paying back a debt they didn’t owe. The privilege many whites enjoy today was built on the backs on African people and poor people all over the world who still suffer from the remnants of slavery and colonization. Places like Haiti were robbed of their natural resources and limped along trying to rebuild. The people of Haiti were also done a true disservice by their government and leaders who were only concerned with personal gain and further contributed to the devastation of the country.

    The hundreds of thousand of people who are victims of this natural disaster deserve our compassion and our help. It’s called humanity, caring for others who are less fortunate. But of course that would totally escape the psyche of a a selfish, uncaring, narcissist who believes that everyone exists to serve them because they are superior.

    Haiti and Haitians will rise again a strong an resilient people and nation. They have suffered great hardship and yet they rise. People like me will make certain we’re part of the solution. Offering our money, time and resources because we understand their is no one man or woman any greater than any other. We are all human and fall short of the Glory of God and he is not a White Man.

  8. bill says:

    well, he’s nearly right, he is a caveman and his spoiled superior ass can burn in hell

  9. Pete Segall says:

    It didn’t strike me as ignorant as much as… hateful: the sort of “I despise you for inflicting your suffering into my life” quasi-libertarianism which seems to have become gospel in these parts. If the piece was ignorant it was of History, unless Shirley somehow believes that Haiti deserves this for enduring half a century of the Duvaliers and the other centuries-plus of misrule they’ve seen. (If this is the case then I’m surprised that Shirley didn’t actually go to Burma and take things from the Burmese after it was cyclone mauled.) I’ve never much been a fan of Shirley’s writing (“I play basketball. I’m a navel-gazer too. But I also play basketball. Basketball has black people in it”) but that seems beside the point. This was risible, poorly-argued, logically-stunted and just impoverished of spirit. I do hope that he sees the mini-shitstorm of scorn this merits.

  10. Donnai in GSO says:

    I just read the article and there are no words to express Shirley’s “dumbassedness” (is that a word?). .

    No wait—– the word IGNORANT comes to mind.

    He should be embarrased and ashamed, but I’ll be he’s catching hell from his friends and family, as he should!!

  11. Tim Midgett says:

    Shirley had me fooled for a while, then he decided to start writing about music and revealed himself.

    He is a better basketball player than he is a writer. And he’s not much of a basketball player.

  12. Grace says:

    Oh, c’mon, it was insensitive and poorly timed, but when would be a good time to say such things? If any one of the above commentators knew anything about the history of Haiti…including how much money the US government–not to mention US-based churches charities, etc, have given to Haiti over the years…God, if you knew the facts, you’d know that what Shirley says is sad, but True. Sorry, don’t hate the Messenger.

  13. Greg says:

    Any rationale response to this moron is giving him more than he deserves. The one thing he has reminded me is that I must keep him and his brethren in my prayers. Enlightenment is elusive even for the most evolved among us.

  14. Michael Stone says:

    People need to learn to take care of themselves, shows some personal initiative and stop putting a begging cup out to Western Civilization. If Haiti wanted to milk of the social system of a 1st world country then they never should of left France. But Haiti will learn nothing and thus gain nothing if we supply aid. These people need to become more industrious.

  15. Nick says:

    actually, Grace, I know plenty about the history of Haiti, and Shirley’s point and your overly simplified and basically vague and offensive point are wrong. Sorry, I’m going to hate the messenger.

  16. JOHN says:

    hey Paul

    The people in HAITI are not equiped with the same tupe of technologies that we have in North America and do not have access to the education that all of us have .Keeping this in mind is it fair enought to cast judegement on the less fortunate and less privlaged in Haiti.Would you not help your own if they needed it or are you going to continue to let your spoiled upbringing rule and dictate how others should help those in dire need.

  17. F.U.Paul says:

    Shudder to think Paul the narcissist’s opinion of the holocaust..

    The rest; shame on you for classifying Paul as a “white male”, he does not speak for any human i know; white black, male, female, otherwise.

    Paul is an ego-centric waste of space that deserves the same fate as his fellow half-blood monkey ancestor, a forgettable memory of the past.

    Lets all go back to praying for those hundreds of thousands of people dying and dead. And the poor children..

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