The White Man’s Burden in Haiti
A Haitian court has now officially charged the ten (white, Christian) Americans who tried to take 33 Haitian children to the Dominican Republic last week with child abduction. The group of Christian missionaries from Idaho say they were just trying to help orphans. Of course, the orphans in question all seem to have had parents and the parents were told their children were being taken to a school to be educated. Ah, the twists and turns of the White Man’s Burden.
When Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem, “The White Man’s Burden” in 1899 it was in response to the American colonial invasion of the Phillippines after the Spanish American War.
Take up the White Man’s burden…Send forth the best ye breed…Your new-caught, sullen peoples,Half-devil and half-child…To veil the threat of terror Take up the White Man’s burden- The savage wars of peace–Fill full the mouth of Famine And bid the sickness cease; silent, sullen peoples…Shall weigh your gods and you.
Kipling seems to have truly believed in the White Man’s burden, as do the members of the Idaho group who came to save the children from their “half devil, half child” ways. Of course, the Imperialism of America and England has always been layered with the Imperialism of a militant and nationalist Christian Evangelical movement.
The leaders of the American group, New Life Children’s Refuge, Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter, are members of Central Valley Baptist church in Idaho. Atlhough New Life Children’s Refuge never quite got their website up and running, the Central Valley Baptist church website as well as other Christian websites give some insight into what the hell these white people were doing taking children out Haiti and lying to their parents about the fact that they were going to be adopted to American “Christian” families.
New Life Children’s Refuge is a non‐profit Christian ministry dedicated to rescuing, loving and caring for orphaned, abandoned and impoverished Haitian and Dominican children, demonstrating God’s love and helping each child find healing, hope, joy and new life in Christ. We will strive to also equip each child with a solid education and vocational skills as well as opportunities for adoption into a loving Christian family.
Note that it says “impoverished” children as well as orphaned and abandoned children. Already the plot thickens. Apparently poverty in and of itself is reason to “save” these children by placing them into a “Christian family.”
From the Church website, we learn that it is a Christian obligation to go forth in the world and convert others to their Evangelical beliefs.
It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ.
I’m not sure whether kidnapping is in harmony with the gospel of Christ, but according to the church’s website, a family is clearly defined as the marriage between one man and one woman with children (adoptive or biological) and a wife who willingly submits to her husband as leader, protector, and teacher.
Ah, the white man’s burden, being carried out by white men and women in Haiti. Over a century after the birth of the American Empire, as Kipling warned, the burden of whiteness continues to weigh on us all.