>PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- "I think we can call this the calm before the storm," announced one Haitian radio broadcaster Friday afternoon as journalists, politicians and ordinary Haitians impatiently awaited the release of the official candidate list for the November 28 presidential election. But the storm hasn't broken--one could speak of scattered showers, perhaps, with a few burning tires in Gonaives, some peaceful protesters in Delmas--but nothing equaling the anticipated social hurricane.
Wyclef Jean is not in the running to be the next president of Haiti, contrary to the apparent desires of many Haitians filling the streets throughout the country over the last few days. The Provisional Electoral Council announced the list of 19 approved presidential candidates, and 15 rejected applications--including that of Jean's--late Friday night.
Richardson Dumel announces the official candidate list for Haiti's November 28 election at the Provisional Electoral Council in Petionville.
While the legal justifications for the decisions have not been released, the hindering factor was likely the question of residency. Candidates are required to have resided in the country for five years ahead of the election, and while Jean's lawyers maintained his paperwork was "tight", until the end, everyone could see that Jean traveled the world and spent much of his time in the U.S.
Thus closes a chapter of excitement both among ordinary Haitians and international media outlets that had overtaken the country since Jean applied to run.
What this means for politics in Haiti, and daily life for Haitians struggling through unemployment and quotidian instability, however, varies depending on the source. In any case the campaign circuit will be less of a spectacle without the highly popular hip-hop star.
Whoever does become president may struggle to garner popular support. Many youths said, both before and after the publication of the candidate list, that they would not vote if Jean was not deemed eligible.
Even after Reuters leaked the news of Jean's rejection on Thursday, many Haitians, as well as many in Jean's camp held out hope, waiting for the official results. At 6 p.m. on Friday, Nostand Justin was waiting outside Hotel Kinam where Wyclef was staying, a block away from the electoral council. "I am waiting for Wyclef because I love him," she said, "I'm going to vote, but not if he's not a candidate."
"Where is the president?! Give us Wyclef!" youth yelled, while waiting for Jean in Les Cayes on Sunday August 15, before he was blocked from participating in Haiti's presidential election.
"It is a sad day for Haiti, and a sad day for the youth," said Fritz Clairvil, one of Jean's aides. "Haiti has lost, once again, an opportunity to have a real change, because Wyclef is not a professional politician, and in Haiti you only have professional politicians who take over the country."
Even though Jean had not officially launched his campaign and had not presented any concrete plan, he was framed as change, and to some a risk worth taking. "He would represent a rupture with the status quo," said a business owner in Les Cayes last week.
Others, however, question the accuracy of his image of change. "We need to get out of the current framework, because it is always responding to a person or a personality and not a program." Said Alex Fils-Aimé, a government deputy for disarmament and political commentator. The interest of many youths in the campaign only to support Jean is testament to this interpretation.
Social stratification is prominent in Haitian society and politics. Some saw Jean as bridging the class divide, because, even though he is a multimillionaire, he spoke to the people--though of course, his brief public appearances and strolls through slums were offset by stays in luxury hotels and rides through the country in his Land Cruiser.
Jean maintains that he will continue representing Haiti and working to improve the country as he had before, wearing the flag as he tours the world--a role for which many detractors think the star is better equipped.
His supporters claim that unrest may still arise. "For the youth, and the university students unable to get a job, the unemployed and the people in tents, this was a coup," Said Jenson Desrosiers, one of Jean's aides, "because they know that if they had passed this stage they wouldn't be able to stop us ... and we're not going to let it slide." Desrosiers says they are waiting for people to cool down to avoid violence, but are planning protests to undermine the elections, and eventually the next president.
The most serious remaining contenders come from the established political elite. Mirlande Manigat is a university professor and former first lady who nearly won a 2006 senate seat before dropping out ahead of the run-off.* Jude Celestin, representing the ruling Unité party is the current national director of the office overseeing infrastructure, but has never been a public political figure. Jaques-Edouard Alexis is a two time prime minister under current president René Preval, but was dismissed from his post amidst food riots in 2008. Yves Cristallin is the national director of social affairs; Leslie Voltaire is the current special envoy for Haiti to the United Nations; and Yvon Neptune is a former senator and prime minister under former president Aristide.
Michelle Martelly, a Kompa music star known for stripping during his performances, is the only remaining pop-culture icon, and most see his candidacy as a joke.
Politics in Haiti has therefore returned to, well, politics, something many ordinary Haitians have grown weary of--with the political elite debating, seemingly to no end, while the masses struggle.
With or without Jean as a political contender, Fils Aimé asserted, "we need a total change in focus and values and energy." Whether Haiti's politicians will rise to the challenge remains to be seen. But the remaining contenders--each with his own history of implication in Haiti's messy politics--will have to work doubly to convince the people that they can change the status quo and improve the lot of everyday Haitians.
Allyn Gaestel is a freelance journalist based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, who writes on international politics, social issues, and human rights. She is a former United Nations correspondent and National Press Foundation Fellow.
The Islamic State is no mere collection of psychopaths. It is a religious group with carefully considered beliefs, among them that it is a key agent of the coming apocalypse. Here’s what that means for its strategy—and for how to stop it.
What is the Islamic State?
Where did it come from, and what are its intentions? The simplicity of these questions can be deceiving, and few Western leaders seem to know the answers. In December, The New York Times published confidential comments by Major General Michael K. Nagata, the Special Operations commander for the United States in the Middle East, admitting that he had hardly begun figuring out the Islamic State’s appeal. “We have not defeated the idea,” he said. “We do not even understand the idea.” In the past year, President Obama has referred to the Islamic State, variously, as “not Islamic” and as al-Qaeda’s “jayvee team,” statements that reflected confusion about the group, and may have contributed to significant strategic errors.
Without the financial support that many white families can provide, minority young people have to continually make sacrifices that set them back.
The year after my father died, I graduated from grad school, got a new job, and looked forward to saving for a down payment on my first home, a dream I had always had, but found lofty. I pulled up a blank spreadsheet and made a line item called “House Fund.”
That same week I got a call from my mom—she was struggling to pay off my dad’s funeral expenses. I looked at my “House Fund” and sighed. Then I deleted it and typed the words “Funeral Fund” instead.
My father’s passing was unexpected. And so was the financial burden that came with it.
For many Millennials of color, these sorts of trade-offs aren’t an anomaly. During key times in their lives when they should be building assets, they’re spending money on basic necessities and often helping out family. Their financial future is a rocky one, and much of it comes down to how much—or how little—assistance they receive.
Maya Arulpragasam is a famous rapper, singer, designer, producer, and refugee. When she was 9, her mother and siblings fled violence in Sri Lanka and came to London, and the experience was formative for her art. As she explained to The Guardian in 2005 after the release of her debut Arular, “I was a refugee because of war and now I have a voice in a time when war is the most invested thing on the planet. What I thought I should do with this record is make every refugee kid that came over after me have something to feel good about. Take everybody’s bad bits and say, ‘Actually, they’re good bits. Now whatcha gonna do?’”
That goal—to glorify people and practices that the developed world marginalizes—has been a constant in her career. Her new music video tackles it in a particularly literal and urgent way, not only by showing solidarity with refugees at a moment when they’re extremely controversial in the West, but also by posing a simple question to listeners: Whose lives do you value?
In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health.
Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub campuses clean of words, ideas, and subjects that might cause discomfort or give offense. Last December, Jeannie Suk wrote in an online article for The New Yorker about law students asking her fellow professors at Harvard not to teach rape law—or, in one case, even use the word violate (as in “that violates the law”) lest it cause students distress. In February, Laura Kipnis, a professor at Northwestern University, wrote an essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education describing a new campus politics of sexual paranoia—and was then subjected to a long investigation after students who were offended by the article and by a tweet she’d sent filed Title IX complaints against her. In June, a professor protecting himself with a pseudonym wrote an essay for Vox describing how gingerly he now has to teach. “I’m a Liberal Professor, and My Liberal Students Terrify Me,” the headline said. A number of popular comedians, including Chris Rock, have stopped performing on college campuses (see Caitlin Flanagan’s article in this month’s issue). Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Maher have publicly condemned the oversensitivity of college students, saying too many of them can’t take a joke.
Jeb Bush, John Kasich, and other presidential contenders appease Donald Trump at their own peril.
Give Donald Trump this: He has taught Americans something about the candidates he’s running against. He has exposed many of them as political cowards.
In August, after Trump called undocumented Mexican immigrants “rapists” and vowed to build a wall along America’s southern border, Jeb Bush traveled to South Texas to respond. Bush’s wife is Mexican American; he has said he’s “immersed in the immigrant experience”; he has even claimed to be Hispanic himself. Yet he didn’t call Trump’s proposals immoral or bigoted, since that might offend Trump’s nativist base. Instead, Bush declared: “Mr. Trump’s plans are not grounded in conservative principles. His proposal is unrealistic. It would cost hundreds of billions of dollars.” In other words, demonizing and rounding up undocumented Mexican immigrants is fine, so long as it’s done cheap.
Why are so many kids with bright prospects killing themselves in Palo Alto?
The air shrieks, and life stops. First, from far away, comes a high whine like angry insects swarming, and then a trampling, like a herd moving through. The kids on their bikes who pass by the Caltrain crossing are eager to get home from school, but they know the drill. Brake. Wait for the train to pass. Five cars, double-decker, tearing past at 50 miles an hour. Too fast to see the faces of the Silicon Valley commuters on board, only a long silver thing with black teeth. A Caltrain coming into a station slows, invites you in. But a Caltrain at a crossing registers more like an ambulance, warning you fiercely out of its way.
The kids wait until the passing train forces a gust you can feel on your skin. The alarms ring and the red lights flash for a few seconds more, just in case. Then the gate lifts up, signaling that it’s safe to cross. All at once life revives: a rush of bikes, skateboards, helmets, backpacks, basketball shorts, boisterous conversation. “Ew, how old is that gum?” “The quiz is next week, dipshit.” On the road, a minivan makes a left a little too fast—nothing ominous, just a mom late for pickup. The air is again still, like it usually is in spring in Palo Alto. A woodpecker does its work nearby. A bee goes in search of jasmine, stinging no one.
To solve climate change, we need to reimagine our entire relationship to the nonhuman world.
Humans were once a fairly average species of large mammals, living off the land with little effect on it. But in recent millennia, our relationship with the natural world has changed as dramatically as our perception of it.
There are now more than 7 billion people on this planet, drinking its water, eating its plants and animals, and mining its raw materials to build and power our tools. These everyday activities might seem trivial from the perspective of any one individual, but aggregated together they promise to leave lasting imprints on the Earth. Human power is now geological in scope—and if we are to avoid making a mess of this, our only home, our politics must catch up.
Making this shift will require a radical change in how we think about our relationship to the natural world. That may sound like cause for despair. After all, many people refuse to admit that environmental crises like climate change exist at all. But as Jedediah Purdy reminds us in his dazzling new book, After Nature, our relationship with the nonhuman world has proved flexible over time. People have imagined nature in a great many ways across history.
The generation has been called lazy, entitled, and narcissistic. Their bosses beg to differ.
Yes, many Millennials are still crashing on their parent’s couches. And there’s data to support the claim that they generally want more perks but less face time, and that they hope to rise quickly but don’t stick around for very long. Millennials have also been pretty vocal about their desire to have more flexible jobs and more leave time.
But does all of this mean that all Millennials are actually worse workers?
Laura Olin, a digital campaigner who ran social-media strategy for President Obama’s 2012 campaign, says that’s not been her experience. “You always hear about Millennials supposedly being entitled and needing coddling, but the ones I’ve encountered have been incredibly hard-working and recognize that they need to pay their dues.”
Places like St. Louis and New York City were once similarly prosperous. Then, 30 years ago, the United States turned its back on the policies that had been encouraging parity.
Despite all the attention focused these days on the fortunes of the “1 percent,” debates over inequality still tend to ignore one of its most politically destabilizing and economically destructive forms. This is the growing, and historically unprecedented, economic divide that has emerged in recent decades among the different regions of the United States.
Until the early 1980s, a long-running feature of American history was the gradual convergence of income across regions. The trend goes back to at least the 1840s, but grew particularly strong during the middle decades of the 20th century. This was, in part, a result of the South catching up with the North in its economic development. As late as 1940, per-capita income in Mississippi, for example, was still less than one-quarter that of Connecticut. Over the next 40 years, Mississippians saw their incomes rise much faster than did residents of Connecticut, until by 1980 the gap in income had shrunk to 58 percent.
What I learned from attending a town-hall meeting and listening to students’ concerns
Sometimes it takes a group of young people to set you straight.
For months now, I’ve been reading about college students who’ve been seeking “safe spaces.” They’ve often been met by derision—even the highest ranked Urban Dictionary definition is mired in sarcasm, describing them as having “pillows” and “soothing music” that “allows them to recover from the trauma... of exposure to ideas that conflict with their leftist professors.”
I also had some mid-life skepticism about teenage hyperbole, that is, until I attended a town hall meeting at Duke University (my alma mater) earlier this month. The “community conversation,” as it was called, had been hastily convened to discuss the rash of racist and homophobic incidents on campus. Listening to those students—and watching their expressions—I realized that what’s been happening at Duke is serious, and no amount of sarcasm can disguise the pain and anger on campus, or cover up the real dangers lurking there.