It's natural, if not inevitable, that media coverage of Haiti takes an American perspective. (See: the debate over U.S. missionaries' motives for trying to take Haitian orphans, and whether U.S. journalists are slowing Haiti's recovery.) So what if we take it one step further, and put an American perspective on the disaster itself?
At Change.org, Te-Ping Chen offers a thought exercise. Posing the question, "What if Haiti's earthquake hit the U.S.?" she envisions an alternative history, where America suffers a proportionate degree of damage:
The quake has killed nearly 3% of Haiti, injured another 4%, and displaced over 6% of the population... If the U.S. faced a similar catastrophe, it would be as though the entire state of North Carolina -- some 9 million people -- was wiped out... And in the quake's aftermath, the entire population of Florida would have started roaming up the United States' eastern seaboard, homeless and displaced.
Of course, as David Brooks and other commentators have argued, Haiti's poverty and infrastructure contributed to the scale of the disaster. So what would it look like if, as Chen asks, "Haiti's earthquake hit the U.S.?"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
Benjamin Carlson is a Beijing correspondent for Agence France-Presse. He has written for Rolling Stone, the New Republic, and Esquire.