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Haiti and Hateful Rhetoric

Haiti and Hateful Rhetoric

Writer and lesbian culture guru Diana Cage explains how you can make a donation to the Haiti earthquake relief via the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization the Rainbow World Fund. But she goes a step further in elucidating how the Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh use tragedy for political and personal gain. She encourages those of us with brains not to tune out the right wing nuts including Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage and Michelle Malkin.

I sent my Haiti donation through an LGBT organization called Rainbow World Fund. They are completely volunteer run and no one is taking a salary from your donation, and I thought you might like to know about it.

I know this sounds sanctimonious but I woke up at 6 a.m. crying about the people in Haiti. I keep thinking about trapped mothers and children and injured people with no help. I can't get these images out of my head. And worse, I don't know how I can help beyond donating and texting and Facebook and Twittering. And me sitting on my broke lesbian ass in Brooklyn, updating my Facebook status to encourage my friends to donate money to Haiti, seems, well, almost embarrassing.

What's more embarrassing than me not knowing how to help is Pat Robertson claiming Haiti brought this disaster on themselves by making a pact with the devil or Rush Limbaugh discouraging people from donating and exploiting a heinous tragedy to make a racist dig at Obama.

Of course there will always be crazy people like Limbaugh and Robertson spewing insanity, and for the record I do think Pat Robertson is mentally ill. Limbaugh, on the other hand, is just mentally challenged. The crime here is not that those two people, among others, can spread hateful rhetoric, but that they have a platform with which to do so. Remember when Pat Robertson claimed that 9/11 was brought on by tolerance of feminists and homosexuals?

It's hard to believe, but people actually listen to this stuff. This sort of dialogue sways public opinion, which eventually affects policy because politicians want to get reelected. And those politicians reelected by crazies keep their constituency happy by denying you rights. So there you have it, I just spelled out the cycle of abuse.

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It's a little too easy for those of us with a brain and a conscience to tune out the Bill O'Reilly, Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, various Evangelicals, Michelle Malkin, columnists and commenters on The National Review, the #tcots on Twitter, and all the other crap. But I strongly encourage you not to tune them out because what they say has a direct effect on your quality of life. It's better to pay attention to the dialogue, no matter how much Xanax you have to take, and respond to it.

There are a lot of things that self-serving racist, sexist, homophobes like Limbaugh conveniently overlook when they discourage people from donating to Haiti. For instance, you'll never hear Limbaugh talk about the ways in which abject poverty in Haiti has been encouraged, if not caused by, U.S. policy. This is how it works: as a way of sustaining agriculture here in the U.S. we subsidize our farming, farmers overproduce crops like rice, we export it to third world countries like Haiti, and effectively ruin their ability to sustain their own agriculture. So instead, Haitians move to overcrowded, urban areas and live in squalor, working in U.S. sweatshops so we can buy cheap underwear at Walmart.

And here is where we come back to the beginning of this column. How do we fix things? How do we create change? I've worked in media for nearly 10 years now and I don't have anything to add beyond the tired clichés about doing something small, being thoughtful in your own life, living in a sustainable way, having compassion, and being kind and thoughtful to people around you. I guess that's why I chose to make my Haiti donation through an LGBT organization. To me, it seemed like one small way I could contribute to the greater dialogue.

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Diana Cage