It was on the May 14 front page on the respected Toronto Globe and Mail, - a big, colour photo of young girls in a classroom. Below it, in large text, was "For Haiti's children, school is a safe haven. In the comfort of the classroom, teachers are learning to help traumatized students heal."
This was a feel-good story. Haiti is changing. Our aid is paying off. I looked back at the girls.
They looked healthy and well cared for in their spanking clean school uniforms, and with the happiest of smiles. Their hair was so well done, it may have been - and probably was - professionally coiffed. They didn't look like girls who lived in slums that had no plumbing or electricity. They didn't look like girls who had only rags to wear. And, with those big smiles, they didn't look like girls who had lost parents and even whole families in an earthquake.
Then I noticed the figure in the background, a woman in a crispy clean gown, a nun. Of course. This was a Catholic private school. These were not Haitian girls. These were rich, rich Haitian girls, the descendants of a tiny elite who had supplied the generals and secret service thugs of brutal dictatorships supported by the US for eighty years. The private schools were theirs alone, and lavishly funded with decades of aid money.
As for them being traumatized by the earthquake, the reporter could find only one child in that school who had lost a relative, a grandmother. Of course. Their houses weren't rickety slum shacks.
The photo were about change in Haiti when, in fact, nothing has changed. The reporter who wrote the story must have known that. If I were to say the editor who ran that photo and story on the front page didn't realize that they gave a false image of life in Haiti, I would be calling him stupid, and I wouldn't want to be so rude.
That story is propaganda. It's lying propaganda. It's unprofessional. It's unethical. The very media entrusted with telling us what's going on in the world hide the truth, and replace it with lies.
Almost all of them do it. Even the most respected ones.