Help for Haiti

January 14, 2010 1:15:12 PM PST
Life goes on, as they say. But that's a hard thing to do when calamity casts such a huge shadow as the darkness coming from Haiti.

We have two reporters there - N.J. Burkett and Marcus Solis.

We are there because this is a catastrophe of unfathomable proportions.

A 7.0 earthquake is bad, but in a country like Haiti, with few if any building codes, poverty like no other country in the Western Hemisphere, and an infrastructure that's virtually non-existent, is close to national annihilation.

The issue of rebuilding Haiti is important - and doing it in a way that ensures this doesn't happen again. It involves more than just throwing money at the corrupt and dirt-poor country; it involves nation building. It is way past time to help Haiti become a democracy in the best sense, where there are jobs and education and a future beyond the shanty homes and under-safety-code concrete structures.

That's the longer-term view. The shorter-term problem is aid. So many countries are sending medical supplies and food that the airport in Port au Prince is shut down - not because the control tower collapsed, but because there are too many supply-loaded planes on the tarmac with nowhere to go.

Millions have been raised in the past day by the Red Cross' cell phone text drive - a $10 donation just by texting. And tomorrow, this television station will help in the effort with hourly cut-ins throughout the day, showing how people in our area are coming to the aid of Haitians.

It is the humanitarian thing to do. And no one should ever apologize for doing the right thing.

Which is why it's troubling to see and hear some people trash the humanitarian efforts. There's one cable network that in prime time treats this devastating earthquake as a headline in its news bulletin segment, and doesn't talk about the human suffering in Haiti.

Then there's Pat Robertson, the evangelist who went on his cable television show yesterday and suggested that the plight of Haiti is a result of a deal made by Haitians with "Satan" in the late 1700s.

And then there's Rush Limbaugh, pooh-poohing the fundraising efforts: "We've already donated to Haiti; it's called the U.S. income tax."

There's one line of thinking that these kinds of statements shouldn't be repeated - for fear of giving them any legitimacy. But the White House knows that these people reach a chunk of the population. And today, the President's spokesman, Robert Gibbs, offered that, "at times of great crisis there are always people who say really stupid things."

We'll have the latest from Haiti, tonight at 11.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Jeff Smith (in for Lee Goldberg) with the AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.