The Tragedy in Haiti

The news coming out of Haiti is horrible. The images are heart-breaking. The damages are catastrophic. The suffering seems limitless.

The early reports from Port-au-Prince assert that most of that capital city lies in rubble. A shaky YouTube video shot just before dusk on Tuesday from a hill overlooking the city shows nothing but haze, evidently a cloud of dust rising from the floor of that teeming city in a valley. The 7.0 earthquake that struck the long-suffering people of this poorest of poor countries 600 miles off our coast has captured our nation’s attention. In the typical American manner, the United States stands ready to go in and attempt to stanch the suffering.
Our president was to speak about the US response in a televised address to the nation late Wednesday night. He has asked for prayers for the people of Haiti, those who died and those who somehow survived. For now, the American public, with its legendary largesse and good will, is prepared to step up and be counted.

Within hours of the disaster, we heard any number of suggestions about ways to help. Well-intentioned individuals from all over are organizing fund drives – from a book sale in Brockton to a savings account set-up at a Hyde Park bank to a send-a-text phone line that will debit $10 to a texter’s phone bill.

In these early hours, before any assessment of the losses can be accurately given, it is prudent to be very deliberate. Certainly a donation to the American Red Cross will be helpful, and there may be other charities, such as the Haitian Multi-Service Center operated by Catholic Charities on Columbia Road, that can provide relief services right away.

But the damages appear to be overwhelming, and the generous instinct to find a way to help might easily be misdirected. Right now, the need is for search and recovery activities, and delivery of emergency medicine to survivors.

As for what is the best any of us can do, the answer is uncomplicated: Do what you do best: Console Haitian neighbors as they struggle with the fears of losing their relatives; engage in support groups at your church or community group; make a donation to the American Red Cross, and plan to give again when more is known and the needs are assessed.
For our part, the Reporter newspapers will attempt to gather the information needed to keep you informed of the situation in Haiti, and offer suggestions of ways to be helpful. Our website, bostonhaitian.com, is up and running with continual streaming information about what has happened, and what can be done to give assistance.

We will heed President Obama’s advice, and say our prayers for the Haitian people in this time of great tragedy.

– Ed Forry


Martha Coakley for U.S. Senate

On Monday night, I attended this season’s final political debate at UMass-Boston and listened carefully to the three contenders for the U.S. Senate seat. Each candidate had strong moments, and to these ears, there was not a clear-cut “winner.” Late in the proceedings, third party candidate Joseph Kennedy was asked which of the two other candidates he would vote for if he were not voting for himself. At first, he said he identified more with Republican Scott Brown – but then quickly savaged him in such a manner that the boyish-looking state senator could only respond with a weak smile.

Most of us in that beautiful UMass student center came with a preference for one or another candidate, and we all had reason to feel cheered by our candidate’s performance. Yet, I wondered if the audience watching on TV or listening on radio was able to make out some of the nuanced body language from the debaters?

Did Brown's aggressiveness come across as arrogance? Each time Martha Coakley made a point, Brown waved a hand in the direction of the moderator, signaling he wanted another turn to attack his rival. Also, Senator Brown repeatedly mocked what he termed “lawyering up”– a rather strange epithet coming from someone who himself makes his living as a lawyer!

It is time, urgently so, that Massachusetts Democrats realize that they’re in a contest for this political seat, and more than that, it’s a fight for the 60th Senate vote in support of the president. Let’s hope that the Democrats understand that the United States Senate seat held for five decades by Ted Kennedy, and before him his brother Jack, does not belong to their party by divine right. The voters of this state must be persuaded that the Democratic message is in their best interest.

Anything can happen next Tuesday. This is, after all, a special election in the middle of the winter, and cold, snow, sleet, along with all sorts of other distractions could disrupt the turnout, which is likely to be small in any event. On election day, it will be all about GOTV– Get Out The Vote. It will be up to each campaign to pull out its supporters, get 'em to the polls, and win this thing.

Next Tuesday, I will vote to send Martha Coakley to the U.S. Senate. She will be a strong and able successor to Senator Kennedy. And, to echo a campaign slogan from Edward Kennedy’s 1962 campaign, “She can do more for Massachusetts.”

– Ed Forry