Humanitarian Ownership

Hillary Clinton: Dibs on Women, Children, and Dead People

Listening to Hillary Clinton debate Bernie Sanders on April 14, 2016, convinced me of one thing: she owns women, children, and dead people.

The first time Hillary Clinton mentioned “children” in the debate it was with notable overemphasis—children! Children—I said it first, I said it loudest. Children, they’re mine, that’s my turf. You want to talk about children, then you come talk to me. Even when the children are children of Palestinian parents, she still owns them with her overwhelming parental concern and her scorn for their irresponsible parents:

“So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children [pronounced CHILDREN!] of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere”.

(If you click on that last link, you will hear that I am not exaggerating.)

Women also belong to Hillary Clinton. Ask her imperial feminist friends, Gloria Steinem and Madeleine Albright, who practically said as much. Thus in the same debate, Clinton claimed women’s rights as her special concern—exclusive of Sanders:

“And in the meantime we have states, governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights. We have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished. And we are never asked about this.

“And to be complete in my concern, Senator Sanders says with respect to Trump it was a distraction. I don’t think it’s a distraction. It goes to the heart of who we are as women, our rights, our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, and we need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks”.

To be complete in my concern? She is rounding up women, and herding them into her camp. Women are first cast as vulnerable: suffering restrictions, facing threats of punishment, and risking outrageous attacks. However, under her stewardship, “we women” will have rights and autonomy and the power to make their own decisions. And what decisions will they now make with all this power? To be martyrs for Hillary’s cause?

Where matters turned a little more grim, by design, is when Hillary Clinton essentially declared: “Dibs on the dead people!” She exploited the opportunity of Bernie Sanders chuckling at her immediately preceding comments, and in order to shut him up and deflect the mockery, she went deadly serious:

“And what I want to start by saying—it’s not a laughing matter—90 people on average a day are killed or commit suicide or die in accidents from guns, 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously, because I have spent more time than I care to remember being with people who have lost their loved ones”.

She also spent more time than she cares to remember doing another thing: taking a commanding lead in organizing the killing of people, such as uncounted Libyans. This is the same person who cackled with bloodlust over the gruesome torture and murder of Muammar Gaddafi. But now it is all about “loved ones”—her language is deliberately softened when she wishes to command nurturing emotions, it’s always about “loved ones” or “care givers”. Sanders, we are led to believe, is instead a heartless villain who likes to laugh about people dying.

Hillary Clinton takes killing “really seriously”. We owe her. We owe her silent respect when she pontificates on the dead. She, the Queen of the Dead, is to be revered. When once we were laughing, we should suddenly stop: the Queen is speaking now, and we must submit to her just-in-time sorrow.

Supposedly, after Hillary Clinton verbally planted her flag on children’s heads, we should forget how actual children have been treated by her. For example, as Rania Khalek recently summarized:

“Clinton supported and legitimized the right-wing Honduran military coup that ousted democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in 2009, plunging Honduras into record-setting violence that sent thousands of children fleeing for their lives. Clinton later advocated for the deportation of tens of thousands of unaccompanied Central American refugee children who sought asylum in the US in 2014 to ‘send a message’ to their parents that ‘just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.’ Nearly a third of those children had fled post-coup violence in Honduras. Clinton reiterated her support for deporting them as recently as August”.

Her “complete concern” for Black children in urban gangs in the US was demonstrated in her calling them “super-predators”.

Everything about Hillary Clinton evokes alarm (and directs attention away from her role in creating crises from which she profits). She’s a bell ringer. Her ethos, quite conveniently, is that of emergency rule. She always has to shout—everything is just so urgent and dangerous. She creates the sense of emergency, and reaps the reward to rule. The deep, racketeering cynicism of her campaign is as odious as it is bottomless. Expect more of the same from this profit-seeking moral hazard called Hillary Clinton.

Samantha Power: High Speed US Power Slams into a Child

Here is an excerpt from a New York Times report on a Cameroonian child mowed down by the speeding motorcade that was rushing Samantha Power into humanitarian action, as another moral owner of the world’s children in her guise as US Ambassador to the UN:

“MOKOLO, Cameroon — As the convoy barreled through a village in northern Cameroon on Monday, a 7-year-old boy darted to the road, excited to see the chain of white S.U.V.s carrying Samantha Power, the first cabinet-level American official to visit the country since 1991. Distracted by a thundering noise, the boy glanced up at the helicopter providing security from above. Suddenly, he was struck dead — killed by the same convoy that had brought officials to showcase American efforts to help protect West Africa’s women and children. After hitting the boy, one S.U.V. carrying State Department employees pulled to the side of the road. The rest of the motorcade continued on its way. ‘Oh, my God,’ Ms. Power said later, after she was informed of the tragedy, according to her spokesman, Kurtis Cooper. ‘I want to go see his family,’ she added, and later she did. The episode highlighted one of the enduring quandaries of American power. In some remote parts of the world, the only interaction people have with the United States is from afar, whether from the movies produced by Hollywood or the drones overhead that can strike at will. In this case, Ms. Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, had come to West Africa to help raise awareness and win people over….

“The convoys at times hurtle through cities, villages and towns at hair-raising speeds. Villagers, especially children, rush to the side of the road to watch, often running alongside the moving cars as long as they can, shouting and waving. As Ms. Powers’s convoy left the scene of accident on Monday, an older man ran to the fallen boy, who lay spread-eagled and bleeding on the road. Then the convoy disappeared around a curve and continued on to Mokolo and points beyond where Ms. Power had appointments with women and children victimized by Boko Haram”.

It was an accident, you will say. Of course it was: one very unfortunate, very preventable, and especially ironic accident. The irony in the Power motorcade killing a child—one of those to be saved by the gentle graces and good intentions of US humanitarianism—reveals the sick codependence of opulence and waste in the West. The saviour is a killer.

The Power-ful travel as always under heavy guard and at the speed of emergency. The rest are expendables. Those whose presence is an inconvenient one, can be aborted.

That might remind us of another part of the neoliberal humanitarian vision of personal autonomy and power in the West: the right to abort at home, and adopt abroad. The cycle of consumption-fuelled wastage, powers the promise of expanded growth. In this vision, humans become natural resources. Excessive supply means lower value and greater disposability. The motorcade slams into the child—yes, so tragic, our thoughts and prayers and whatever—but it moves on.

Mr. Honkey: Abduction and Redemption

Previously, I wrote about such entities and processes under the heading of “humanitarian abduction,” or the globalization of residential schooling. There I argued that Western humanitarianism works best within an imperialist ideological framework:

“What  ‘abduction’  can  also  mean  is  that  in  order  for  ‘us’ (the interventionists) to presume to ‘care’ for little known and even less understood strangers, these ‘others’ must be seen  as  living  in  a  state  of  some  sort  of  neglect  and  unfulfilled  need.  That  other  thus  becomes  like  an  object  that  is  first ‘seized’ so that it can be set free. That other is an object set low within a hierarchy, one that resembles old cultural  evolutionist  schemes  where  Europeans  were  always  at the top, and Africans locked far down below in a Paleolithic  time  zone  awaiting  redemption”.

This why in my last essay I argued that the basic structure of rebellions against neoliberalism would include a heavy emphasis on sovereignty, self-determination, and local-centred power.

Some of this spirit was articulated in the old calypso by Trinidad’s Lord Kitchener in “Mr. Honkey”. This is a beast-fable, about an English humanitarian in Trinidad who captures a wild male donkey he thinks is suffering—“Why should this animal roam? Poor animal starving, so he decided to take him home”. The donkey insists that he is instead fine and demands: “Take me back where you found me Mr. Honkey! I didn’t ask anybody for any sympathy…”. The donkey turns into an ever more threatening presence, however, as he slowly morphs into a human figure and climbs into bed with the Englishman. In the Trinidadian context, a donkey is also understood as a figure that is especially “well endowed” with an impressive member.

These people who like to speak of the “arc of history”—because they own that too—are understandably frightened about a newly decolonizing world. Led by a humiliated and sore Mr. Honkey, the likes of Hillary Clinton and Samantha Power will soon be marched back to their original home, in the Twilight Zone.