Paternalism, according to Mary A. Renda in her book Taking Haiti, was the most influencing discourse that encouraged the agency of the military occupation in Haiti, allowed for the bolstering of whiteness and masculinity of the U.S. marines, and euphemized the U.S. hegemony over Haiti. U.S. officials and soldiers acted under the guise of racialized paternalism (in which United States was the “benevolent” father and Haiti the unruly and immoral child) to police every district of the nation and consequently, to sell it as an exotic commodity through travel narrative, plays, and films. Renda, in her rather lengthy scholarly analysis, discusses the impact of paternalism in these aspects, as well as providing a brief history of Haiti and dissecting cultural products back in United States that responded to the discourses on Haiti. Following Renda’s lead, this paper ‘” hopefully without overtly summarizing Renda’s work ‘” will analyze Renda’s arguments to delve into four different topics: (1) how the discourse of paternalism formed a new racist and masculine identity for United States marines; (2) how paternalism justified the agency of U.S. military action in Haiti; (3) the effect of racialized paternalism in Haiti; (4)and discourses that responded to the discourse of paternalism.
Paternalism was an especially effective discourse for conscripting white American males ‘” residents and newly arrived European immigrants ‘” to occupy and control Haiti. Many have grown under caring and authoritative fathers while some were fathers themselves. Some even understood the severity of paternal discipline, as some joined the military to escape their fathers’ authority. Thus, they came with personal experience of paternalism and not only that, having come from a land where blacks were legally discriminated and harmed and where Ku Klux Klan was nearing a membership of 1.5 million people, the enlisted men were completely ready to accept the role of being dominating disciplinarians to the underdeveloped, inferior, and misbehaving black Haitians. Indoctrinated by the paternal discourse in the training base in South Carolina, these soldiers came to see them as wise white fathers to the stupid black Haitian sons and daughters. For the marines, being a dominating father figure to the negro Haitians was the biggest chance to prove their manhood, especially as the world war was changing the traditional gender roles back at home. By coming to Haiti and harshly fathering the natives there, they were able to renew their power of masculinity. At a time when military shortage was being compensated for by European immigrants, and thus ethnically mixing the group of marines, being around childish blacks strengthened the tie of the group, and they were able to redefine their whiteness as a force of imperialism in Haiti, and this time, the white masculinity strongly resisted the delinquencies of the Cacos. Thus, “although U.S. paternal discourses failed, on the whole, to persuade Haitian to sign on to American plans and ideas, and failed as well to attract large-scale U.S. investments to occupied Haiti, it succeeded, in crucial ways, in conscripting the marines assigned the task of carrying out the occupation” (123).
On the nationwide scale, paternalism was used to justify the invasion of Haiti. The political troubles in Haiti became to be reported by journalists in America as the chaos of letting under-evolved black Haitians run a nation by themselves. Haiti was often described, especially through Edna Taft, to be the eldest daughter of Africa, and as such, unruly, immature, and needing guidance. In consequence, the American public applauded when the U.S. marines invaded Haiti, “installed a puppet president, dissolved the [Haitian] legislature at gunpoint, denied freedom of speech, and forced a new constitution of the Caribbean nation ‘” one more favorable to foreign investment” (10). Even as Haitians death tolls soared up to 3,000 (it’d be more accurate to say 11,500) and even as Haitians became the marines’ wage slaves in the corvee system, justification through paternalism allowed Americans, especially with the ongoing World War I overseas, to see Haitian occupation as a simple sideshow in which United States marines gave paternal care and discipline to the juvenile Haitian delinquents. But clearly, U.S. invasion of Haiti “was no sideshow” (12).
Haiti was a place where United States exercised injustice and inequality, where villages ‘” with people still in them ‘” just for voicing opposition to the marines’ occupation, where rapists were always black men and rape victims always white women, and where black women and only black women were responsible for cannibalistic voodoo practices that coerced the marines to undergo a process of devolution by “going native.” As such, the effect of paternalism on Haiti was immense. Infrastructure, transportation, and communication systems were built as a way of improving and developing the infantile Haiti, which only resulted in stricter and more effective policing of every district in Haiti by the marines. The rowdy, childish behaviors of insurgents were corporally punished by the bullets of the marines. Free press was forbidden in an attempt to educate the adolescent Haitian of the proper way to speak and write. Every force of paternalism was used to put the white fatherly marines on the very top of the power structure in Haiti while justifying the placement of black juvenile Haitians at the utmost bottom. Not only that, the paternalist discourse made the Haitian situation a mere “sideshow” to the Americans and until prominent black Americans actually visited the place was the issue really addressed to the American public.
However, actual visitation did not necessarily mean criticism of the military occupation of Haiti. In fact, there was a rise of new discourses that masked the racist and sexist effects of paternalism. One of the most important of these discourses was exoticism, as exemplified by works such as Black Haiti: A Biography of Africa’s Eldest Daughter by Blair Niles and The Magic Island by William Seabrook. Along with films and travel narratives, these books mystified the Haitian culture as to make Haiti “a reflection of U.S. American fears and desires, and thus as a salable commodity” (228). Beyond the discourse of paternalism, these discourses of exoticism, which was scrutinized extensively by Renda, produced a Haiti that was viable and appealing to U.S. American tourists. Thanks to Niles and Seabrook, Haiti was now a buyable fantasy, protected and marketed by the U.S. marines.
Of course, exoticism wasn’t the only response made by the American citizens back at home. In an effort to counter the discourse of paternalism, the play Emperor Jones featured a strong black emperor as the protagonist. In this play, the discourse of paternalism was shifted because in this play, the black man was shown to embody true masculinity and true manhood. True, the play exhibited another form of exoticism in the scenes in which Emperor Jones was stripped nearly naked, but more than any other forms, this play showcased a discourse that was not a racialized and sexualized form of paternalism. Another work that opposed the paternalist discourse was simply called Haiti and it showed on stage the struggles for freedom of a black woman. These discourses opposed the military agency that was practicing abusive, racialized, and sexualized power and called for a new kind of agency, the African American press to advocate for a better change.
By 1934, even the influential discourse of paternalism wasn’t strong enough to endure criticizing discourses and opposing agencies such as the NAACP, ICW, ISS (International Socialist Society), UNIA, and the new fervent voice and writings of Samuel Guy Inman. Having failed economically in Haiti and suffering the brunt of criticisms back at home, not to mention the severe effects of the Great Depression, United States soldiers were beckoned back home or elsewhere and Haiti was finally left to itself to deal with the effects of whiteness and its imposed masculinity. United States instead opted to adopt the Philippines (until the World War II) and Puerto Rico as its child, leaving Haiti to be, instead, a fantasized racial commodity for the white United States citizens. Though Renda concludes vaguely at how Haiti truly affected Americans, with a glimpse of American history from then to now, it is apparent that paternalism has evolved since its use in the Haitian coast that now, United States can assert itself as a global superpower and justify its fathering of nations not only in the Caribbean but in the Middle East (Iraq and Afghanistan) and Asia (South Korea) as well. If anything, Renda has shown that paternalism in Haiti was only the beginning or racialization and sexualization that is paternalism.
NOTES AND QUOTES TAKEN FROM BOOK
-“Who did U.S. American men think they were in Haiti and how did the people of the United States imagine themselves when they read about their nation’s occupation there?” (9)
-“The United States invaded Haiti in July 1915 and subsequently held the second oldest independent nation in western hemisphere under military occupation for nineteen years. While in Haiti, marines installed a puppet president, dissolved the legislate at gunpoint, denied freedom of speech, and forced a new constitution of the Caribbean nation ‘” one more favorable to foreign investment.” (10)
-“Meanwhile, marines waged war against insurgents (called Cacos)” (10) -> U.S. reported 3,000 deaths; actual death toll may have been over 11,500
-“Far from laying the groundwork for the hoped-for advent of democracy, material improvements in transportation and communication served to increase the efficacy of the occupation as a police state, with marines and gendarmes in command of every district of the country.” (11)
-U.S. invasion of Haiti “was no sideshow.” (12)
-U.S. marines motivated to occupy Haiti through the ideal of paternalism
paternalism: “form of domination, a relation of power, masked as benevolent by its reference to paternal care and guidance but structured equally by norms of paternal authority and discipline” (15)
“In crucial but perhaps the obvious ways, paternalism was also structured by gender and sexuality” (15) It also “constructed a given social space in terms of racialized (and class-specific) codes of masculinity and femininity” (16)
-Paternalism “equally a mechanism for conscripting other U.S. Americans'”and, for that matter, Haitians'”into the project of establishing a U.S. empire” (18)
-“Adhering to paternalist narrative, they [journalists] stressed the uncivilized nature of Haitian political processes to date and portrayed military occupation as a moral imperative” (18)
-“The career of paternalism arose, not out of some singular overarching plan to subjugate Haiti, but rather, in one instance, out of the professional aspirations of naval officers competing for funding and recognition within a military bureaucracy, and in another, out of particular needs and aspirations of churchgoing citizens” (24)
-“My [Renda’s] argument is that paternalism did not mitigate against violence but rather reinforced and extended it.”
-Haitian objects of culture: conch shells, Soup Joumou (pumpkin soup)
-Haiti history of overthrowing French slavery and trying to become their own sovereign nation
-marines from all backgrounds and racially influenced against blacks esp. if from South, esp. as Ku Klux Klan was mobilizing and growing
-white immigrant conscripted to the U.S. military by Teddy Roosevelt due to shortages in all branches due to military’s low pay and poor working conditions. “As of 1895, the result was that in some parts of the country fully a quarter of the corps’ enlistment were made up of immigrant aliens” (59) War with Spain increased enlistment. Also increased with 20% increase of marines pay
-marines were American men who had trouble with both identities of “American” and of his masculinity
+confused about American because of so much ethnic mixing in military
+confused about masculinity because of industrialization (which made them feel helpless and unable to control their own women); women’s movements regarding labor and suffrage
-“in that context, both empire and military action emerged as favored paths for affirming the nation’s virility” (64)
Through cultural objects like “Wild West,” college football, Rough Riders, Tarzan of the Apes, “whiteness had become an essential element of American manhood, and American men were poised to assert their mastery around the globe” (64)
-paternalism important when assessing reasons why men enlisted
-soldiers in relation to their fathers: “father played key roles in their lives, providing moral leadership and material assistance as well as modeling authority, self-resistance, and manly success on various levels” (67) But many also ran away from home to join the marines in resentment to their fathers and to “paternal authority and discipline” (68)
-“As sons, both real and metaphorical, they knew its power dynamics all too well” (69)
-“Some marines wielded paternal authority as fathers themselves” (69)
-man known as “fairy”: “a feminine men who was wiling to be sexually penetrated — ‘fairies’ like women, could be the object of masculine dominance in such sexual encounter because in these communities sexual identities had not settled into its modern pattern. Men were not ‘˜homosexual’ or heterosexual’ or ‘˜bisexual.’ As long as men took the ‘˜active’ role in the sexual encounter, he could be certain of his gender status” (73)
-officers though had growing antipathy toward “fairies”
-paternalism in affecting indoctrination of marines: paternalism “structured the relationship between officers and ‘˜men,’ between marines in their roles as ship guards and the sailors whose behaviors they monitored, and between marines and the people they would encounter overseas” (77)
-“paternalist rhetoric served crucial political ends” to make occupation of Haiti seen in the best of light. Letters of Major Smedly Darlington Butler from Haiti used blatant paternalism; Wilson’s speeches were filled with moralism but paternalism existed in coded form
-Washington officials ignorant of Latin America. Head Secretary of Division of Latin America was only put in that position because his company had a branch in Mexico. So administration virtually guided by bankers and businessmen wanting stability in Haiti
-“in the paternalist framework, the relation of father to child was not only marked by the care, guidance, protection and affection of the father for the child, but also by the father’s proprietary claims to, ad mastery over the child. Haitian resistance to American mastery upset the would-be routine functioning of the discourse and forced open to view its uglier side” (84)
-“paternalism, it should be obvious, was always also racism” (105)
-“whether open to view or just below the surface, paternalism in Haiti always embodied the logic of domination — it [paternalism] was based on the assumption that Haitians were, as yet, in the early stages of their evolutionary development as a people” (115)
-Adolph Miller’s “American Idea”: “U.S. control of Haitian finances would benefit Haitians by allowing the creation of public works program with American serving as the employer of Haitian wage laborers” (117)
-“Paternalism was, then, a language and an approach shared by progressive military figures in Haiti and potential investors in the United States” (122)
-“Although U.S. paternal discourses failed, on the whole, to persuade Haitian to sign on to American plans and ideas, and failed as well to attract large-scale U.S. investments to occupied Haiti, it succeeded, in crucial ways, in conscripting the marines assigned the task of carrying out the occupation” (123)
-“By appealing to the marines’ sense of manhood, the rhetoric of paternalism invited marines to make the imperialist project their own”
-John Houston Craige’s Black Bagdad describes mental and emotional breakdown of marines which led to violence against innocent Haitians, due to loneliness, heat, isolation, and the effect of Haitian women or absence of white women
-Lieutenant Colonel Harold Utley’s “Tactics and Techniques of Small wars”: guidelines for marines to follow for undeclared wars. Stated in it, in “wars that are not wars, we are at peace no matter how thickly the bullets are flying” (135)
-“In a sense, the occupation put marines in a position where they would erupt. The complexities of national, racial, and gender identity in the occupation'”the marines’ desire to affirm their whiteness, their masculinity, and their social distance from Haitians'”created tensions that could not be fully managed by paternalist injunctions” (137)
-Foucault: “infinitesimal mechanisms of power”
-1918-1919: Gendermarie’s instituted corvee -> virtual slavery of Haitian peasants. -> strengthened Caco resistance and even civilians supported more of Cacos than marines. More than 3000 Haitians killed,
-discourse in justification against violence against Cacos: “It was the Haitians’ fanaticism, this implied, not the Americans’ brutality, that upped the ante of violence in the conflict” (151)
-cannabalism stories fed to marines to fear Cacos to prevent them going “native.” Still, moral breakdown common among gendarmerie as they lived with and fought with Haitians and many grew sympathy towards them. Some married native women
-“cannibalism reminded marines, with the force of deeply felt emotion to be vigilant about maintaining boundaries, even, or especially, when they themselves were breaching those boundaries” (175)
-James Weldon Johnson: black NAACP field secretary who wrote in opposition to U.S. occupation of Haiti
-Eugene O’Neil: wrote the play Emperor Jones starring a black emperor characterizing ambiguities of Haiti and the black identity
-“relations of power at work in the occupation gave marines access to Haitians'”their bodies and services'”as well as to Haitian culture and lore” (212)
-“Americans viewed Haitian servants and prostitutes as commodities insofar as the latter could be bought and sold and insofar as they could confer upon the ‘˜buyer’ a sense of status and identity linked to class, race, gender, and sexuality” (215)
-“in the 1930s, myriad cultural forms (e.g. novels, short stories, memoirs, travel narratives, plays and films) made use of the belief that, in Haiti, the dead could be made to rise in their soulless bodies and would then be subordinated to the will of the master. These images could be threatening: monstrous, once-dead black men rising up, embodying white fears of black revolt at home as well as abroad” (225)
-“Since the long occupation, Haiti has continued to serve, in more and less veiled ways, as a reflection of U.S. American fears and desires, and thus as a salable commodity” (228)
-cultural writers of Haiti:
Samuel Guy Inman: Through Santo Domingo and Haiti: A cruise with the Marines. Stated Haiti was a place of darkness that needed American aid, but not through marines but through missionaries and ministers
Blair Nile: Black Haiti: A Biography of Africa’s Eldest Daughter. Cultural appreciation and non-paternalistic attitude but even so, approved of marines’ occupation
William Seabrok’s The Magic Island. Mystifies voodoo religion. Force of exoticism.
-Edna Taft’s “Voodoo-Land.” Was designed to represent fantasies of white women, not men
-“Within the dominant cultural framework that defined rape, only white women could be the target and victim of the crime, while the African American man was the archetypal figure of the rapist” (257)
-voices against imperialism in Haiti: missionaries, NAACP, UNIA (Marcus Gravey), NACW, ICW, Intercollegiate Socialist Society (ISS), Workers Party (Communist Party), African American press, entirely changed Inman in the 30s (also against racism now_
-Bontimps’ Black Thunder.
-play Haiti originally written by white William DuBois to be enacted on stage before being revised by Maurice Clark, which signified black women’s struggle for freedom