The imaginary Haitian holocaust of Dr. Nicolette Bethel
Reading University of The Bahamas (UB) Professor Dr. Nicolette Bethel’s fearmongering comments on the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill and its potential to create a tense racial situation between Bahamians and Haitians similar to Nazi Germany in the 1930s caused me to reflect on the late Anne Frank and her “Diary of a Young Girl”.
Before I examine the implications of Bethel’s startling comments and the situation in Germany in the 1930s, there’s one important question that I would like to pose to her: Considering the social milieu of fascist Europe and Germany during the 1930s, do you really think that our immigration crisis would drive us to the point of committing genocide against the Haitian people, assuming that you were referencing Haitians?
It is my contention that Bethel, a noted cultural anthropologist, erred in conflating the attitude of Bahamians towards Haitians with the attitude of Germans towards ethnic minorities in their country when Hitler was chancellor. Haitians and Bahamians are of African extraction. The Germans hated Jews. Bahamians don’t hate Haitians.
Whatever prejudices that exist towards the Haitian people, it is mainly socioeconomic, not racial. Had Haiti been as financially prosperous as Trinidad and Tobago, we wouldn’t be having this never-ending discussion on the Haitian immigration crisis. Besides, hundreds, if not thousands of Bahamians have intermarried with Haitians. In my opinion, the only Haitian holocaust that would ever occur in The Bahamas would be in the minds of Bethel and other fearmongerers opposed to immigration reform.
With a population of nearly 11 million in Haiti, if left unabated, Haitian immigrants would overwhelm and subsume the Bahamian population of 350,000, hence causing us to lose our nationhood. Perched high on her academic tower, Bethel seems mentally immune from such a theoretical possibility. If I’m interpreting Bethel accurately, Bahamian nationalism could potentially lead to fascism, much like what transpired in the military dictator Francisco Franco’s Spain and Benito Mussolini’s Italy, despite our close proximity to the greatest democracy in the world and the presence of two main political parties in the Free National Movement and the Progressive Liberal Party. I believe Bethel is overreacting.
Now let’s examine what was going on in Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s and 1940s, seeing that Bethel alluded to it.
Otto Frank, Anne’s father, was a German Jew businessman. He would lose his wife, Edith, and daughters, Anne and Margot, in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Belsen in 1945 – the year World War II ended after the bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan. 1945 also witnessed the suicide of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun in Berlin in their underground bunker after news broke of the advancement of Russian troops.
Like the three victims of the Frank family, nearly 5.7 million Jews were murdered in addition to four million Gentiles by Hitler and his henchmen. What was the main motivating factor that influenced Hitler’s anti-Semitism? Was it socioeconomic, as is the case between Bahamians and Haitians? Or was it the popular Darwinian evolutionary theory and its inherent racist ideology which was espoused by Charles Darwin in his “Descent of Man” – a theory that the overwhelming majority of Bahamians reject due to their acceptance of the biblical account of creation in Genesis chapters 1-2? Like many of his English contemporaries, Darwin was a typical racist.
The historical link between Hitler, Sir Francis Galton (the father of eugenics) and Darwin are too strong a link to ignore by evolutionists, whether it was the Darwinian theory or the Lamarckism theory that were bandied about in Third Reich academic circles. Darwin himself stated that the “civilized races of men will certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world savage races”. By the term “savage races,” Darwin was alluding to black people and the Australian aboriginal people who are the inevitable casualties in a survival of the fittest, dog eat dog Entwicklung (German for evolution) world.
It’s no coincidence that Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” means My Struggle. The Germans had descended from the Nordic race. Like many Darwinists in Germany, Hitler viewed his people as being the superior race. That’s why Neo-Nazis are also called white supremacists. To Hitler, there was only a hair’s breadth difference between the negro race and the highest simian species.
Hitler considered the elimination of Jews, Negroes, the mentally retarded, the Slavs, the Gypsies and mongrels essential in preserving the Aryan race in order to achieve German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s Übermensch (Superman) status. As was the case with Darwin, Hitler was also inspired or influenced by the German Darwinist Ernst Haeckel, the German composer Wilhelm Richard Wagner, French novelist Arthur de Gobineau, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, World War I and the Treaty of Versailles, German nationalism, Prussian militarism and the anti-Semitism of German reformer Martin Luther.
In her May 22, 1944 diary entry, Anne Frank called anti-Semitism unjust. Yet she oddly said that “the cause of the hatred of Jews is understandable, even human sometimes, but not good”. Whatever the case may be, the fact that her father was a successful businessman did not matter at all to Hitler and the Third Reich. His Jewish ethnicity placed a huge bull’s eye on him and his family. This is one of the reasons why I believe that Bethel’s reference to Europe of the 1930s isn’t even remotely analogous to the Haitian situation in The Bahamas.
While The Bahamas has had excessively high murder rates, there’s no reason to believe that the Bahamian people will suddenly engage in an all out violent xenophobic campaign against the Haitian people. The criminal element represents a relatively small segment of the Bahamian population. Yet it has managed to influence Bethel’s estimation of the Bahamian people’s temperament.
For her information, most Bahamians value human life. Whatever fear there is regarding a Haitian takeover of The Bahamas, it is well founded, considering that the Haitian population is nearly 30 times the size of the Bahamian population.
– Kevin Evans