What’s a nice guy like me doing in Ethan Baron’s column in the Province?

Getting my butt chewed out, according to some sharp-eyed readers.

On Monday, EB called me typical of the critics who are quick to condemn celebrities who are just as quick to lend their celebrity to raise money for the survivors of natural disasters like the Haiti earthquake.


He was responding to a column I wrote, a bit cynically I admit, about jewels and gowns for disaster. Instead of criticizing George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, writes EB, I should be giving them a standing ovation.

He “struggles” to understand us critics. “Are they driven by guilt because they’re doing nothing while others are speaking out?” What do these people want anyway?

Well, Ethan, my point, and I do have one, is simple:

There is a profound imbalance here. Everything is upside down. There’s nothing glamorous or uplifting about what happened in Haiti. When Madonna or some other Lady Bountiful stands up on a beautifully lit and appointed stage and lifts her voice to the heavens, I don’t stand and applaud.

When you’re waiting for the ambulance to come, you don’t have time for some song-and-dance routine. You just want help to get there as fast as possible. And in Haiti, or Indonesia, or New Orleans, it simply took too long for the ambulance to arrive. Sadly, the media turned up right away and the celebrities weren’t far behind. Sorry, but that’s backwards.

I also sit on my hands because, in these dire circumstances, the donor should never be more important than the recipient, and in the case of Haiti, the disparity is ridiculous. Remember Anonymous Donor? He’s gone the way of the dodo. Now Bono and Madonna are pushing each other out of the way to get some of that disaster career relief. If George Clooney & Co. really want to help, they could send millions to Oxfam and not tell one single person about it. But they’re celebrities. They can’t help themselves.

Finally, I sit on my hands because these exercises are designed to make the bad feelings go away, and when 200,000 people and the homes of millions more are reduced to rubble, I don’t think the bad feelings should go away. Not for a day, not for a minute. Not until every child is safe, every family reunited.

Ethan, I hope there’s enough food for thought here to make you sit down and hold the applause until there’s something to celebrate. Meanwhile, there’s work to do.

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