Wyclef Jean can save Haiti; Sean Penn is a loser
Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke goes to bat for Wyclef Jean.
Wyclef Jean should become Haiti's president. He should win his appeal of that government's decision barring him from running for president. His heart and mind are in the right place; he is dedicated to helping his country. So far, he has used his star power to raise tens of millions of dollars for Haiti earthquake victims.
However, Wyclef has been helping the people of Haiti since long before the earthquake. He has represented his country throughout his entire career by feeding the hungry and needy and speaking out on the political corruption. He is not like other celebrities and actors who desert their countries when they get to the United States.
Wyclef can bring hope to the Haitian people and draw attention to the country's ills. He would be a tremendous diplomat. Yet at a time when Haiti could use a unifying force, the country's political leaders are determined to create more instability.
This is why I can't understand the motives of people, such as actor Sean Penn, who have the audacity to challenge Wyclef's candidacy. It bothers me when celebrities jump in front of the news cameras and become ambassadors to devastated countries in the immediate aftermath of a natural disaster. They ran to New Orleans for photo ops shortly after Hurricane Katrina. But where are they now when the city is still in bad shape and residents are still displaced?
In a column for the Huffington Post, Penn wrote that Haiti's problems "must be handled and led by a qualified president's deft hand." The Oscar winner has also claimed he hasn't seen or heard from Wyclef during the six months he has been assisting earthquake victims — as if that makes Penn the foremost authority on the country's relief efforts.
I suspect Penn hasn't done much research on Haiti's turbulent political history and the corruption that has plagued the top post. Take, for instance, the administration of the nation's first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Even he left office under a cloud. And long before he was elected president, Aristide was a priest. So why can't a Haitian-born hip-hop star be afforded the opportunity to run for the devastated nation's top elected post?
Here in the United States, if you were born in this country, you're eligible to run for president. The same standard should apply to Wyclef and the other candidates rejected by Haiti's election commission. Yes, Jean moved to the United States when he was a kid, but as an adult, he has proven himself a tireless champion of Haiti.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.