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Anorak | Saving Haiti: if a celebrity won’t exploit you Oxfam will

Saving Haiti: if a celebrity won’t exploit you Oxfam will

by | 17th, February 2018

Oxfam’s chief executive Mark Goldring has been talking to the Guardian. The paper says the mood at Oxfam is one akin to a “sudden bereavement” – much like Haitians felt when 200,000 of them were killed in an earthquake, or worse?

Oxfam staff are “close to tears”. Goldring “hasn’t slept for six nights and he looks stricken,” we’re told. Anyone wondering why Goldring chose to speak with the Guardian and not, say the Daily Mail or Times, which broke the story of Oxfam’s alleged laissez-faire attitude to criminality and sexual exploitation by its staff? This is less interview than PR.

Goldring was “justifiably fretting that his words would be wilfully twisted to do Oxfam yet more damage”. But here he is in the Guardian, a man in mourning wondering if the inheritance tax and death duties will damage the brand. He complains of being “savaged” in the media, his words “manipulated”. No danger of that in the Guardian, which sees good in the simple act of a grown man at the top of powerful multi-million pound organisation – last year’s income: £408.6 million – talking “alone, unchaperoned by press officers” – one of the 20 full-time press officers the Times says are on Oxfam’s books. He is “unguarded and candid. The impression I form is of someone telling the truth: if Goldring has been guilty of anything, I think it might be naivety about the vulnerability of almost any organisation in the febrile public mood of distrust.”

It’s not so much about Oxfam lying and covering up alleged criminality and exploiting the bereft and genuinely bereaved, allowing staffers to leave without a stain on their CVs and thus best able to secure other jobs at other aid organisations, which some did, it’s about you. Asked why Oxfam lied and covered up immoral behaviour by some of its staff, Goldring offers:

“That was wrong. I believe it was done in good faith to try to balance being transparent and protecting Oxfam’s work. I don’t think [Oxfam] wanted to promote a sensation and damage the delivery of [the Haiti] programme. With hindsight, we should have said more. I’ve been clear about that since this broke. But if Oxfam’s business is to help save lives, if your organisation is there to actually help make the world a better place, I can see why people thought this was the right thing to do.”

It’s you they don’t trust, you judgemental sods who give so generously to Oxfam. It’s about ring-fencing your giving from people who don’t have the best of intentions. It might be about the Haitians, but don’t worry about them. Just give. Oxfam will decide what they need.

Goldring adds:

 “The intensity and the ferocity of the attack makes you wonder, what did we do? We murdered babies in their cots? Certainly, the scale and the intensity of the attacks feels out of proportion to the level of culpability. I struggle to understand it. You think: ‘My God, there’s something going on there.’”

He is then invited to go on the attack. The Guardian leads him to the escape hatch and kicks it open:

Is it that political opponents of international aid – the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel – are exploiting Oxfam’s crisis? He hesitates.

Are leading Tories the problem here? Goldring dismisses the idea out of hand, saying that it’d be a sick irony to present Oxfam as the victims of an opportunist, self-serving elite. No, of course not. He says:

“Others are better to judge whether that’s right or wrong. I don’t think it’s right for Oxfam to say that at the moment, because even that feels self-serving. What I’m really concerned about is that this is not used as an approach to attack aid.” But it already is. “Yes. It is.”

Good job it’s not about first world westerners, the rich, saintly and knowing, riding in to save the hapless, perpetually needy Third Worlders from starvation and poverty by telling them how many babies to have, that Fairtrade is better than GM, that to live ‘ethically’ is ideal, water is best when it comes not from pipes by from wells dug by Prince William, and if they’re lucky a celebrity coloniser will adopt one of them. Good job it’s not about the vain and well off controlling the impoverished and using them to show off their own moral goodness. It’s not about them. It’s all about us. Charity, after all, begins at home…

 



Posted: 17th, February 2018 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink