I tweeted my condolences to Wyclef and his family, wrote my article about what happened and then left to get something to eat. I then received a tweet from one of my wonderful Twitter followers (who never hesitate to tell me when I'm full of it), who said, "Dr. Watkins, Wyclef wasn't shot, he was cut by glass."
I read the tweet with neck-twisting curiosity because there's a big difference between being shot and being cut by glass. So, I checked the CNN report once again, just to make sure I wasn't seeing things. I saw nothing about being cut by glass, since I'm sure CNN knows the difference between glass and a bullet. So that's when I politely corrected the young woman, letting her know that CNN is confirming that Jean was shot, and we all know that CNN can't be wrong (smiley face).
I then checked all the other mainstream news sites, who were effectively reiterating the CNN report. But then I finally saw something that got my attention: the first reports that Haitian police were saying that Jean wasn't actually shot, but that he was simply cut by glass instead. Apparently, after not getting any sort of statement from Jean himself, the police went to the doctor who treated him. The doctor confirmed that it was glass, and not a bullet that led to Jean's hand being featured in every international news agency in the world.
I'm not here to say that the Haitian police can't tell a lie. We know that police corruption occurs all throughout the world. Additionally, Jean's status as a respected political figure in Haiti begs for a long list of haters who'd love to see his reputation go down in flames.
But the reason I am inclined to believe the police version of the story is because there simply is no other version being made available to the public. Jean is being as quiet as a church mouse, not saying a single word to try to protect the reputation he's been building for the past 15 years. There's (to my knowledge) been no statement from his publicist other than the standard "nothing to see here people" kind of reaction that you get when someone is praying that you stop looking in their direction.
After going public to talk about the heroics of Jean's near-death experience, nearly everyone in his camp has either remained quiet or told the world that Jean is fine and back on the campaign trail. They seem to feel that the shooting was "really no big deal" and that the public should just pretend like it never happened.
Given that Jean was in the country promoting the presidential campaign of Michel Martelly, one can't help but wonder if Jean was doing a political Milly-Vanilly in order to gain media attention for the campaign. The story seriously reminds me of the talk show host Morton Downey Jr., who, in 1989, falsely claimed that he'd been attacked by skinheads in a San Francisco airport bathroom. Downey told the world that the skinheads had tried to shave his head and spray paint a swastika on his face. Given that there was no police evidence that he was attacked and the swastika was on his face backward, the conclusion was that Downey had fabricated the stunt in order to get attention.
I am not one to say that Wyclef Jean is another Morton Downey Jr. But if there is no statement coming from Jean's camp producing evidence that he was actually shot, then most of us are going to simply believe that the story was a lie. To unfairly stain the reputation of Haitian citizens by making them appear to be lawless bandits who shoot one another for no reason, Jean has done a huge disservice to his country and to the citizens of Petitionville, the city where the incident took place. This justifies the police determination to seek out the truth even though Jean refused to speak to them about the incident.
I openly question the integrity of a man who claims to have been shot when he really was not. Is there something else that's being kept from us? Please Wyclef, say it ain't so. But then again, if you did say it ain't so, should we even believe you?
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your e-mail, please click here. To follow Dr. Boyce on Facebook, please click here.