The Pat Robertson Thing

Robertson’s little speech about Haiti was so appalling on so many levels that I imagine it’s a bit like looking up and seeing that you’re about to get hit by a dozen water balloons filled with mud–you just close your eyes and wait for it to be over, because it’s not going to be just a little dirty.

There’s the disgusting aspect of equating voodoo with selling your soul to the Christian devil. This has been a long-held and historical slander against African-derived beliefs, with real consequences, even now. That a man can get on national television and start spouting off about how a group of people deserves and has brought upon themselves suffering because of their religious beliefs… Here’s the thing. I don’t believe that Pat Robertson is stupid. He must know the historical precedents–what happens when Christians get it in their heads that God has willed terrible things against some other religious group. And yet, he still says shit like that. Which means that’s the position he’s advocating.

There’s the equating fighting for your freedom with being on the side of the Devil. This is an argument that all our American ancestors heard all the time–that the desire for freedom (and the actions one might take to get it) was Satanic. But it is still shocking to hear a person saying that same thing in 2010–that slaves fighting for freedom were on the side of the Devil.

And speaking of old-timey beliefs, of course, underlying the above paragraph is the old-timey belief that black people are demonic and of the devil in the first place.

But he’s got all these old-timey beliefs coupled with the extreme privilege of being able to spout off a fairy tale about the history of Haiti and passing it off like truth. It’s not as if things were just magically bad for Haiti from the start. Some country–the US–has been meddling in Haitian affairs from the get-go, with embargoes and CIA-led coupes and treating Haitian refugees differently than Cuban refugees, etc., etc., etc.  Haiti is not where it is because God and the Devil have interfered in Haitian history. Haiti is where it is because other nations have interfered in Haitian history.

But that’s one of the things I loved about the Haitian ambassador’s response on Maddow last night, when he talked about this Devil’s deal and reminded viewers that, if there was a bargain, we got the Louisiana purchase out of it. I think Robertson already believes God might destroy us at any minute for sins supposed and real, so I doubt the point made sense to him. But I hope it made others think.

That brings me to my last point, and the point that kept me up last night. If there were a being who waited long after you were dead, long after you’d been dead so long that most of your descendants didn’t even know your name, who then visited his anger at you on the people who lived in your country, who killed small children with impunity, who stood back and watched while people cried for help in the dark while other people cried because they couldn’t get to them and was satisfied because his vengeance had been meted out, wouldn’t that being be monstrous? Demonic, even?  If you knew a man like that, who waited long after the person he was angry at was dead and snuck up on that person’s extended family and friends and people with the bad fortune of being tangentially connected to the dead person and killed them, even the children born long after the person he was angry at was dead, you’d think that man was some kind of psychopath.

And this is the god Pat Robertson worships? This is the god he expects non-evil people to turn to? To open their hearts to?

I don’t mean to be flippant, but if the got Pat Robertson worships would do this to the people of Haiti, and that’s what he’s claiming, that his god actively did this–not just sat back and let it happen or that it’s all part of some plan or we just don’t understand or whatever stuff we tell ourselves to try to reconcile these kinds of tragedies–but actively and deliberately did this, how can you tell the difference between that god and the Devil?

24 thoughts on “The Pat Robertson Thing

  1. Robertson knows that his audience is ignorant of any history that happened between Revelations and the death of Anna Nicole Smith…

    The food crisis erupted first and most dramatically in Haiti in early 2008. Like Bangladesh, Haiti today is a symbol of misery and despair. And, like Bangladesh, when European explorers arrived, the island was remarkably rich in resources, with a large and flourishing population. It later became the source of much of France’s wealth. I will not run through the sordid history, but the current food crisis can be traced directly to 1915, Woodrow Wilson’s invasion: murderous, brutal, and destructive. Among Wilson’s many crimes was dissolving the Haitian Parliament at gunpoint because it refused to pass “progressive legislation” that would have allowed U.S. businesses to take over Haitian lands. Wilson’s Marines then ran a free election, in which the legislation was passed by 99.9 percent of the 5 percent of the public permitted to vote. All of this comes down through history as “Wilsonian idealism.”

  2. Haiti is where it is because other nations have interfered in Haitian history.

    This is correct and I don’t understand why there’s all this focus on Pat Robertson while Bill O’reilly and Rush Limbaugh said equally horrid things about Haiti yesterday. O’Reilly mentioned the voodoo thing and he said if you send your money to Haiti it will get stolen, and he doesn’t understand why the Dominican Republic “has all of these resorts” whereas Haiti is brutally impoverished, even though it’s the same island.

    And the stupid rolls on …

  3. > who killed small children with impunity, who stood back and watched while people cried for help in the dark while other people cried because they couldn’t get to them and was satisfied because his vengeance had been meted out

    Just keep repeating: “omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent, benevolent, benevolent…” If you chant this enough times, pesky things like “reality” will melt away. It might help if you rocked to and fro like a madrassa student while chanting.

  4. Haitians are digging the dead out of piles of rubble and trying to help the many thousands who are injured and all our right wing media can do is pass judgment. Typical, very typical.

  5. Best idea:

    Seize Robertson’s financial assets; use to airlift surviving Haitians to the U.S. and deport Robertson and his right-wing extremists to Haiti. We get God’s children while getting rid of the devil incarnate — and Robertson finances the operation. Win-win.

  6. The most depressing thing about all the right wing commentaries is that sooo many people in America will eat this up like it’s manna from heaven. I beginning to believe most of the sensible people in this country have retired and left the building. Now if could only get the righty talkers to take their shows on the road.

  7. sooo many people in America will eat this up like it’s manna from heaven.

    As if withholding aid from the suffering was one of Jesus’ directives. (Matthew 25:35)

  8. Maybe this is off topic – but it deals with religion (Christianity) & it’s been rattling around in my brain since last night.

    On my Facebook feed, I have quite a few people (mostly from back home) that constantly put some sort of religious message in their updates – that they’re going to church, that they participated in some sort of ministry type thing – basically, they all kind of try to out-church one another.

    Since the whole Haiti disaster happened, however, they’ve all been suspiciously quiet. Not one word. Nothing about sympathy for these people, how to give, nothing. And I find that troubling. Many of these people are what I refer to as the “oversharers” — but in the face of one of the greatest disasters in our recent history, not one word.

    Seriously, what WOULD Jesus do?

  9. I’d like to just meekly (is it meek if I even talk about it? No, not really) point out that we Mennonites are just basically shutting up and going down there to do what we do best.

    Mennonites going to Haiti

    Beth, I am increasingly convinced that there is a segment of folks for whom church is what you do when you are tired of bowling. My FB feed is also full of these folk.

    (BTW, it’s good to be back.)

  10. Maybe I’m just old. Maybe I just don’t understand the influence Robertson has; maybe he’s not a laughingstock to all but his extreme faithful few; maybe I ought to worry, or get angry. But after he blamed Hurricane Katrina on teh geyz and the September 11th bombings on teh eeeevil ACLU, is anyone surprised by this? And is anyone actually paying attention to him? And, if so, why?

  11. Because there’s a core of people who believe what he believes but don’t have the wattage to broadcast their beliefs. You’d go broke betting against the seriously bigoted in this country.

    My “favorite” (that is to say, most risible and stupid) Robertson quote:

    “Feminism is a socialist, anti-family, political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

  12. Pingback: Unblogged Bits for Thursday, 14 January 2010 | ***Dave Does the Blog

  13. I wanna be the first to start the rumor that Barack Obama created this earthquake with our secret earthquake weapon, in order to draw attention away from the healthcare fight in congress.

  14. Dude, you’d better hurry up and get on that! Because that’s only slightly crazier than what Limbaugh said today. If you wait much longer, someone’s going to steal it from you.

  15. Exador, that’s almost as crazy as someone suggesting that Pat Robertson fraudulently diverted charitable donations for disaster relief efforts to African diamond mining adventures that he has an interest in!

    Oh, wait…

    …Robertson has used the tax-exempt, nonprofit Operation Blessing as a front for his shadowy financial schemes, while exerting his influence within the GOP to cover his tracks. In 1994 he made an emotional plea on The 700 Club for cash donations to Operation Blessing to support airlifts of refugees from the Rwandan civil war to Zaire (now Congo). Reporter Bill Sizemore of The Virginian Pilot later discovered that Operation Blessing’s planes were transporting diamond-mining equipment for the African Development Corporation, a Robertson-owned venture initiated with the cooperation of Zaire’s then-dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.

  16. You know I love you all! I have found like minded people! Left of Center, let’s get on that task first thing in the morning!
    Exador, I am sure you are too late…someone was probably on that one yesterday.
    Robertson and Limbaugh need to have their First Amendment rights revoked….Immediately!!!!!!
    The frightening part is…their are people who will jump on the devil theory. Beam me up Scotty!

  17. Pingback: Rev. Pat Robertson claims Haiti earthquake is punishment for ‘pact with the Devil’ « Nashville Is Talking

  18. Um you guys are way slow on the Haiti earthquake caused by Obama/U.S. rumors. Conspiracy nuts have long believed that a scientific program called HARP is a military cover for a machine that generates earthquakes. And they’ve already started posting on the Haiti quake. Just google HAARP Haiti earthquake and read away!

  19. Don’t you guys know that it was really Global Warming that caused the Haiti earthquake, according to Danny Glover.

    I guess it’s just another example of religion getting in the way of rational thinking, huh? ;)

    And concerning Beth’s comment, I’ve noticed a lot of my Facebook friends making comments on the Haiti situation, whether they be religious or not. But if you go looking for a bias in such situations, you can usually find it.

    But really, has a correlation been found between facebook comments and actual donations?

  20. Lee, all I know is that my FB feed is now full of people who want to create cancer awareness with a stream of nonsensical secret messages about bra colours and haircuts.

    It’s surreal.

  21. Lee – I don’t normally go looking for bias or that type of thing. It’s just that I think there are two types of people who subscribe to Christianity – the kind, like Coble described, where church is just another activity. Then there are people who truly try to live as Christ would. In my case, these are the same people who join groups like “I bet I can find a million Christians on FB” — I’m not saying all these people are “all hat no cattle” as they say in Texas. But there are several people I know that stick out in my mind.

    As for the bra colors, glad that’s over.

  22. TRA Director Hill defends Pat Robertson’s racist ‘1804 Haitian pact with Satan’ rants×5041

    Radio evangelist and Tennessee Regulatory Authority Director
    Kenneth C. Hill
    The Matthew Hill Show 01/14/2010 – Guest host

    Tennessee Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey’s newly confirmed TRA Director Hill recently utilized his appearance on his older son’s (Tennessee State Rep. Matthew Hill) “The Matthew Hill Show” pod cast to defend televangelist Pat Robertson’s racist ‘1804 Haitian pact with Satan’ rants with “editorialized” comments by the Sydney Morning Herald pertaining to the recent Haiti earthquakes attributed to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    Click on the “The Matthew Hill Show” pod cast link above to listen to TRA Director Hill’s Haiti comments!

    No surprise here that the Northeast Tennessee radio evangelist and TRA Director Hill did not even bother to quote the Clinton (or like wise, the Obama) Haiti earthquake comments in the full context as found on U.S. government web sites:

    (more at URL)

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