The Great Haitian Earthquake of 2010 is the fault of the people of Haiti, according to Pat Robertson, who frequently plays blame-the-victim as a matter of course. He explains it very logically (in his mind): the people of Haiti, when subject to French colonial rule under Napoleon, "made a pact with the Devil," promising that if the Devil would help them to throw out the French, they would serve him in the future.
Robertson, by the way, seems to have mistaken the date of the original Haitian slave revolt, and then confused Napoleon Bonaparte for Napoleon 3rd (possibly Pat confused the Haitian revolt with the Mexican Revolution, who knows), but Pat is convinced that all of Haiti's subsequent problems and its grinding poverty are punishment by God for this pact with the Devil. His source for the story is simply saying "it's true." I wonder, did the eighteenth century Haitian slaves perhaps beseech their old West African pagan god Voudon for help against the mighty French, and is this the real source for Pat's new myth? In any case, he says he believes that "something good may come from all this" however, if the Haitians turn back to God. That is, to Pat Robertson's version of God, obviously---- I wonder what he thinks of the collapse of various Catholic Churches in Port au Prince, and of Catholic schools, and, no doubt of various Protestant missions thereabouts. Will Pat send missionaries from Liberty College to convert the devil-pact's descendants?
Pat does raise one good question, also noted by other observers: on the Island of Hispaniola there are two countries, Haiti and Santo Domingo; the former is a de-forested, poverty-stricken basket case, the latter has preserved much of its forests and has a reasonably prosperous tourist-driven economy, providing quite a contrast.... Why? Diamond in his book Collapse addressed this very question. Basically, he decided that a rather benevolent dictator, Vasquez, imposed his will on Santo Domingo, preventing deforestation and the stripping of the island's forests and minerals by foreign (mostly American) big businesses. He was deposed by Trujillo, whose iron-fisted fascism created unusual stability, and whose business connections ended up raising the standard of living.... it is, however, doubtful that Trujillo made a pact with either Heaven or Hell to accomplish any of this (sorry, Pat).
What troubles me here is not just the self-righteous approval of catastrophe, or Robertson's remarkable ability to garner publicity with his absurd pretensions, but the fact that not just Robertson but Robertson's student, Bob McDonnell (the new Governor of Virginia), much of the Republican Party itself, as well as the Tea Party fringe, base their mental processes on such magical thinking. Their version of "cause and effect" amounts to positing a vindictive super natural agency which directly punishes human beings for failure to worship the appointed god properly---- and this is their guiding principle for government. What kind of decisions will such a mind set impose on the rest of us?
Blue Commonwealth is a community forum for the discussion of political issues of interest to Virginians.
The opinions expressed by users of this website do not necessarily reflect the views of Blue Commonwealth or its editors.