As of this writing, it is estimated that up to 100,000 people are dead. The world mourns the loss of so many people. The United Nations, the U.S., European countries are sending aid as fast as possible. And Pat Robertson's own Operation Blessing will be in Haiti just as they were in Katrina. Of course, Operation Blessing was followed by Pat Robertson's own special gift of approx. 40,000 bibles. While this didn't compare to the late Jerry Falwell's gift of 600,000 New Testament tracts to Muslim and Hindu survivors of the eastern tsunami, Robertson's effort was noted - as a rather insulting gesture by people who needed food for their stomachs even more than food for their souls.
I used to call Falwell and Robertson God's Ambulance Chasers: they seemed to relish disasters. They discovered during the Age of AIDS that capitalizing on "God's curses" was good business. People flocked to help their church save them from the onslaught of the twentieth century's Black Death. They righteously evicted sick and dying people from their homes and their lives. After 9/11, they pointed fingers at their chosen outcasts and told their flocks who the "real" culprits were.
Jerry Falwell would be proud of Robertson keeping up the tradition of bigotry with blame, followed by a condescending compassion.
During all the chaos that has followed the Haitian crisis, has anyone thought to point out to Robertson that his knowledge of history is seriously flawed? The revolution against the French took place well before Napoleon III. In fact, it happened before Napolean I. And it was primarily a slave rebellion:
The native leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines, long an ally of Toussaint L'ouverture, defeated the French troops led by Donatien-Marie-Joseph de Vimeur, vicomte de Rochambeau at the Battle of Vertières. At the end of the double battle for emancipation and independence, former slaves proclaimed the independence of Saint-Domingue on 1 January 1804, declaring the new nation as Haiti, honoring one of the indigenous Taíno names for the island. It is the only nation born of a slave revolt.
Michael B. Keegan, president of People For the American Way, issued the following statement:
"Pat Robertson's comments about the victims of this earthquake are reprehensible. Unfortunately, they fit right in with his history of mean spirited attacks accusing his opponents of causing natural disasters and terrorism. To blame the victims of this disaster for what they've been through is appalling. Regrettably, Pat Robertson can't be written off as an eccentric aberration of the right-wing-he's still a leading figure in the conservative movement.
"At a time when our attention should be focused on helping the victims of this disaster, Robertson's comments are beyond the pale."
So whither will Pat Robertson go to in the next couple of days? Apology? I think not. There will be backpedaling done to be sure, along with a note of good ole Christian persecution thrown in, but that's to be expected. There will be a loud chorus of Christians shouting: "Pat Robertson doesn't speak for us!" but Robertson will pay no heed. He'll ride it out the same way he did when he said Cesar Chavez should be assassinated, Ariel Sharon's stroke was a sign of God's displeasure, Orlando would be hit by a meteor for Disney World's hosting of Gay Day and other inanities.
After all, you can't argue with a man who speaks to God.
* The Haitian Bizango societies are based on a military structure. Their members reveal themselves to fight and wage war. These figures represent the power of the Bizango fighters. Their terrifying appearance preserves the memory of the insurgency of the slaves in the period in which these societies were first formed. Some bear the scars of wounds. The heads are modelled on real human skulls. Ropes and chains keep the powers they possess in check. Fragments of mirrors in their eyes and on their clothes refer to the spirit world, and protect against evil. Despite their static pose, the past blood and fire in which they are drenched is tangible. (Flickr: Jeremy Bergin)