Just plain evil. Any time anything bad happens anywhere, Pat Robertson is right there with a "sin" to blame it on -- even if he has to make it up:
The Rev. Pat Robertson is offering his own absurd explanation for why a quake hit Haiti: Many years ago, the island's people "swore a pact to the the devil."
"Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it," the controversial televangelist said during an interview Wednesday on the Christian Broadcasting Network.
"They were under the heel of the French ... and they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French'."
Robertson continued: "True story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' They kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other."
Robertson went on to note that though Haiti shares the same island with the Dominican Republic, it remains desperately poor while its neighbor is "prosperous, healthy and full of resorts."
"[Haitians] need to have a great turning to God, and out of this tragedy, I'm optimistic something good may come," Robertson said.
The thing is, there never was any "deal with the devil" - at least, not the way Pat would lead you to believe. This is from Jean R. Gelin, Ph.D, a Haitian Christian:
For quite some time now, several articles on the Internet have mentioned the existence of an iron pig statue in Port-au-Prince as a monument to commemorate Haiti’s so-called pact with the devil through Vodou. The statue would be in remembrance of a pig that was killed during the gathering by the African slaves. In an effort to know more about that rumor, I contacted several authors about the exact location of the pig statue that’s incidentally nowhere to be found in the country. Their answer was complete silence, a simple apology, or just the removal of the reference from their texts.
One writer was grateful to me for pointing out the inaccuracy of her article, and she made the necessary adjustment. But I am sure that the same allusion can be found somewhere in other published pieces of writing and documents. The worst part of the whole picture is that the story is believed by many sincere Christians in America and around the world; and not only do they believe it, they also spread it as fact. The tragedy of our age is that repeated lies are often mistaken for the truth, especially when repeated long enough.
But Maggie Koerth-Baker on Boing Boing finds out Haiti's real deal with the devil:
Pat Robertson thinks that Haiti is poverty stricken (and earthquake-stricken) because the country made a deal with Satan to help them overthrow the French.
Back in May, the Times Online provided some slightly better insight into Haiti's past. Beyond a vague assumption that Imperialism had probably screwed Haiti somehow, I didn't know much about the country's history. Reading this story has been nothing short of nauseating.
Summary: Haiti was forced to pay France for its freedom. When they couldn't afford the ransom, France (and other countries, including the United States) helpfully offered high-interest loans. By 1900, 80% of Haiti's annual budget went to paying off its "reparation" debt. They didn't make the last payment until 1947. Just 10 years later, dictator François Duvalier took over the country and promptly bankrupted it, taking out more high-interest loans to pay for his corrupt lifestyle. The Duvalier family, with the blind-eye financial assistance of Western countries, killed 10s of thousands of Haitians, until the Haitian people overthrew them in 1986. Today, Haiti is still paying off the debt of an oppressive dictator no one would help them get rid of for 30 years.
The rest of the world refuses to forgive this debt.
So, in a way, maybe Robertson is right. Haiti is caught in a deal with the devil, and the devil is us.
Update: mgfarrelly points out another thing I didn't know—the U.S. Congress is currently considering a bill called The Jubilee Act for Responsible Lending and Expanded Debt Cancellation. Part of what this bill would do is help countries like Haiti get their debt canceled, without making that cancellation conditional on things like closing down free schools or raising the cost of fresh water. May be a good time to contact your representatives about about this bi-partisan measure.
Sounds like a useful thing to do to help Haiti. Call your Congress critter and tell them you support the Jubilee Act.