The banality of evil, coined by Hannah Arendt about Adolf Eichmann, applies not to sociopaths or cartoon moustache twirling villains, but rather ordinary people who accepted the principles of a morally corrupt regime without question and convinced themselves that gassing millions of people and shoving the bodies into ovens was perfectly normal behavior. Even… morally righteous.
But those people are a thing of the past. Could never happen here. People can’t be dragged down into that darkness again. Yet when I listen to Pat Robertson speaking, a shiver of unease slices up my spine. To Pat Robertson, the catastrophe in Haiti is a direct result of the Haitians who made a ‘pact with the devil’ hundreds of years ago to get rid of the French.
Pat Robertson has at best a tenuous grasp of history, or he simply doesn’t like the idea of uppity black folk, or both. For Pat Robertson, the Haitian Revolution had nothing to do with African slaves revolting against one of the most hellish slave colonies ever to have existed, overthrowing their French oppressors and establishing the first black republic in the world. The poverty in Haiti is completely unrelated to the economic blockades and imposed reparations crippling the country for centuries – imposed by God-fearing Christians of Europe and the United States.
No, Pat Robertson apparently believes that Haiti was ‘under the heel of the French, ah, Napoleon the Third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact with the devil. They said, we will serve you if you’ll get us free from the French. True story!’
Why let pesky facts such as Napoleon the Third wasn’t even born until four years after the Haitian Revolution and the establishment of an independent Haiti stand in the way of a ‘true story’? He then compounds his demonstration of colossal ignorance and bigotry by a comparison of ‘desperately poor’ Haiti and the Dominican Republic, ‘prosperous, healthy, full of resorts…’ The Spanish colonized the Dominican Republic which tried to gain independence in 1821, but was invaded and occupied by Haitian military for the next twenty three years, and has suffered its own bloody history of tyrannical rulers and political upheaval. But, hey! It’s got resorts on it, the sort favoured by fat, rich, white men with pockets full of viagra.
It would be laughable, if it weren’t so sinister. He’s smart enough to know he’s stepped in the merde big time, and is backpedalling furiously, if somewhat lamely. Well, ya see, Pat was misunderstood, Chris Roslin, Spokesman for CBN on his website is insisting; it’s all because of this guy called Boukman Dutty who presided over a voodoo ceremony at Bois Caiman in 1791, where Haitian slave ‘made a famous pact with the devil in exchange for victory over the French. This history, combined with the horrible state of the country, has led countless scholars and religious figures over the centuries to believe the country is cursed. Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath…’
Oh, Chris. You’re really not helping the man any. ‘Countless scholars?’ Name one. Preferably one who’s graduated from somewhere a bit more highly regarded for intellectual rigour and impartiality than Regent University, which apparently doesn’t actually have a History department. But of course, Pat Robertson’s perception of voodoo has its basis more in old Boris Karloff films than any comprehensive anthropological studies. Which apparently Regent doesn’t offer, either. (Regent does offer an MBA specializing in marketing and business programmes as well as animation, cinema-television, theatre and media studies along with its primary theological degrees. None of these, however, would I consider as a basis of expertise in history for those ‘countless’ scholars). But then, this is a man who believes yoga is evil. Yup, you read that correctly – yoga.
Our Kid has written an excellent post on her academic blog, which goes into far more detail of the ambulatory ignorant ignominy that is Pat Robertson. At the risk of being accused of nepotism, check it out anyway – it’s a good compendium of Robertson’s demented declarations over the years – from his blaming 9/11 on pagans, feminists, the ACLU, and homosexuals who made God mad. Everyone except Muslim terrorists using planes as a political method to protest American policy in the Middle East. Katrina was the fault of abortionists and Ellen Degeneres. Not a hurricane. Sharon’s stroke and Rabin’s assassination, that’s the UN and Europe’s fault for arguing with Israel, which for some reason pissed off God… the logic behind I’m starting to have trouble following; you’d think a hurricane or an earthquake would knock over the UN building if God were that cheesed off.
And the just penalty for those of any religion except the true word of God According To Pat Robertson? Death.
Now, the rest of it I can laugh about, it’s too ludicrous to take too seriously. But we’ve seen what happens when those with the ear of the gullible and the fanatic preach intolerance. And those who pray for death as a fitting punishment for those of any religion but the ‘true faith’ cannot stand back and claim their hands are clean and their conscience clear. They cannot preach bigotry and fanaticism and buy their way out with ‘humanitarian aid’ for the suffering – aid shackled to condemnation is not ‘humanitarian.’ They cannot be excused for being ‘delusional’ or ‘uncompromising’ or ‘pious’ or ‘misunderstood.’ Religion is not an excuse to give up one’s humanity, any more than National Socialism was. Those who preach death and intolerance in the name of God – anybody’s God – are no better than those who egged on the suicide terrorists who slammed planes full of innocent people into buildings.
Haiti has been devastated by an earthquake. Not the hand the God, not the wrath the devil. New Zealand also lives in an earthquake zone – it could have been us instead. It could have California. It could have been Japan. It could have been Iran. It could have been anyone. That’s the thing about earthquakes – it’s just a disinterested shifting of geological tectonic plates that doesn’t give a damn who’s living on the fragile crust above.
But I say unto you, verily, we have seen the face of the devil. He’s peering out of the eyes and talking out of the mouth of a banal, old, white guy raking in millions of dollars from the loyal benighted fans of a televangelist talk show and preaching hatred and bigotry and death and calling it God’s love.
If the devil exists, he’s not in Haiti.