I was horrified to hear about the devastating earthquake that hit just outside Port-au-Prince, Haiti. If ever there was a country that has had a terrible lot in life, it’s Haiti or, as my wife succinctly put it, “Haiti! Oh, God! If a direct portal to Hell were to open on Earth, it would probably open in Haiti.”
The blogosphere is stepping forward and gathering up as much useful information as possible for those who would like to help. Here’s a page from Dr. Dawg. The work here crosses the political spectrum, and reflects the seriousness of the situation, and the basic compassion of most human beings.
Unfortunately, you can’t really count Pat Robertson among them. In tackling the age-old problem of suffering, this far-right televangelist decided to skip right over centuries of theological thought and blame the victims:
“Something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it,” he said on Christian Broadcasting Network’s “The 700 Club.” “They were under the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III, or whatever. 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. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it’s a deal.”
Robertson said that “ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other” and he contrasted Haiti with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic.
Mind you, this is nothing new for Mr. Robertson. After all, he was the one who blamed secular Americans for 9/11 and linked Hurricane Katrina to God’s punishment for abortion. And, sadly, he’s not alone.
Pat Robertson and his ilk are a perpetual embarrassment to Christians everywhere, espousing a brand of our religion which is at odds with the love that God has for his creation, and the love that we ourselves are supposed to emulate. Any God that could be directly responsible for the deaths of innocent individuals in New Orleans, beneath the two towers or this week in Haiti, is not a god worthy of worship. And any individual who would seek to justify the actions of that God by blaming the innocent victims of nature’s wrath is not an individual worthy of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. May God have mercy on Pat Robertson’s soul.
But as Maggie Koerth-Baker over at Boing-Boing notes, Haiti may indeed have made a metaphorical deal with a devil way back. It’s just probably not a devil that Pat Robertson would be particularly comfortable in confronting. I’ll let Maggie have the last word, here:
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 Fran√ßois 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.