The White House has dismissed as "stupid" comments by evangelist broadcaster Pat Robertson suggesting that quake-struck Haiti was cursed...It's been a while since I've had the privilege of doing a Pat Robertson post, not because he's failed to fail recently, but because unless it rises to the point where the White House feels the need to comment*, I seldom see it. I don't watch TV preachers and never have. And there's hardly a reason to start now.
Mr Robertson, an 80-year-old former presidential candidate, made the comments on Wednesday on his programme, "The 700 Club".
"They said, we will serve you if you will get us free from the French. True story. And so, the devil said, okay it's a deal," the televangelist said during the broadcast.
I am amused that Danny Glover's assertion (at 2:00 and following) that this earthquake is a result of the failure of the Copenhagen Summit did not attract the same lofty attention as did Robertson. But I can't decide if the reason for that is because a) Robertson is blaming the disaster on a far less politically-correct deity than Gaia Politica, or b) everyone already knows Glover is a lunatic. To be honest, I lead toward a), as without a doubt Robertson is a lunatic as well.
UPDATE: That's not to deny that Robertson is onto a real problem. Before Haitian independence in 1804, the nation was a French slave colony and the wealthiest such colony in the Caribbean. 200 years later, it is the poorest nation in the western hemisphere. So what happened? Are they cursed? Other than living in a hurricane zone and atop a fault line, I don't think they are cursed any more than anyone else.
Their major problems are not political**, but cultural. Those problems are essentially a race-based caste system and a voodoo-based religious system, neither of which encourage industry, savings, work, or social order***. They are no better off (and no worse off) than their African cousins in Congo or Benin, nor particularly different than the old Germanic tribes who lived off what they could hunt in the Teutoburg Forest or steal from the Romans. And so long as their culture remains what it is, their island will remain what it is.
Perhaps this disaster will create enough of a jolt to allow a significant break from the past. If not, Haiti will remain poor, depressed, violent, overpopulated, and over-subject to the next natural disaster that comes along. No amount of aid can change a poor nation into a rich one, only internal order and hard work can do so.
* Perhaps we have another beer summit in our future?
** Though they have and have had significant political problems. The existence of a successful republic led by ex-slaves so near the American South created a hostile American foreign policy vis-a-vis Haiti from the very start. That did not cause their nation to fail, but it sure didn't make it any easier for them to resist French, English, and Spanish hostility.
*** Slavery provided these things - thus its prior prosperity - via the whip and at a tremendous human cost. Not only was the native population wiped out completely, the brutality of Caribbean slavery was such that, unlike in the American South, blacks never established families or a self-replacing population under that system. They were worked to death too quickly. Haiti may have been rich, but Haitians have always been miserable.