Pat Robertson can’t be more stupid, can he? Everyone has made fun of his remark about Haiti's deal with the devil and subsequent curse. He has being ridiculed and mocked. Yet, the joke is on us.
In this nation, fundamentalism has spread like a viral wart and it has made us look ugly for too long, in the eyes of the world. The problem is that our unsightliness is not just on the surface, it runs down to our core; our national discourse is affected by this disease as well.
Pat Robertson’s remark about Haiti should not be considered the words of an ignorant, senile old man. This is a discourse disseminated along many churches and communities around the United States, and one that is used to legislate and establish policy right now. It is one that justifies the growing economic disparity among our citizens, the stalling of the health care reform, and the hesitancy of some to come to the aid of others in this nation.
Let’s talk about Hurricane Katrina. In its aftermath in New Orleans, several religious leaders made similar remarks to those of Robertson’s on Haiti. From Catholic Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner, to Rev. Dwight McKissic, the senior pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas, many religious “leaders” proclaimed God’s retribution against New Orleans for its sinful ways. And, were these leaders shamed, reprimanded, or removed from the pastoral duties? Well, the Pope promoted Rev. Wagner last year.
Kanye West remarked, then, that Bush did not care about black people, because of the slow response of the federal government. Mr. Bush intentions or lack of action may have had more to do to his Christian beliefs. The born again ex president, who prayed before every White House staff meeting, may have been giving God some time to do his work (how can we forget his dear mom's words too.)
Our health care reform struggle, since that is what it has been, is plagued by fundamentalist discourse. Abortion, euthanasia, and the not so subtle idea that some people should not be given a free ride, have been topics of heated argument among our legislators. Why is there a provision against paying for abortion with federal money? Isn’t it legal? We are a secular state. There is separation of church and state in this nation.
Our national discourse is stained by religious fundamentalism, and by superstition. Anyone who can take seriously an 18th C French propaganda to depict the Haitian revolutionaries as savage idolaters is a superstitious fool. Yet we, as citizens, have allowed these fools to interfere with our politics, to disrupt governance, and to prevent us to recover from this recession/depression; they have hijacked our freedom of action and speech. And we let them, in the spirit of tolerance.
We should not tolerate them anymore. We cannot ignore stupidity such as that of Pat Robertson. It will not go away. We cannot let the religious beliefs of a group dominate the political decisions of all. We need to denounce, confront and reject these actions and remarks, seriously. We need to call them for what they are, hate speech, and we need to purge them out of our national discourse.