IslandView

JANUARY 15, 2010 6:04AM

Pat Robertson's stupid remark: why we can't ignore it.

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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.

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We need to be challenging these people at every turn. Forcing them to face up to their propoganda and pushing them to defend it as far as they can. This is more than just a battle for our souls, this is a battle for our minds and our wills, and if we do not stand up to the forces of evil that oppose us, we really will become brain slug supported mindless wastoids that The Religious Right want us to be so they can assert their Christian Theocracy on us
You know, about those last two paragraphs, truer words have never been spoken (or written). Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only Christian that remebers that we are supposed to believe that as harshly as we judge we will be judged. (For those who do not know, it's in the Lord's Prayer, which is what amounts to a Christian manifesto). For believers it would do well to be reminded that the gospels state that Jesus himself told his followers that government and religion were separate entities (that is the discussion on whether or not to pay taxes, of all things, I know). Robertson's comments are not only a horrifying example of religious chauvinism, but also, downright racism. Would he have said the same thing if the majority of the Haitian population were white? I doubt it. I would imagine he would say they were being tested, like Job before them. Church leaders complain high and low when government intrudes into their business (for faith and institution are not synonyms), they should have the good grace to afford the same. My beliefs may, one day, make me disagree with government policies, but the fact that I can worship freely is the result of a government conceived with human liberties at its core (at least that's what it says on paper). There is no place for religion in government.
What I find detestable is that Robertson and others who make these kinds of pronouncements are using disasters and tragedies in order to "score points" in whatever theological debate they think they are winning. It's bad enough that people suffer, and then these religious scavengers show up and use that suffering to further their own interests.
Hear here! This comment in but one in a series of such comments -- the same goes for Limbaugh- and needs to be ACTIVELY confronted in a sustained manner. Such discourse has subsequently, lit a match that may portend further incivility to the point of violence (find todays guilty plea by an Arkansas man in a plot to assainate the President and dozens of African-Americans), especially as the country evolves into a "majority-minority" country. If we don't start exposing this, the fate of America may mirror that of South Africa . . . or worse.
Thanks all for your comments. This is an issue that I have discussed before in this blog, and that truly worries me. We need to confront and denounce these types of remarks. The satirist make fun of them, yes, but the rest of us, we need to cease to tolerate them. Like mishima666, remarks like this are an opportunistic stance.
"Our national discourse is stained by religious fundamentalism, and by superstition."

It absolutely is, and it's growing worse all the time. An illustration of that isn't so much that Robertson said what he said; it's that his words hold weight with so many people. This country is sliding backwards in a lot of ways, back to a pre-scientific, pre-Enlightenment condition.
I am, gasp and groan, diving in at the deep end here, once more. I am going to try and be lucid so please bear with me.
Yes, the mentality behind remarks like Robertson made are at best asinine. However, we all need to keep in mind the Christian church not as a whole, but rather the vile despicable aspect of it. They have given us 2000 years of rape, pillage, plunder, genocide, torture and you name it, all in the name of the god they created in their image.

I would ask people to be aware of the Lucifer principle, and not the modern interpretation put on it. Lucifer, literally, bringer of light. Or we can call him by the other popular name, Prometheus. The principle rigidly dictates that until the brainwashed get their heads repeatedly dipped in the rankest poo, they are going to keep on being mindless sheep. The most profound of the wise has pointed the true paths down through the ages but the sheep ignore them.

Far more effective is when one of their own, a leader like Robertson, extols some foul BS in the name of his version of the ecumenical enema. Then a few of the sheep will say to themselves, enough is enough. This, sadly, is far more effective at turning people towards the real truths, the divine natures we all possess within, than all the Mahatma's and Buddhas combined.

And so, we must tolerate the Robertsons, and even learn to appreciate them, for until they spread the darkness enough, the Hitlers and their ilk shall continue to do 'gods work' and the masses will follow blindly.
PS Haitians are black? And all this time I thought they were homo-sapiens.

Being a traditional native American (Sioux) and a Buddhist, read, utter neutral, I'm going to sound real naive for a moment here. Is it really felt Robertson made those remarks partly because of race? Is he really that big a jerk?
@Nanatehay: To the Dark Ages indeed, there is no way of reasoning with this type of mentality!

@The Snark: Well, black people las devils, because of the color of the skin, has been a justification for oppression against them. Book of Genesis 9:20-27 talks about the curse of Ham and how God made him black, and a slave to his brothers, for having disrespected Noah.
The French used superstition against the Haitians. The latter practiced syncretic rituals born out of the mixture of Christianity and the Yoruba religion. The Catholic saints double as Yoruba deities in most cultures of the Caribbean, including mine. The French used this as propaganda against the Haitians in order to portray them as savage devils.
So, at best darker people are superstitious fools who need to be civilized, at worst they are souls in need of saving, or devils themselves.
So, yes, it is also about racism. While race is a social construct (yes, we are all just human) racism is very real, unfortunately.
"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."

I, for one, am thankful this was finally seen for what it is with this Haitian atrocity. Hopefully, for everything we can see, they are not going to have a hand in any policy decisions on that front, as this time it was called out for what it was, despicable.

As for their typical, silent impact to policy making and a general stain to lucid Christianity as a whole, I could not agree with you more. Who I hold the most accountable for this are the sane Christians, the ones who do not buy into this judgmental mindset. I would like to see them have a louder voice, one that counteracts this mind-numbing, over-zealous one and shows that Christianity can be a voice of reason and love. Someone from a position within needs to call these people out for what they are - false prophets.

Very important article Island View - I could not agree with you more. I have long admired the principles of religion but can not stand the delivery of the fringe as well as the right-wing evangelical hold on this nation. It is mind-numbing to me.
@ Sparking. Yes, thank you so much. The problem is that those who are religious, but not fanatics, are not speaking as loud as they should.
Something in a similar vein:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/jan/11/mawkish-maybe-avatar-profound-important
I'm an agnostic humanist, but I cannot deny that there was this Jewish man named Yehoshua who proposed a very interesting concept: loving God above all things, and loving your fellow like yourself. That summarized everything.

Christianity is supposed to be based on such teachings, but the way organized religion has implemented them is pretty iffy at best, with fundamentalist freaks such as Mr. Robertson being the worst of the worst.

We need to purge our society of this fanatical scum, but the tentacles that tie these powerful religious people with corporations, governments, and obscure organizations is too strong to be easily broken, unfortunately.

Maybe the power of social networking and Web 2.0 can undermine some of the damage done and illuminate people on how to be a spiritual person instead of a religious fanatic.

Don't laugh, I know of a particular religious cult that is losing ground really fast thanks to the power of the Internet...