To the editor,
While thousands of Haitians struggle to deal with an incomprehensible disaster, the racist right’s Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O’Reilly leap at the opportunity to exploit it. Robertson claims that the earthquake is God’s punishment for a “’pact with the Devil’ Haitian people made in order to defeat French colonizers in the 19th century.” "They said, 'We will serve you if you'll get us free from the French.' "True story. And the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal,' …"Ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after another." A 700 Club “clarification” reassures its audience that Haiti is “cursed.” The remark was roundly condemned by Christians and non-Christians, but that’s not the point.
The point is that from within the racist fundamentalism that IS the Christian right, this claim makes perfect sense. Once reason is replaced by violent religious mythology, anything, no matter how cruel and absurd, goes.
Will Sarah Palin, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, or Brit Hume forcefully condemn this deluded rant? Call to boycott 700 Club sponsors? Don’t hold your breath.
Then there’s Limbaugh who can’t resist an opportunity to attack Obama, and he’s willing to use injured, dying, and dead people to do it. In response to the president’s pledge of aid, Limbaugh accuses Obama of “apologizing for the American people.” In response to being corrected about Venezuela’s dispatch of aid workers, Limbaugh says that they can’t wait to leave Chavez’s socialist regime—tacitly identifying Obama with Chavez.
What he says next, however, takes the cake. Considering why Haiti’s poverty remains so entrenched, Limbaugh responds (referring to the island as “cruise-ship stop”) that it’s because of “Communism,” claiming that aid to Haiti is effectively a “Communist” strategy of the Obama administration to further Obama’s “Communist” goals. He accuses the president of viewing the disaster as a “crisis too good to waste,” an opportunity to get closer to “light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks.” Really. Any fair-minded person MUST wonder how this ass stays on the air.
Answer: “Dittoheads”: Bigots whose vision of the world is armed white men defending their women and children against the “Other.”
Bill O’Reilly, however, wins the prize for the most tasteless use of others to advance his anti-liberal agenda. In his 1/13 Talking Points Memo he claims that “[t]he problem with Haiti is massive corruption. The nation could be a tourist Mecca …No matter how much charity is given, no matter how many good intentions there are, Haiti will remain chaotic until discipline is imposed.”
In other words, what’s wrong with Haiti is that it enjoys too little corporate exploitation of a people who could be working to turn their island nation into a tourist paradise for wealthy Westerners like O’Reilly, a people who would, in other words, be benefitted by becoming subservient (say, like Atlantic City) to us.
What’s wrong isn’t too much corporate exploitation of those who use-up Haiti’s resources and then leave. No, it’s too little.
What’s wrong is that Haiti’s people need “discipline,” namely the discipline we (white wealthy) Westerners are in a position to “impose.”
This piece of racist trash could have come right out of a pre-Civil War defense of slavery. Robertson insists that Haiti will only be saved by soliciting the Christian god for forgiveness, Limbaugh and O’Reilly by soliciting the capitalist god for investors.
Trouble is, it’s all the same god—the one that allows “brown” people to die as an example of human sin. Whether a pact with Satan or a run with “Communists,” such a “god” deserves no patronage, and his followers should be ashamed.
Wendy Lynne Lee