Pat Robertson: one neuron shy of a synapse
Pat Robertson has for years been a parody of Billy Graham—the evil twin, or the stupid cousin, or spiteful understudy. Nothing he does should surprise me, but he has this incredible ability to do so. The latest, of course, is his statement that the reason Haiti got nailed with an earthquake that devastated the country and killed thousands, is because of a “pact with the Devil.”
There are plenty of other folks on the net being hopelessly outraged by Pat’s grotesque insensitivity. This is the moral equivalent of telling a rape victim that she deserved it because of the way she dresses. You’ll recall that New Orleans, according to Pat, deserved to be ravished by Katrina because the city had agreed to host a gay convention. It’s become a common chorus with Pat. Once there’s a new disaster, Pat just adds another verse to the song.
The formula is simple: “[Victim] deserved the [disaster] because of an act of [moral turpitude] committed [in the past or to be committed in the near future.]” “They brought it on themselves,” really just summarizes it safely, and can be said with that sad resignation which suggests it was preventable had they only decided they loved Jesus enough.
Of course, one can ask the philosophical question, “Why would God do this to believers?” because we all know that among the thousands of dead, there will be ample representation of Christians. This question will be answered in one of two ways. First: “Had they done more to bring Christianity to their home, this would not have happened.” (Brilliantly non-falsifiable, and great at reinforcing victimization.) Second: “We can’t know the mind of God.” (No, except when you impart motives to Him.)
And the truly annoying thing about all this is that Pat Robertson will be forgiven. Even in making his statement about Haiti, he immediately suggests we pray for the victims; thereby doing the right thing and allowing folks to forgive his heartlessness. In the same way folks forget and forgive the fact that Pat Robertson and his wife engaged in pre-marital sex, producing a child. They forget that Pat Roberson invested in mining interests in Liberia, supporting one of the most repressive dictators in Africa in a regime that has committed countless horrors. They forget all the other times that Pat has shot his mouth off in an equally ridiculous manner.
Here’s the ultimate hypocrisy: this society is more than happy to take the antics of a religious minority (extreme fundamentalist Muslims) and generalize it to a benign population; and yet we don’t do that with men like Pat Roberson (equally fundamentalist, equally rich, equally out of touch). He’s a fornicator who has advocated assassination of foreign leaders and invests money with murderers, yet we don’t attribute those moral failings to all other Christians. Ted Haggard and Paul Crouch have engaged in sexual contact with men, but we don’t assume all Christian leaders are homosexuals. Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker had extra-marital affairs, but we don’t assume that all Christian leaders are unfaithful to their spouses.
Obviously someone like Pat Robertson should be ignored. The problem is that he won’t be ignored. And for those of us who do not support hateful and thoughtless sentiments such that he offers do ourselves, our nation, humanity and the truth a great injury by remaining silent. In silence, we are complicit in his action. Don’t be silent. Let folks know that this sort of nonsense isn’t part of being an American, a Christian or a human being.