If there is anything approaching an up side to the awful devastation that’s taken place in Haiti this week, it’s the sheer outpouring of aid and assistance coming from all over the world. It’s a reminder that most people when confronted with human tragedy will step up and help.
The down side is that some will choose to behave like complete douchenozzles.
Case in point one.
Actually, Pat. Not a true story. From Juan Cole’s blog “Informed Comment”.
So what in the world is Pat Robertson talking about? Presumably he is referring to the Haitian Revolution of the 1790s through independence in 1804. The latter part of the revolution was against Napoleon Bonaparte, not against his nephew Napoleon III (r. as emperor 1852-1870). So Robertson was off by a mere 50 or 60 years.
One of the [pdf, p. 223] first major events of the Haitian revolution unfolded thusly: “In 1791 Boukman Dutty, a Vodou priest and one of the leaders of the first wave of slave uprisings in the North of Haiti, led a ceremony in the now-famous Bois-Caïman that launched the revolution and inspired slave revolutionaries to begin destroying plantations.” The ceremony allegedly involved the sacrifice of a pig and use of pig blood and a sermon that invoked the good God of African religion to give the slaves liberty and condemned the evil God of the white slave-owners. It has been argued that this event has been mythologized in subsequent Haitian history-writing.
The slave revolts informed by voudoun, however, were only one of a number of rebellions in the 1790s. An influence was felt among intellectuals of French Deism and anticlericalism and the privileges of the Catholic Church were abolished. In the north of the country, mass stopped being said.
But revolutionary leader Toussaint L’Ouverture restored the privileges of the Church in in 1800. Subsequent cultural and political struggles after independence in 1804 (which was accompanied by a massacre or expulsion of French whites after Napoleon’s invasion force was defeated, causing an exodus of Catholic priests) again constrained the Church, though a concordat was reached in 1860.
In short, to Pat Robertson, the use of local religious customs against their white colonial masters equal “Deal with the Devil”. (Sidebar, Mr. Cole’s blog is also an excellent resource for information on our current issues with the Middle East. You can find him freshly added to the blog list on the right.)
Case in point the second. Rush Limbaugh.
LIMBAUGH: Yes, I think in the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentlemen — in the words of Rahm Emanuel, we have another crisis simply too good to waste. This will play right into Obama’s hands — humanitarian, compassionate. They’ll use this to burnish their — shall we say — credibility with the black community, in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community, in this country. It’s made-to-order for ‘em. That’s why he couldn’t wait to get out there. Could not wait to get out there.
It should also be noted that no point during his show (According to the Media Matters for America’s Limbaugh Wire for that show.) did Limbaugh ask his viewers to send money to Haiti. In fact, he even discouraged it!
Later in the show, Rush couldn’t resist returning to the topic one last time — this time to express sympathy for impoverished people whose lives have been devastated? Nope, it was to discourage American citizens from making donations to help Haiti, particularly through the White House website (which, by the way, is not taking money but providing links to the Red Cross and other organizations):
LIMBAUGH: Would you trust the money’s gonna go to Haiti?
LIMBAUGH: But would you trust that your name is gonna end up on the mailing list for the Obama people to start asking you for campaign donations for him and other causes?
LIMBAUGH: Absolutely right.
CALLER: That’s the point.
LIMBAUGH: Besides, we’ve already donated to Haiti. It’s called the U.S. income tax.
Thus proving that Rush Limbaugh will never have to be worried that people will think he’s trying to burnish his credibility with the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community.
The third and possibly the worst of the bunch, a Tea Bagger petition demanding that no public funds are used for aid for Haiti.
The main reason is simple: those funds are not the U.S. government’s to begin with. Any money that the U.S. government would give would have been stolen – under threat of force – from U.S. citizens.
Further, any donations to Haiti will only serve as a “moral hazard”, in effect underwriting their bad choices. Haiti had some of the highest tax rates in the Western Hemisphere, hampering the natural innovation of its citizens and making it difficult for corporations – today’s engine of prosperity – to operate in that country. Their rules and regulations were among the most onerous as well, preventing true innovation to occur. Without such onerous rules and high taxation, Haiti could have been a thriving commercial center able to better withstand the earthquake and its aftermath.
By giving money, we will prevent Haitian citizens from rising up in their own Tea Party Revolution and taking their country back from the Marxists.
Yes, the Haitian public should have the right to create badly spelled signs that compare their leaders to Hitler.
Let’s get something straight here, folks. The Haitian people are not Satanists nor are they a racial club to be used to beat Obama with nor are they a petri dish in which to grow fresh libertarians. They are a nation of fellow humans who’s country has been pancaked. And the fact that the nations of the world are banding together to help them is nothing less than an absolute good.
Because, come the end of the day. Decency will win out over bigotry, provincialism and selfishness. It has to.