Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pat Robertson, Cancer on Society

Conservative wingnuts have outdone themselves today.  I cannot think of a sufficiently repugnant metaphor to adequately describe Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson.  Pustulent genital sores comes close.  (Apologies to those with weak stomachs.)

On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh painted the President as being pleased about the Haiti earthquake, as it provides Obama an opportunity to “burnish [his] credibility with the black community – both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community – in this country.”  I’m not sure I even understand that.  First, are the “light-skinned” and “dark-skinned” black communities really discrete demographics?  Who, besides racists, tracks that sort of distinction.  Scratch that.  Who, besides racists, is even able to define that sort of distinction?  I guess the implication Rush tried to make is that because 95% of Haiti’s population is black, the U.S. giving aid will be seen as somehow bolstering Obama’s black cred.  Or something.  I mean, I’m confused, seeing as how his black cred comes from, you know, being black.

But isn’t giving disaster relief aid simply the human thing to do?  It’s what we did, as a nation, after the tsunami, after Katrina, and so on.  Haiti had already been the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, before the earthquake essentially destroyed what infrastructure it had.  I’m waiting to read reports on how Haiti will even be able to attempt to rebuild.  So, in light of all that, clearly light-skinned and dark-skinned African American credibility motivates Obama to send aid, rather than normal compassion.

But Limbaugh couldn’t settle for just one avenue of attack.  He also used the Haiti earthquake to – in a move that must have elicited a blubbering girly squee from Glenn Beck – tie Obama back to Communism again.  He predicted that President Obama will try to reinstate Aristide’s communist regime in order to rebuild Haiti.  Limbaugh failed to summon a scrap of logic to support the argument, so I don’t even know what to do with it.

Instead, I’ll pick up my jaw and move on to the day’s true villain:  Pat Robertson.  On today’s broadcast of the 700 Club, Robertson baldly stated that the Haitian people brought this earthquake on themselves.  I’d love to see his sources, but according to him, the Haitians who successfully revolted against France to gain independence, succeeded because they made a literal pact with the Devil.  As a result, Robertson claimed that Haiti has been cursed ever since.  His logic?  That the Dominican Republic, the nation occupying the other half of the island on which Haiti resides, is prosperous.  Never mind that the Dominican Republic has sugar, coffee, tobacco, and tourist industries, while the French had stripped Haiti of its natural resources.  (Two thirds of the Haitian population survives by subsistence farming.)  Clearly, their deal with Satan has cursed them to bad luck.

The silver lining?  That this earthquake gives Haitians an opportunity to turn back to God.  Ah, right.  At least he’s consistent.  This is the man, remember, who claimed that hurricane Katrina was an act of God, smiting us for our abortion policies.  (Although, I never understood why God would hit New Orleans instead of the liberal elitist northeast.)  Fun fact:  he also once guaranteed that the world would end in 1982.[1]

As you dig into Robertson’s past hijinx, you find more disturbing material.  For instance, he thinks that a secret organization of Jewish bankers and freemasons rules the world, pulling some sort of international puppet strings.  In his 1991 book, The New World Order, he classifies Communism as the work of German-Jewish intellectuals.  One of his special targets is Communism, and he even claims that government power brokers were aligning the US with the Soviet Union. Of course, the puppet master behind the puppet masters is Satan, who has been maneuvering world leaders toward a one-world government.

What with his crackpot conspiracy theories and his communism phobia, Robertson is beginning to remind me a lot of Glenn Beck.  Neither feels an obligation to support an argument with either reputable sources or logic, and both seem unreasonably excited by ridiculous conspiracy theories, especially if they involve communists.  And, they’re both cultists.  I’ve written elsewhere about why I think Glenn Beck could legitimately be classified as a cultist, but I doubt anyone would disagree with that assessment leveled at Pat Robertson.  The difference, of course, is that Robertson’s cult is a socially accepted evangelical Christian fundamentalism.

But these similarities makes me wonder if the notions espoused by both men are all merely cyclical.  An article by Ephraim Radner, written in 1995 about The New World Order, points out three cyclical movements that, when they revolved back into view in the early 1990s behind Pat Robertson, served as tent poles for the Illuminati Thesis (Robertson’s conspiracy of choice): populism, isolationism, and anti-intellectualism. Anyone who has watched even a small portion of Glenn Beck’s commentary material instantly knows that these three themes constitute the core of his shtick.

If I were to take a silver lining out of all this, it is that perhaps now that Pat Robertson has passed the torch of crazy to Glenn Beck, perhaps he will retire from public view.  Since he seems unable to cease spouting divisive, inane nonsense, I hope he will at least stop doing it in public.  While I am hopeful that education and common sense are the simple cure for this brand of utter idiocy, I remain concerned and ignorant about what really drives this cycle of ideas.  So in the meantime, Pat, please, get the hell off the stage.

1.  Paul Boyer, When Time Shall Be No More, 138 (1992), available here.

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