Pat Robertson has a history of blaming the victims; as I recall, he said that the 9/11 attacks were caused by "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians" - not to mention the ACLU and People for the American Way. Funny, I thought it was because Osama bin Laden was pissed about American troops in Saudi Arabia.
Today, though, he chooses to blame the recent disastrous earthquake in Haiti on a "pact with the devil" that the Haitians made two hundred years ago, to get out from under "the heel of the French. You know, Napoleon III and whatever." This, he says, is why Haiti has always been poor, and why it has just been devastated by a 7.0 earthquake. The Devil did it.
As a historian and a scientist (amateur but quite serious in both), I hardly know where to start. Let's start with the history. Robertson has the wrong damn Napoleon; he has no idea what the history even is. Napoleon III ascended the throne of France in December 1852, 49 years after Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared Haiti a free republic (Jan. 1, 1804). The "Napoleon" in charge at the time of Haitian independence was Napoleon III's uncle, the original and only "Napoleon."
Now the science. Haiti is located at the junction of two tectonic plates, the North American plate and the Caribbean plate. There isn't as much action there as there is along the West Coast, because the Caribbean plate is relatively small compared to the North American plate; but it's a strike-slip fault, just like the San Andreas Fault. It hadn't had any serious movement since the 18th century, but we understand why this happened, and the Devil had nothing to do with it. Haiti was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
But Pat Robertson chooses to inform the world, during a broadcast asking for disaster relief, that the Haitians sold their souls to the devil in exchange for freedom from the French. They need to have "a great turning to God," he says. Somewhere in the afterlife, if there is an afterlife, I hope he meets the spirits of the men who bought Haitian independence with their blood. I'd like to hear what Toussaint L'Ouverture has to say to this.
In the meantime, I guess we have to put up with him; he owns his own television network, so we can't shut him up. But I want everyone who calls himself a Christian to look at Haiti, listen to Pat Robertson on the subject, and ask seriously: is this the man I want speaking for me? And if it isn't, why haven't we heard from you, reproaching him?