Posts tagged Napoleon

Pat Robertson Vs. The Past and Human Decency

In which Pat Robertson reaches the bottom of his own personal barrel, and starts digging:

And you know, Christy, something happened a long time ago in Haiti, and people might not want to talk about it, they were under the heel of the French, uh, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever, and they got together and swore a pact to the devil, they said, we will serve you, if you get us free from the Prince, true story. And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free, and ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor… the Island of Hispaniola is one island cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is, is, prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc. Haiti is in desperate poverty, same Islands, uh, they need to have, and we need to pray for them, a great turning to God. And out of this tragedy, I’m optimistic something good may come, …

I know that it’s always easy to blame the victim, and that every mass grave has a silver lining and all, but fuckin’ A, dude, really?

If you’re curious as to when Napoleon III was ruling Haiti, well so am I. But more to point than this sort of dynastic pettifogging is that Pat Robertson believes that the current death and suffering in Haiti is the result of their being cursed, and interprets the second successful anti-imperialist revolution in the history of the Americas, the most successful slave uprising in the history of the world, and the establishment of the world’s first ideologically anti-slavery republic, as a Satanic conspiracy, consecrated in a pact between the Haitian people (collectively?) and the Devil himself.

(For the really curious, the true story that Robertson interprets as being the occasion on which Haitian Revolutionaries somehow sold the entire nation and their posterity to the Devil is probably the Bois Caïman ceremony in August 1791, an African religious ceremony traditionally held to have been led by Boukman Dutty at the beginning of the slave uprisings which became the dominant force in the Haitian Revolution. Of course, in 1791, this had nothing much to do with Napoleon I, let alone Napoleon III. In any case, the prayer traditionally attributed to Boukman actually invokes The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. The notion that the ceremony was a pact with the Devil that promised to turn Haiti over to his domination for 200 years if he would grant worldly success to their rebellion, is a fabrication added by white historians after the fact, as part of their efforts to reinterpret the revolution against race slavery as literally the product of supernatural intervention by the forces of Hell unleashed. In any case, even if that were the deal, it’s supposed to have expired back in 1991.)

For some more lucid commentary on why Haiti faces the permanent state of emergency that it has faced for the past several decades, you might check out this historical overview from the Times of London; the short answer is that Haitian people have been forced, for two centuries now, to labor to pay off iniquitous reparations to their former enslavers and debts contracted, without their permission, by governments that oppressed and killed them. As important as solidarity and relief are in terrible times like these, the only real and lasting solution is not charity, but complete repudiation of these unpayable, nonconsensual, government-inflicted blood debts.

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