This thing, what is it in itself, in its own constitution? What is its substance and material? And what its causal nature (or form)? And what is it doing in the world? And how long does it subsist?
What then is Pat Robertson?
I was actually going to post something light about this Harry Reid, Barack Obama, "negro" dust-up, until this story found itself on my radar. It necessitates me putting on the brass knuckles for a second and offering some real talk on Pat Robertson's most befouled commentary.
Unfiltered thought number one: What do we make of that nominally "black" woman sitting next to Robertson as she nods in agreement? Who is this hander kerchief head, self-hating, cum dumpster for that gangbang of vile white supremacist invocation of Godly insight that Robertson verbally ejaculated across the airwaves sitting next to Roberston? And yes, you did just read that sentence correctly.
What is her modus operandi? Is she enabler or victim? Is slave catcher too kind a moniker for Robertson's human prop?
Unfiltered thought number two: are there still kindly old black and brown ladies who while living on fixed incomes, somehow find money each week to donate to The 700 Club? Are they oblivious to Pat Robertson's politics? How could any decent human being support his endeavors? A more general question: Am I the only one whose first instinct is to run for the hills the minute anyone starts suggesting they have a privileged insight into the word of God?
Unfiltered thought number three: Where are the calls for the Right and Republicans at large to disown Pat Robertson? We know there is a double standard: McCain got a pass for his close association with noted anti-Semite John Hagee, while Obama was raked over the coals for his relationship with Reverend Wright. Imagine for a moment if a Democrat had amongst his or her core constituency a Pat Robertson, someone who on national television justified human suffering of the magnitude of Katrina (and now Haiti) through an appeal to Biblical prophecy? One can only imagine the media circus and the clarion calls of guilty by association that would erupt from Fox News and the Right-wing echo chamber.
Pat Robertson's vile suggestion that the poor people of Haiti "deserve" to suffer because they "rejected God" by rebelling against French domination is stunning. In this logic, Toussaint L'Overture, a freedom fighter and democratic revolutionary who liberated an entire people from the bondage of chattel servitude, is by extension a demonic force that damned a people to suffer from a natural calamity. Wow.
I am not surprised, for anything that Pat Robertson does or says is ever a surprise. As one in a long line of segregationists, in years past Pat would likely have worn a Klan robe to the local meeting on Friday, his finest suit to a lynching on Saturday, and then sat in pious obedience in his church pew on Sunday. Robertson's particular brand of faith also counseled slaves to be obedient and their masters to be just in their "natural" rule. In total, Robertson's religion segregated Sunday, found biblical justification for Jim Crow, and imagined a White Heaven where the natural order of things extended even into the afterlife.
In thinking through Robertson's proclamations of faith, I am fond of Chris Hitchens' pithy quote that "religion ruins everything" because it captures my secular humanist creed. Those words also speak to my instinct that religion is more often than not a force for ill rather than good. However, I would like to offer an olive branch of conciliation to Pat Robertson. In his case, I would like to work within Pat's faith/belief tradition in order to find a fair response to his thoughts on Haiti's suffering.
As a man of "God"--one gifted with "prophetic speech" and "insight"--Robertson must appreciate the ancient wisdom of an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. As a rock for his church community, both real and virtual, Robertson ought to provide an example for his flock. How could he possibly resist offering himself up as an example for the time honored tradition that is Hammurabi's Code?
Pat Robertson, as a fire and brimstone preacher is a bit of a literalist. For him, our bodies are on loan from God. They are not our own to do as we wish. Thus, the body is made a site for redemption and salvation. The body is also a site for punishment. Physical punishment is also (to varying degrees) reserved for heretics and backsliders. Here, prayer is not necessarily enough for the conversion and salvation of these lost souls. Sadly, excoriation may be the only option remaining if we are to save their eternal selves. If we were to turn the tables on Pat Robertson and punish him for the spirit of his words, what would be a suitable comeuppance? What punishments would you suggest as a means to rebalance the scales against the wickedness in his heart?
1. I love the introduction to the Wu-Tang Clan's classic song "Method Man." In the opening to the song, Meth suggests torturing a rival by sewing his butt closed and feeding him until he bursts. Classic and painful. But, a bit messy.
2. Given Pat's propensity to run off at the mouth, The Bride's Scold (or "The Bit" as it was called) is also a fitting punishment, doubly so given how slave owners commonly used this device on their human property:
3. The Pear. This medieval device was reserved for those who committed "sexual transgressions." Given the correlation between holier than now behavior, sexual repression, and "deviant" acts, the Pear would do a great job of leading Pat Robertson to salvation:
4. The Sarlaac Pit. The "Great Pit of Carcoon" aka The Sarlaac killed Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi (at least in the original trilogy). While being digested by the Sarlaac, its victims will know pain beyond belief. If The Sarlaac can take down one of the greatest warriors the galaxy has ever seen, I trust it would find Pat Robertson a tasty treat.