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Rising above hurtful remarks by Pat Robertson and Limbaugh

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tragedy often brings out the best in some people. And sometimes, it brings out the worst.

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Please direct your attention to Exhibits A and B, Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh.

No one should be surprised that Robertson invokes God's wrath or Satan's trade-offs when horror hits. Whether it's a hurricane, a terrorist attack or an earthquake, one can be fairly certain that Robertson's Ouija board will point to a supernatural explanation.

Invariably, he blames the victims or some third-party behavior favored by Satan and frowned upon by God. What was behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11? America's moral decay. Hurricane Katrina? Abortion. Haiti's earthquake? A deal with the devil.

"True story," said Robertson on his television program, "The 700 Club." He explained that when Haiti was a French colony, rebels "swore a pact to the devil," saying, "We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.

"And so the devil said . . . ."

Excuse me just a sec while I pause to appreciate this moment. I'm pretty certain this is the first time I've ever quoted Satan. To proceed:

"And so the devil said, 'Okay, it's a deal.' "

Okay? Deal? But of course the devil would be prosaic.

Ever since, Robertson continued, "they [Haitians] have been cursed by one thing after the other."

How is one to interpret such an assertion? Apparently, Robertson was referring to a voodoo ceremony in 1791 that some historians believe was a spark for the revolution. The call to revolt was issued by Dutty Boukman, a voodoo priest and leader of the Maroon slaves. The resulting uprising, which ultimately led to Haiti's independence, claimed the lives of thousands of colonialists and slaves.

For whose side does Robertson imagine God was pulling? The slave owners'? And does he really think that the devil is collecting on his debt by destroying thousands of lives in the earthquake and maiming countless more?

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