The Thing I Don’t Understand About Pat Robertson’s Haiti Comment

I assume you’ve already heard Pat Robertson blame the people of Haiti for the earthquake:

It seems that years ago the Haitians wanted to be free of French colonialists, so they “got together” and swore a nationwide pact with the Devil, and the Devil agreed, saying: “Okay, it’s a deal.” And sure enough, the Devil tricked the French into leaving Haiti. Everything worked out, right? Wrong. This week the Devil sent an earthquake to punish the descendants of the Haitians who made a pact with him years ago. Or maybe God sent the earthquake, to punish the Devil. In any case, Robertson’s point is: it’s bad when nation-states enter into legally binding agreements with Satan.

Let’s set aside whether or not Pat Robertson’s earthquake theory is true (how would I know? I’m not a theologian). My question is: isn’t it a little gauche to propose it the day after the earthquake?

If Pat Robertson’s theory is true and Haitians have only themselves to blame for the earthquake, why not just table that discussion? Maybe for a week. Or a month. Or at least until the death toll is calculated, so you’ll know exactly how much blood is on the hands of those Satan-loving Haitians.

It just seems like Robertson’s theory would be more likely to gain a respectful hearing on, say, the one-year anniversary of the earthquake, rather than the one-day anniversary.

It reminds me of the aftermath of 9/11, when Robertson (with Jerry Falwell) went on TV and blamed the terror attacks on pagans and lesbians and the ACLU:

This was two days after the attacks. And again, maybe Robertson’s theory was correct– maybe God did allow 9/11 because Americans were becoming too secular and weren’t discriminating against gays enough. How would I know? I’m not St. Thomas Aquinas. In fact, since I have no interest in religion, I don’t think it’s my place to weigh in on God’s and/or Satan’s rationales for causing earthquakes and terror attacks. (Or floods or epidemics or the continued good health of certain televangelists for that matter.)

My only point is: If you want people to believe your theory, why not wait until emotions have cooled before proposing it? Trumpeting your theory in the immediate aftermath of the trauma seems a little sadistic– almost as if you enjoy rubbing people’s noses in their own misfortune.