Opinion

For MSM, the devil’s in the details of Robertson’s Haiti remark

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Tommy De Seno
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      Tommy De Seno

      Tommy De Seno is a political columnist with the <a href="http://trinews.com/contact.htm">triCityNews</a> in New Jersey, a Fox News Forum Contributor and editor of the blog <a href="http://justifiedright.typepad.com/">Justified Right</a>.

Last week political correctness tried to kill history. No one from the media tried to stop the murder. Instead, most media outlets became willing accomplices to the crime.

When Pat Robertson said the Haitian slave rebels made a pact with the devil to throw off their French enslavers 200 years ago, media liberals drooled, believing they had caught a religious person saying something awful.

Of course there’s one fact media liberals left out of their reports about Pat Robertson’s statement: That it was, you know, true.

How can citing a historical fact possibly make someone like Robertson a bad guy? Is he supposed to ignore the history that happened? Cover it up? Pretend to change it?

Covering up facts isn’t new in the world of journalism, but since Robertson believes in reporting the facts on this story, be they good or bad, soothing or uncomfortable, let’s examine actual Haitian history.

The Haitian slave rebellion was led by a man named Boukman, a physically strong, charismatic figure of Jamaican birth who was also a voodoo priest.

In 1791, Boukman conducted a ceremony to rally the slaves to fight the French. A pig was slaughtered and the participants drank its blood to seal a pact.

The “pact” was with the devil (and to be fair, also to various pagan gods and against the god of their French enslavers). Boukman and his slave followers promised 200 years of allegiance to the devil and pagan gods in exchange for their freedom

After that the fight was on, and the French, if you can believe it, actually surrendered. The slaves were free.

It doesn’t matter whether a media pundit likes or dislikes Haitian history. They still have a duty to cite it. And Pat Robertson is a far better man for refusing to pretend the Haitian “deal with the devil” doesn’t exist than the folks in liberal media, who may as well burn books if they are going to excoriate Robertson for citing historical fact.

Not only did the media ignore history, but many in the media may have ascribed things to Robertson he didn’t say (insert shock here). Did Robertson say it was God who caused the earthquake in Haiti, or was he actually referring to the devil? Let’s take a look.

Here is what Robertson actually said. See if you can find him blaming God or the devil for the earthquake:

“And, you know, Kristi, 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. You know, Napoleon III and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the French.’ True story. And so, the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free.

“But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other. Desperately poor. That island of Hispaniola is one island. It’s cut down the middle. On the one side is Haiti; on the other side is the Dominican Republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, et cetera. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island. 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. But right now, we’re helping the suffering people, and the suffering is unimaginable.”

Robertson didn’t say God caused an earthquake. He said Haiti is “cursed,” but not who is responsible for the curse.

Yet on NBC’s Good Morning America, Claire Shipman and George Stephanopolous tag-teamed Robertson on a piece where they jumped right to the conclusion that Robertson alleged the earthquake was God taking revenge on Haiti for the 200 year old devil pact (that pact, by the way, expired in 1991).

The Haitian pact with the devil is historical fact. Whether there is a curse on Haiti because of the pact is a matter of religious interpretation. Why is the media pretending to be surprised that Robertson, a religious leader, speaking on a religious show, would offer a religious analysis?

Feel free to religiously disagree with Robertson’s analysis, but let’s not pretend his facts were historically inaccurate because they weren’t.

Tommy De Seno is a political columnist with the triCityNews in New Jersey, a Fox News Forum contributor and editor of the blog Justified Right.


  • josef

    It never ceases to amaze how so many take a bit of historical folklore, and blindly accept it as historical fact.

    To Nick Brown:

    Robertson is being “strung up” (o, the imagery!) for taking Haitian historical folklore and religious practices as something they’re not. An individual with Dr. Robertson’s background and education should have known better, and certainly should have exercised far better judgment (especially since he still hasn’t made right about his comments about the 9/11 attacks) when commenting upon this tragedy.

    To wf922:

    I’d hesitate to say any commentary here, particularly against Dr. Robertson’s comments, demonstrates a “hate for anything religious”. A distaste for the grotesque ignorance and arrogance of those comments, yes, but nothing really about religion in general.

    To Tommy De Seno:

    In future, please undertake a bit of historical and anthropological research before writing on cultures other than your own. I guarantee it’ll cut down on the number of factual errors, as well as save you a few tons of embarrassment when they’re pointed out to you. Just a bit of friendly advice.

  • alwd

    Robertson quotes the devil “OK, it’s a deal.” Was he there? He knows what the devil said? Considering that there is, in fact, no devil, I find that hard to believe. So Robertson is, as usual, making crap up. And he is clearly implying that God is the one who cursed them. And, based on your chronolocy, the deal is over anyway. The stupidity in this post is breathtaking.

  • luckykentucky

    OMG….if you’ll pardon the pun.
    OK..
    A) You might have a slice of a point, if Robertson had offered one word of the context that you spent several paragraphs on, and hadn’t also, cleverly slipped this bit of unrelated-to-earthquakes-trivia, into a call for the Hatian’s to ‘have a great turning to God’. You must not think too much of the intelligence of the readers here, if you want anyone to buy that Robertson’s express intention, wasn’t to insinuate a cause and effect.

    B) Worth remembering i’d think, that Pat Robertson isn’t a journalist, or a reporter…so long as we’re oh so very concerned about ‘facts’. Robertson is a very successful entreprenuer with a diverse global empire, who long ago gave up the meager in comparison income stream from his televangalizing, being obviously more profitable to go hollywood than to sit around and count his viewers $10 ‘donations’. Plus retiring his Minister to the GOP title, also allowed him to peddle diet drinks and partner up with Warlords with a future in the Hague as side gigs. So he’s neither a journalist, nor an evangalist anymore according to tax codes anyway, he only plays both on the 700 Club.

    C) But since he likes to fashion himself a journalist with a view, also worth remembering his track record of “reporting” on past tragedies of world wide interest: 9/11? “ACLU,Pagens,Abortionists,Feminists….and of course Gays, ‘helped cause it to happen’ Katrina? Punishment for Roe v. Wade of course…and he also offered the helpful antedote, that the then nominee Judge Roberts, should be thankful that the tragedy of Katrina, “has brought him some good”. If you need a map to follow that one, apparently..according to Robertson, this “fact”…that Katrina was God’s punishment for Roe v. Wade, was obviously (duh!!!!!) going to help Roberts sail thru his Senate confirmation hearings. I know.

    D) The fact that he flunked out of horse trading school…should be all the evidence one needs to conclude the man is more full of crap than his tired nag’s stall was. The good horsemen of Kentucky smelled that guy coming before his jet touched down on the Bluegrass. Fools don’t last long in the backside of the track, but clearly they can have a very long fruitful and overly justified existence in the right wing.

  • wf922

    Having had extensive interraction with the Haitian community I can tell you I have heard this legend many times before. The Haitian community believes the pact is true, and while some may poo hoo the idea of black magic or voo doo…let me tell you for the Haitian community it is a religion. For anyone to castigate or admonish Robertson for reporting on a religious legend demonstrates their hate for anything religious.

  • americabuff

    Wow, where the hell to begin?

    Firstly, for someone claiming to have the historical high ground, this guy certainly is overlooking quite a few historical facts. Boukman was NOT the leader of the Haitian Revolution and his actions did not lead, directly, to Haitian independence. His slave revolt is regarded as one of the proximate causes of the Haitian Revolution; however, his own revolt was crushed and he was killed, which one would never know given the language used in this piece.

    Secondly, the rebelion that ultimately succeeeded in overthrowing the French was led by François-Dominique Toussaint Louverture, a devout Catholic, like most Haitians, rather than an adherent of voodoo.

    Finally, like this piece, Robertson’s historical interpretaion is clearly one shaped by what he might want to believe rather than one based purely on the facts of the matter. I’m sure he does not want what happened to Haiti, but in searching for an explantation he has ignorantly latched onto a story that has often been taken wrongly based on a superficial understanding of Haitian history.

  • chuckupd

    Pat Robertson’s god was on the side of the slave owners, against freedom. The bible is perfectly clear in its support of slavery.

    Appealing to Robertson’s god did the Haitians no good. If he exists at all then he opposed them gaining their freedom, so I guess the Haitians had little choice but to shop around for a better deal.

    Robertson is only an apologist for a wicked make-believe god who is good for little else but making TV-preachers filthy rich.

  • Nick Brown

    These comments are ridiculous. The author’s article is very simple. Robertson is being strung up for saying something that’s a fact. It doesn’t matter how you feel about this “pact” and if lawyers were present or unicorns danced through the prairie after the ceremony. What matters is that the comment is historically accurate, and Robertson’s words were twisted by other reporters.

    • donjabroni

      To Nick Brown:

      How is this historical fact? No one is really sure what happened at Bwa Kayiman. That book that the French doctor Antoine Dalmas wrote about it doesn’t mention it happening over there. Plus, in voodoo culture, they have their own set of gods, they don’t have the devil like they do in Christianity.

  • daveparts

    Sad just sad, but somebody had to do it. Defend a nutjob like Robertson

  • sulliedsoul

    Wow, where to begin?

    So, the “pact” was a historical event that actually occurred, right? Do you have the Great Satan’s signature on some document somewhere? Were his lawyers and legal representatives present at this “pact” or did he agree to it in absentia? Furthermore, to what extent did the pact led by some voodoo priest legally or metaphysically bind the thousands and thousands of Christian slaves and their descendants who did not participate in it?

    And let’s say that Pat Robertson was indeed only “reporting” on a historical fact (which would be remarkable for a man who is neither a reporter nor a journalist). What is the logical conclusion when a man of God, in making his first public comment on a horrendous disaster, says to his vast television audience that the country where people are suffering and are in need of help was complicit in a pact with the devil? If I held Pat Robertson in any regard, I’d say to myself “Well, then those Haitians really had it coming!” Pat Robertson doesn’t need to say that explicitly, we just have to follow his logic. Which is why a Dean at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has come out against these comments by Pat Robertson, along with pastors and priests from a variety of backgrounds.

    The media (and most compassionate Christians) are appalled by what Pat Robertson said because if you lead people think that the victims are at fault for their own suffering, then you let otherwise generous people off the hook to care and contribute to the relief efforts. You give them a pass on helping the devastated population of Haiti because it is their own devil-pact-making fault that their island is cursed.

    When Jesus’ disciples found a blind man and asked “Master, who sinned, this man or his parents?,” they were operating under the same assumption that Pat Robertson does: if something bad has happened, it must be because of sins, committed either by the present generation or the past generation. Jesus’ answer, as always, transcended this mode of thought. “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. He is blind that the works of God may be made manifest in him.”

    Followers of Jesus believe that modern disasters and maladies occur to demonstrate God’s love and compassion through the relief and aid we can bring to those who suffer. This trope about the “Haitian pact with the devil” badly detracts from the more important and saliently Christian issue, namely bringing aid and relief to the suffering. Spending time debating whose sin caused what curse is about as useless a line of reasoning as you can get.