Posted by: Harold Knight | 01/15/2010

Pat Robertson’s Cavorting with “Evil”

I don’t know what I think of the idea of the presence of “evil” in the world. However,

I am sick to death of Pat Robertson.

He is a fraud and a charlatan.

His pretention to speak for God, his claiming to be a prophetic voice in his self-styled ego-centric version of christianity, and his constant “judgments” against the disenfranchised (which is to say, anyone who is not a white fundamentalist straight American christian or a Zionist) of the world are, in a word, (I guess I’ll say it) evil. 

That the American people (christian or not) continue to pay attention to him—continually reporting  his evil rantings, thereby giving a platform to his perverted versions of religion (both christianity and other religions)—implicates America  in Pat Robertson’s cavorting with evil. Does the mere fact that he speaks for and forms the ideas of millions of fundamentalist christians in this country insulate him from censure—not commentators meekly “decrying his words,” or the White House wringing its hands and calling his comments “stupid,” or Whoopi Goldberg “blasting” his comments—by writers other than obscure bloggers whose writings are read by handfuls of people? Are those of us on the fringe the only ones who are ever going to shout, “The emperor has no clothes,” or, in Robertson’s case, “The preacher has no religion.” 

No, by all means, let’s spread the vitriol of a megalomaniac “preacher of the gospel” around the world compounding the tragedy that has befallen a people who have suffered an unspeakable disaster. My guess is we’ve allowed him to have a voice—and perpetuated it by reporting it in the world press—because nearly all Americans have the secret thought, “Well, maybe the ‘Voodoo’ of the Haitians does have something to do with the unimaginable and apparently intractable poverty of that tiny nation.” Tell me, if you are reading this, that you have never had—or made jokes about—“voodoo dolls.” I have yet to read (admittedly I avoid most of what passes for “commentary” in this country) a single popular media discussion of Robertson’s vile interpretation of the historical realities of the Haitian struggle for independence that explains even in the simplest terms why his statements are inaccurate and demonic. 

Robertson would never say it, of course, but what he really means by “making a pact with the devil” is that the African slaves of the French, “uprooted” (1) from their homelands and brought to an island thousands of miles away as part of the largest forced migration in the history of the world, violently overthrew the “christian” capitalists who enslaved them. How dare they? They must certainly, in Robertson’s twisted theology, have had help from the devil, or they could not, would not, have acted so unthinkably.  The devil must certainly have made them do it. And, for Robertson, in his hypocritical belief in “One God,” the devil lives in the fact that the One God expresses herself differently to him than the One God expresses herself to people whose inherited experience includes both a different religious understanding and total subjugation by Robertson’s ancestors. This difference cannot be, according to Robertson. Unfortunately, his One God is not the God of all people. She is Robertson’s god. 

That the United States did not recognize the state of Haiti until after the Emancipation Proclamation is proof enough that Robertson’s—and most other Americans’, I suppose—denigration of Haiti and its people stems directly from the fact that it was the first independent nation built by Africans taken forcibly from their homelands and used as chattel to build the capitalist fortunes of European Americans, or by the indigenous people of the lands conquered and exploited by European christians. 

So, by all means, let’s give the fraudulent preacher, the charlatan christian evangelist a worldwide pulpit to preach his hatred and stupidity. It’s not difficult to find truth about Haiti, about Voodoo, and about the history of slavery, French capitalism, Haitian rebellion, and independence. We can, in fact, begin to have an understanding of these realities that is not based on the movies or popular novels or the rantings of unprincipled religious con-men.

. . .fetish is precisely how Vodou’s sacred arts have almost always been represented in popular and scholarly expositions. For this very reason we should further acknowledge that Vodou is by leagues the most fetishized (and consequently most maligned) religion in the world. Everyone knows the fetishes. . . .dolls stuck with pins or reconfigured into other sado-mas postures; human skulls as candle holders; coffins containing zombies; crucifixes jutting out of medicine packets; blood drenched this’s and that’s: paraphernalia Westerners have long associated with the Black Mass (all puns intended). . . .Such interpretations stem primarily from the writings of foreigners encountering the votive objects of a religion they find both repellent and fascinating. . . .the stereotypes continue in a jagged line through the films of Hollywood horror auteurs (I Walk with the Zombies; White Zombie) right up to. . . The Serpent and the Rainbow. Even knowledgeable observers have succumbed to ethnographic jungle fever [with reports] full of such sensationalized trash. It’s not that the stuff [they report], zombie powders and (false) rumors of human “goats,” don’t have a place in the description of Vodou. But to dwell on these bizarre rarities is the equivalent of writing a history of Christianity based on the use of Kool-Aid in Jonestown, or the depiction of demonic possession in The Exorcist. (2)

Of course, Pat Robertson understands more about Voodoo and Haiti than Professor Cosentino does. After all, Robertson speaks for god, while Donald Cosentino speaks only for history, understanding, research, and personal knowledge of the people about whom he writes. Surely god doesn’t care about those things.
_________  
( 1) See: Fox, Patricia D. Being and Blackness in Latin America; Uprootedness and Improvisation. Gainesville: UP of Florida, 2006. Reviewed by:  González-Abellás, Miguel Ángel. “New approaches to Afro-Latin American literary and cultural studies.” Chasqui 38.2 (2009): 158+.

( 2) Cosentino, Donald. “Vodou: A Way of Life.” Material Religion 5.2 (2009): 250.
Donald John Cosentino, Ph.D., has been Professor of Culture and Performance (Folklore, Literature, Visual and Material Arts, Popular Culture, African and Afro-Caribbean Studies) at UCLA since 1988. He has done extensive fieldwork on African and diasporic cultures in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Haiti. He is the author of “Vodou Things: The Art of Pierrot Barra and Marie Cassaise” (University of Mississippi Press, 1998). He is the editor and chief writer of the award winning catalogue for “The Sacred Arts of Haitian Vodou” (1995), a traveling exhibition he curated for the UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History. Cosentino has been co-editor of African Arts magazine, published by the UCLA African Studies Center, since 1988. His Ph.D. is in African Languages and Literatures from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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Responses

  1. Book of Isaiah…

    My thoughts are not your thoughts
    Neither are your ways my ways.
    For as the heavens are higher than the earth
    So are my ways higher than your ways
    My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

    Pat your words are not the thoughts and ways of our Lord. He will stand in judgement of you one day. Unless you humble yourself before him for your thoughts and ways, he will bar you from his kingdom.

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