Archive for the ‘haiti earthquake’ tag
Well, the man did pen a song titled, “If I Was President,” but I think Wyclef Jean meant president of the United States, not president of Haiti at the time. He may, however, soon be the actual president of the latter. He, indeed, has confirmed that he was running for president of the earthquake-quaked nation, saying today that he was “compelled” to stop making music for a period and make a run for the top position. Here is The New York Times’ account of the story:
Wyclef Jean, a Haitian-American hip-hop artist who left his homeland for Brooklyn at the age of 9, confirmed Wednesday that he planned to run for president of this earthquake-battered country.
Mr. Jean, 40, said in an interview on Wednesday night that he felt compelled by the urgency of Haiti’s situation to interrupt his life as a musician and make a bid for the presidency in the Nov. 28 election.
“You can either live trying to do something or die having done nothing,” he said, adding that he did not want history to remember him as “somebody who, after the devastation of the country that he claimed he loved so much, just kept singing more songs.”
Mr. Jean, the son of a Nazarene minister, described his candidacy as a calling.
“I’m not running for president so much as I’m being drafted,” he said, speaking by telephone from New Jersey. “The youth, in their mind if I don’t come and put a perspective to things, they feel there’s no future for the country, and I have to agree with them.”
And of his song, “If I Was President,” the tune, according to The Times:
underscored the need for elected officials to seize the moment, he said. It talks about a president who “gets elected on Friday, assassinated on Saturday, buried on Sunday” — and then the country goes “back to work on Monday.”
Here is a live performance of the song:
Interestingly, Time’s NewsFeed conjured up a “mixtape” on some popular Jean lyrics, which may shed light on the singer’s potential platform as head of a nation.
I’m sure he’s not the only one to have done so, but New Yorker staff writer James Wood has composed a piece about the classic piece of theodicy that was Pat Robertson’s stupifying condemnation of Haitians. As Wood notes, theodicy is the acknowledgment of God’s kingship in the world in the wake of suffering or pain, and it turns up about this time after most major catastrophes. The most recent of such occurrence was probably Hurricane Katrina in 2005, although it’s not inconceivable that similar thoughts weren’t uttered, at least privately, in the aftermath of the 2008 cyclone in Myanmar or the 1990s quake in godless San Francisco.
As Wood writes:
This repellent cruelty manages the extraordinary trick of combining hellfire evangelism with neo-colonialist complacency, in which the Haitians are blamed not only for their sinfulness but also for the hubris of their political rebellion. Eighteenth-century preachers at least tended to include themselves in the charge of general sinfulness and God’s inevitable reckoning; Mr. Robertson sounds rather pleased with his own outwitting of such reckoning, as if the convenient blessing of being a God-fearing American has saved him from such pestilence. He is presumably on the other side of the sin-line, safe in some Dominican resort.
As I was intrigued (perplexed?) by messages I saw in passing on Facebook and in news stories calling for folks to pray for the folks in Haiti, this topic brings some, OK many, questions to mind:
Where were the prayers prior to the quake? Haiti isn’t exactly a thriving nation. The people of that country could have used some spiritual cheerleading way, way before the catastrophe in Port-au-Prince centuries before now. I’m more impressed with people who have actually sent food, resources or who have personally traveled to the country. Why should we wait for something terrible to happen, and then, and only then, pray for the affected people? Do the prayers do any good? We have no way of knowing, but why not ask God to prevent any and all natural disasters, mass murders, acts of terror, rapes and murders?
Why do folks pray about natural disaster victims to a God who, in his omnipotence, and there is no getting around this, either allowed the disaster to happen or simply did not prevent it. To what extent does it matter that we are supposedly “fallen?” Does the fact that we are “fallen” make it OK for an all-powerful god to allow the wide scale death of his creation?
Of course, we must concede that we have no way of knowing which disasters or deaths he might be preventing because obviously they never happened if he prevented them. For all we know, he could be preventing 1,000 huge disasters per year, and only one or two slip through. But if that’s the case, those one or two become interesting occurrences indeed. How do one or two slip the past omniscient eye of God out of 1,000s? Again, if he allows one or two to slip through, what does that say about God?
Would he seriously consider any such requests or questions to slow down or stop the natural disasters and personal tragedies that wreck humankind? If not, why not? Does it all boil down to his divine governance, thus reverting us back to theodicy?
The only people who would seem to have the right to invoke God at the moment are the Haitians themselves, who beseech his help amidst dreadful pain. They, too, alas, appear to wander the wasteland of theodicy. News reports have described some Haitians giving voice to a worldview uncomfortably close to Pat Robertson’s, in which a vengeful God has been meting out justified retribution: “I blame man. God gave us nature, and we Haitians, and our governments, abused the land. You cannot get away without consequences,” one man told The Times last week.
Others sound like a more frankly theological President Obama: a 27-year-old survivor, Mondésir Raymone, was quoted thus: “We have survived by the grace of God.”
Too bad that same grace didn’t extend to and smile on some 150,000 other Haitians, a grace that seems selective, to say the least.
Oh, and here’s another, by another person who actually knows what’s he’s talking about, Ambassador Raymond Joseph:
My personal favorite quote: “… So, what pact the Haitian made with the devil has helped America become what it is.”
Another, from Rachel Maddow:
I cannot apologize for him (Pat Robertson), but if I could, I would.
As I posted yesterday, Pat Robertson of the 700 Club leveled some offensive comments toward the people Haiti, and crassly at that, in the midst of one of the country’s worst disasters in its history. Here’s a response from one resident of Haiti, posted by The Miami Herald:
For the record, here is The Miami Herald’s article, which quotes a statement from the Robertson camp:
Dr. Robertson never stated that the earthquake was God’s wrath. Dr. Robertson’s compassion for the people of Haiti is clear.
No, he didn’t say it explicitedly. He’s too cagey to do that. But his implications were all too clear and unequivocal. What isn’t clear is his compassion for the people of Haiti, only insomuch as he wishes them to turn to God. Otherwise, they are lost, cursed, doomed, damned, whatever the word, like the rest of us. In his world view, as I stated, Haitians made a pact with the devil and are getting what they rightly deserve as an unfortunate consequence, just as those in New Orleans got what they deserved and just as America got what it deserved on 9/11.
Christians should be embarrassed and ashamed that Pat Robertson is still on the air, and worse, that he’s still a respected (by who at this point, one can only wonder) religious leader. A day after, perhaps, 100,000 people died in a 7.0-level earthquake in Haiti, and ironically with his black, female co-host obligatorally nodding along like a newborn cow, Robertson had this to say about the lost (apparently he meant spiritually lost as well, an unfortunate twofer!):
ROBERTSON: 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.
Here’s the video … or, whatever:
Needless to say, folks have been outraged by this, not the least of whom was FOX News’ Shepard Smith, who said:
The people of Haiti have been used and abused by their government over the years. They have dealt with unthinkable tragedy over the years, day in and day out. And were in the middle of a crisis that the Western Hemisphere has not seen in my lifetime. And 700 miles east of Miami, hundreds and thousands of desperate human beings need our help, our support, our money and our love. And they don’t need that.
Or, to reference and even more scathing criticism of Robertson (I can’t say it’s not ill-deserved), and here we return to the black co-host:
The next time your (sic) wondering why there are so few black Republicans, consider the fact (that) this unreconstructed Confederate was not long ago one of their greatest crusaders. Consider that he is equating the resistance of slavery, with a rejection of Christ. And there’s an African-American right next to him, nodding in agreement.
Fuck Pat Robertson. Fuck the “Christian” Broadcasting Network. And fuck any black person who’d nod reverently while a white supremacist slanders our founding fathers. She should be ashamed of herself. — Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic magazine
And he should be too, as I’ve already said. First, let me bring some tedious facts to light, ignoring, for a moment, the ridiculous, anachronistic notion that current Haitians should be punished for the sins of their forefathers. I know “facts” often get in the way of some good-ol’-curses-handed-down-from-God talk, but the actual devil to whom Robertson may have been referring was possibly Jean Jacques Dessalines, who with the help of the British, drove out the French once and for all, ending the reign of slavery that had gripped Haiti.
True, Dessalines was no angel, and clearly was hostile to whites after his people were enslaved for so long. He may have indeed been as racist as anyone else at the time. He killed white folks and ruled as a dictator before he was assassinated. But to suggest, as Robertson has, that “they” made a deal with the “devil” by agreeing to let Dessalines drive out the French in exchange for getting out of French rule and letting him run things is a non sequitur and complete drivel, continuing Robertson’s long run of blaming disasters, natural and manmade, on God’s wrath.
“They,” the Haitians, didn’t have a choice, as Dessalines was a despot, and with him and after him, the troubles in Haiti continued. “They,” in fact, were the oppressed before and after slavery by despot after despot. “They,” more than ever, should be thrown every thread of sympathy we have as humans. “They” have real families, real children and real lives. As I have said again and again, and will continue to say, about the immigration issue and others, these people are fellow, living, breathing human beings with beating hearts. “They” are not an indicted multitude, as religion, and Robertson’s brand in particular, would have us believe. In fact, dare I say it, many Haitians are almost certainly Christians. In Robertson’s world, however, they too are among the condemned.