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Foreign Policy Idiot of the Week - Pat Robertson

This week, Pat Robertson built upon his legacy of making absurd observations on foreign affairs. While the international community and especially the United States, moved  to provide humanitarian relief to the people of Haiti in the aftermath of this week's earthquake, Pat Robertson decided instead to rub salt in Haitian wounds. Robertson did so, by publicly declaring that the earthquake was divine punishment for Haiti, due to the apparent fact that hundreds of years ago, Haitians 'swore a pact to the devil' and have been 'cursed' ever since. Within hours of his remarks, Robertson's words had been carried by media around the world. The man who on his own website, declares himself a 'statesman', has once again successfully damaged America's image around the world.

While Robertson's statement was at a basic level both deeply insulting and clearly particularly sick having come from a supposed Christian preacher, his words also served to dishonor the United States. From one perspective perhaps we should not be suprised by Robertson's latest actions. After all, this is the man who not only has previously labeled Muslims as Satan worshippers and Hindus as demonic, but also, has declared feminism to be a form of 'witchcraft' and warned Disney World that their acceptance of homosexuality risked the resort being destroyed, 'possibly by a meteor'.  If these words came from the mouth of a less high profile individual, they would be easy to dismiss as the rants of an extremist who is regarded as such. However, Pat Robertson is anything but low profile. He is regarded around the World as a 'leader' of many American Christians. Thus, in his absurdity, Robertson perpetuates the myth (sadly held by many around the world) that the United States is populated to a non-insignificant degree, by delusional, religious fanatics who are fundamentally disconnected with reality. While this perception has no roots in fact, actions like those of Robertson clearly provide an easy avenue for anti-american propaganda.

Obviously Pat Robertson is entitled to his views and it is absolutely critical that he as with any individual, continue to be able to say whatever he wants. However, as a man in the public spotlight, Robertson should consider the impact of his words on America's image around the World and as a Christian, should consider the feelings of those who are suffering. Without trying to engage with theology, what kind of God would punish thousands of people to death, just because someone may or may not have once made a pact with the devil? Robertson needs to climb out of loony land.


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