Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pat Robertson's Ignorance of Earth Science

I heard about the horrific statements 700 Club host Pat Robertson made about the cause of the earthquake in Haiti which included:

"They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third 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 prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it’s a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got something themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another," Robertson said.
These types of statements are relevant to violence prevention and response since many people who believe that natural disasters are caused by the victims' sin also believe that certain crimes are caused by the victims' sinful nature or sinful past.

Robertson's assumptions and bigoted "true story" remind me of shows on the History channel which talked about how people explained anything they couldn't understand including natural disasters like earthquakes in just this way.

But those people had an excuse since their faulty belief system predated scientists beginning to discover the basic mechanics of our planet and how construction techniques can increase or moderate the damage done during an earthquake. Scientists understand that the differences in the earth's surface at the epicenter can make 2 earthquakes which measure the same very different in the damage they do.

People like Robertson and those who excuse him have no valid excuse for their ignorance. Ignorance has become a choice.

This is an understandable choice. When you are not being cursed with any misfortune, ignorance can be a convenient means to feel smugly superior to those who are suffering and to those who have died. When it comes to sex crimes those who feel safe can use their ignorance to feel superior to those who are suffering and to those who have died at the hands of the sexually violent.

This belief that victims of sex crimes bring the crime upon themselves often shows up indirectly at the response to sex crimes where the victim did everything right and cannot be blamed in any way. There's a sense that this isn't how the world is supposed to work. This isn't who should be raped.

Along with ignorance which assumes the victim's guilt, this ignorance often erases other people's practical contribution to harm. The most obvious contribution to harm in earthquakes is building techniques. Except where builders are making deliberate choices to build unsafely the builder's spiritual life is irrelevant to the outcome. When it comes to crimes, bystander victim blaming has a practical contribution to harm. If a jury believes a rape victim deserved to be raped the rapist is less likely to be seen as criminally responsible.

One of the other things Haiti was "cursed" by were hurricanes where the harm is related to seasonal changes in the planet and ocean temperatures and even deforestation. If the rise in ocean temperatures was caused by humans and that contributed to increased severity of the hurricanes which hit Haiti in 2008 it wasn't the people in Haiti who are primarily responsible.

It would be the industrialists and those who consumed the most products per capita which contributed to the warming of the oceans and to the increased severity of related disasters. But this more accurate narrative indicts many of Pat Robertson's faithful viewers. To put it into their context, their sin of consumption contributed to the destruction of innocent lives. Consumer demand can also contribute to deforestation which can contribute to harm. This is a message his audience and those who share Robertson's simple sin solution would not tolerate.

Bystanders are innocent in Pat Robertson's sin explanation. Rather than understanding our complex relationship with our planet and treating the natural world with respect and understanding the solution is:
American Christian televangelist and host of "The 700 Club," said that Haitians need to have a "great turning to god"
This type of statement comes from a place of ignorant arrogance since it blindly assumes that the person making this statement was spared from this type of disaster and from other misfortunes because of his or her personal righteousness. In this worldview prevention of all that is bad or deadly consists of nothing more than the right kind of prayer.

We need a full understanding and then we need action based on that understanding not ignorance presented in the name of God.
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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:47 PM   1 comments links to this post


At January 16, 2010 6:44 PM, Blogger Rj said...

Well, check this out:

From: dave_074_2004
Sent: Sun, 17 January, 2010 7:42:40 AM
Subject: [Shatteredmen] Re: In Haiti, Women Need Help; Men? Not So Much

It could be, that it is only a certain minority that are complaining. One video I saw showed several men running around waving machetes. Instead of carrying on in such a manner, why don't they get busy, and help! Most of the videos show Haitians being rescued, or receiving provisions, which clearly shows they are being helped.

Only so much can be done at a time such as this, and we do have a responsibility to our own citizens too! These people need to remember who is bringing them food, water, temporary shelter, and other needs of life. They also need to remember who will help them clean up, and rebuild their island nation. We all know it will mostly be the United States!

I have had customers who were Haitian, and known missionaries to Haiti, as well. They tell of a people who really don't care to live as a modern nation, but are content to live in simple poverty. It appears they are not easily motivated to improve their lot in life. Could it be, we have pampered them, and supplied them with too much in the past, and now they expect us to cater to them. Yes, they desparately need help right now, but also need to be greatful for what they are receiving. Hopefully, the help they are receiving might become a motivational example to them.


--- In Shatteredmen@ yahoogroups. com, EMBARQ Customer wrote:
> The HAitians are already starting to resent us for helping because we are getting americans and europeans out of rubble first.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: G A MARKS
> To: Shatteredmen@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Sat, 16 Jan 2010 01:42:03 -0500 (EST)
> Subject: Re: [Shatteredmen] In Haiti, Women Need Help; Men? Not So Much

Ahhhh, More truth on this site! It is so wonderful to read the truth, as it is a rare commodity in this PC secular progressive country! Haiti is a needy country from day one. Has anyone addressed Pat Robertson's Theory here? This is the land of Voo-Doo folks! When I was there, young girls were marketed openly along with dope! Yes, some Christians had made inroads in missionary service, but the government and majority were corrupt. Think about this, we(the US) built most of these buildings, how long before the barristers sue us for helping in the first place!
> Bubba


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