The first shocking thing about the huge Haiti earthquake which has killed up to 500,000 people is that one of the poorest countries in the world should have to bear even more horror than its permanent poverty. Look at the maps and you'll see how close the epicentre of this 7 magnitude quake is to the capital of Port-Au-Prince. Only ten miles. And because it's only six miles deep, the ground shakes were all the more violent and their impact devastating.
The shoddily built structures have collapsed. Even the presidential palace is down. The head of the UN mission in Haiti is dead, the Archbishop of Haiti is dead, along with hundreds of thousands of others. Privilege and status offer no protection.
The second thing that is shocking, if not surprising, is Pat Robinson and his relentless pursuit of publicity. He says the disaster is a punishment from God due to a pact the Haitians made with the devil when they liberated themselves as slaves from the French in the 1700s.
The Haitian Ambassador to the US, Raymond Joseph, makes a dignified response and points out this this "pact with the devil" gave Louisiana to the US for $15 million and helped make America what it is today.
Pat Robertson on the Satanic pact: "It's a true story." Ha!
What is it with pious Christian fundies of late? I can't help noticing that Iris Robinson attacks gays as being an abomination because the bible says so while she indulges in the biblical sin of adultery, not to mention exploitation of a vulnerable bereaved teenage family friend, and the very human sin of graft and kickbacks. From the not-so-sublime to the ridiculous Bible-basher and right-wing shock jock Stephen Baldwin who's whipping up a hate frenzy around nice but dim Nicola T on Celebrity Big Brother. Dim as she might be, Nichola's not so stupid as to meekly accept his cowardly mendacity, where he's shifting his guilt over breaking CBB rules to her, without putting up a challenge. But he's taking revenge and saying forgiveness is not an option. Trivial yes, but the devil is in the detail.
These examples may be a world away from each other but they are united in their warping of stated core Christian values.
And then there's the Pope. With so many human souls gone, including a fair number of his own Catholic constituents, what's his prime concern? Pope says gay marriage a threat to creation.
There's much about the Christian religion that appeals to me: namely love, mercy and compassion. The notion of forgiveness is deeply touching. The protection of a woman against a stoning because she slept with someone who wasn't her husband must have been rare if not unheard of in ancient times. But what I learn from Christ's behaviour is that any system, whether religious or political, should serve human beings, not the other way around. When it devours its followers it's lost its humanity and its reason for being.
“Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC”
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UPDATE: Eagle-eye Ollie found this on the Heritage Foundation website, now replaced (see comments).
"In addition to providing immediate humanitarian assistance, the U.S. response to the tragic earthquake in Haiti earthquake offers opportunities to re-shape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States in the region."
They're also threatening to send George W Bush like the Haitians haven't suffered enough.
Others are pointing out the political background to the appalling state endured by the Haitian people. Thanks to Splintered Sunrise.
UPDATE 2: Pat Robertson voodoo doll for sale — proceeds to Haiti appeal
Greg Palast's trenchant criticism of the US aid effort ("in a few days") and history in Haiti:
There's no such thing as a 'natural' disaster. 200,000 Haitians have been slaughtered by slum housing and IMF "austerity" plans. ... China deployed rescuers with sniffer dogs within 48 hours. China, Mr. President. China: 8,000 miles distant. Miami: 700 miles close. US bases in Puerto Rico: right there.
IMF holds Haiti to ransom at The Nation