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Thursday, January 14, 2010

About that Haitian Pact with the Devil

Big thanks to my truckbuddy Frank for passing along this post from Matthew Yglesias, with source links:
But was there a pact with the devil? I would also note that the Haitian Revolution began in 1791, years before Napoleon took over France as Consul. Napoleon III didn’t come to power until 1848. So clearly Robertson is confused on the basic history. But I believe that Robertson is referring to the Bois Caïman Ceremony that in Haitian national mythology initiated the revolution. This was a Vodou ceremony and the following text is normally attributed to its leader, Boukman:
The god who created the earth; who created the sun that gives us light. The god who holds up the ocean; who makes the thunder roar. Our God who has ears to hear. You who are hidden in the clouds; who watch us from where you are. You see all that the white has made us suffer. The white man’s god asks him to commit crimes. But the god within us wants to do good. Our god, who is so good, so just, He orders us to revenge our wrongs. It’s He who will direct our arms and bring us the victory. It’s He who will assist us. We all should throw away the image of the white men’s god who is so pitiless. Listen to the voice for liberty that speaks in all our hearts.
If you were a white, Catholic French person or Haitian plantation owner, I can see why you would characterize this as a prayer offered “to the devil.” The black Haitians are postulating the existence of two Gods, one for the whites and one for the blacks. The whites regard the God they pray to as the one true God. So if the blacks are praying to some second god, and doing it with a Vodou ceremony, it stands to reason that they’re engaged in a satanic ritual of some sort.

But there’s no reason for 21st century Americans to accept this interpretation of the story. From the Haitian perspective, I think you’d say they were just praying to God for his assistance and asserting the justice of their cause. This is what pretty much everyone does before heading into battle.
I also found this short clip about the Bois Caïman ceremony, presented by some American scholars:

Bois Caïman and the Vodou Revolution from Conversations With the Living on Vimeo.

Also available on YouTube here, if Vimeo doesn't play well on your computer.

Now class, after reading and viewing all of the above, compare and contrast this incident with the emotionally unstable Glenn Beck's adoration of his "fiery warrior mother spirit of love" Sarah, as shown in the next post.

Alternatively, discuss what kind of slaveholder Pat Robertson would have been in 18th-century Haiti.  Completed essays, with footnotes, are due by Monday.

Bonus:  Muchas gracias to truckbuddy Gary for posting this brilliant and utterly devastating riposte to Robertson and Limbaugh by Olbermann:

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