By Sohaila Abdulali
Sensible people all over are shaking their heads at the lunatic television evangelist Pat Robertson, He of the Unshakeable Jowls. Robertson has once again used his inspired imagination, this time to blame the beleaguered people of Haiti for the disaster that has befallen them and their beautiful country. According to Robertson, Haitians made a pact with the devil a few hundred years ago and now the earthquake that has torn apart their country and killed 50,000 or so of their loved ones is…well…really, their own fault. And I don’t mean the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault.
Predictably, we are all appalled and he is getting all the publicity he could possibly want. But really, what did we expect from the man who blamed pro-abortionists and feminists for 9/11? He’s ridiculous and his ideas are ridiculous. But what isn’t ridiculous is that the world is full of Pat Robertsons, who blame people for their own misfortunes.
An earthquake is a geologic occurrence that happens when parts of the earth move against each other. You can’t cause an earthquake by telling lies, cheating on your lover, stealing stationery from the office or making a pact with the devil.
If the fundamentalists among us are willing to blame earthquake victims for their misery, imagine if you will the way the world looks at people who fall victim to a virus that travels through bodily fluids. We laugh, scoff or fulminate against Pat Robertson because he is an easy target, being so clearly deranged in his views. But we might tut-tut at someone who didn’t use a condom, someone who has more than one partner, someone who sells sex or injects heroin. HIV is a dirty disease in many of our minds and we blame its victims in ways that would never occur to us to do in the case of, say, swine flu, which you also catch in the course of living your daily life.
If we think Haitians didn’t deserve their world to literally fall apart, and those who take the subway to work don’t deserve to catch H1N1, let’s be as hard on those who blame HIV-positive people as we are on Pat Robertson. Let’s put the blame where it belongs: on the world’s amazing inability to provide effective prevention and treatment, not on those who suffer as a result.