Monday, January 18, 2010

Hating Haitians

One of the joys of scuba diving is it offers the chance to take vacations in exotic locales off the beaten path (Bon-where, now?).
One of the embarrassments of scuba diving is having to explain Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson to people from more civilized and sophisticated societies like France, England, the Netherlands, and "Bon-where, now?"
Often, I'm tempted to shrug my shoulders and simply say they're snake oil salesmen who have entire swaths of morons bamboozled by both bilking them for tens of millions of dollars, all while off-putting the blame to someone else. Of course, there's much evidence that even the more mainstream Republican factions are con artists, which makes this not only a tempting trope to leave with, but a facile explanation to boot.
I mean, come on! When a dunderhead like Erick Erickson finally begins to see the light about the movement he's helped spawn and launch, it's like Capt. Renault finding gambling at Rick's Cafe Americain!
But that's nothing compared to the massive scam being pulled by Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson over Haiti. If Sarah Palin and Michael Steele are pulling in long money over a few books and a convention, you can rest assured that every time Rush Limbaugh or Pat Robertson open their mouths and say something blitheringly, blindingly idiotic, their accountants are grinning from ear to ear.
For example, when Robertson says that the earthquake was a "blessing in disguise," was he really referring to religious reform in Haiti? Well, sort of, but the blessings were not for Haitians and not for the afterlife, but for the hundreds of evangelicals and other Christian missionaries who would be getting beaucoup bucks to keep piling on the indigent population to attempt to convert them to a brand of Christianity that is both judgemental and better suited for people with little intelligence.
In other words, it benefits Robertson and other Christian Coalitionites.
And when Rush actually campaigns against giving to relief efforts (particularly those emanating on the White House website, like, you know, the American Red Cross?), cui bono? Who benefits?
As for his ridiculous comments that American taxes go to pay Haitian relief efforts, yes, to the extent that they pay the salaries of officials and soldiers on the ground there, it's true. Those salaries would be paid anyway, however so its not like no earthquake would have magically removed a line item from the budget.
Indeed, one could make the argument that Rush himself benefits from those same taxes, ergo he should not be allowed to charge for advertising on his radio program since the airwaves are free.
But now try explaining to some fellow diver who's Swiss or Italian the whole phenomenon of a man who rails against taxes or one who calls innocent people "devils" in a free society, not only with little repercussion (the tragedy having far outweighed the outrage, a tactic both Rush and Robertson rely upon) but with the full faith and credit of a significant percentage of Americans supporting them, and not conjure up images of Il Duce or worse.
I'm sure I got defensive when discussing them. For that, I apologize, just as I was forced to offer up simple puling of "well, there's a place for all beliefs in America" as explanation.
Which I shouldn't have had to. Your not allowed to shout fire in a crowded theater. It's about time we found some way to hold people responsible not only for their actions, but for their words.