Friday, January 15, 2010

Can We Kick Him Out of Western Civilization Now?

Left Blogistan has been brimming with well-justified disgust at Pat Robertson's comments on Haiti, and I have little to say that hasn't already been said. Even supposing that he had any respectable evidence whatsoever to support his bizarre claim that two centuries ago some Haitians made a deal with the Devil to free themselves from the French, this would hardly alleviate the more glaring problem that, on Robertson's account, a professedly just and loving God is now inflicting death and misery upon thousands of people who had nothing to do with the deal and weren't even alive at the time as payback. I marvel at the kind of mind that can smugly offer this as a reasonable explanation of an awful human tragedy, and I am wary of exploring its blasted geography much further. Watch out for snakes.

But Robertson's weirdness doesn't stop there. I was struck by this part of his remarks, too:

You know, the Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after the other, desperately poor. That island is Hispaniola is one island. It's cut down the middle. On one side is Haiti, on the other side is the Dominican republic. Dominican Republic is prosperous, healthy, full of resorts, etc.. Haiti is in desperate poverty. Same island.
It's not at all hard to believe that the Dominican Republic is better off than Haiti, and indeed, a look at the CIA World Factbook shows that the DR beats Haiti pretty much across the board. But does the Dominican Republic really merit the adjectives "healthy" and "prosperous"?
GDP per capita PPP: DR 119th, Haiti 203rd (out of 229)

Distribution of family income: Haiti 8th most unequal, DR 25th (out of 134)

GDP real growth rate: Haiti 168th, DR 78th (out of 217)

Life expectancy at birth: Haiti 181st (60.78), DR 99th (73.7) (out of 224)

Infant mortality rate (deaths per 1000 live births): Haiti 37th worst (56.69), DR 83rd worst (25.96)(out of 224)

Better off than Haiti it may be (doubly so in some categories), but if this is Pat Robertson's idea of "prosperous" and "healthy," then let me be the first to recommend that he decamp to this veritable paradise and trouble us no more with his sick attempts at theodicy.

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