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Mark Potok

Mark Potok

Posted: January 14, 2010 04:49 PM

Haitian Catastrophe: For Racists, a Good Laugh

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In Haiti, tens of thousands of earthquake victims are dead, with at least one official estimating the number could reach half a million when the full, horrifying effects of Tuesday night's earthquake in the island nation are finally known.

In Arkansas, Billy Roper figured that made for a pretty amusing joke. So the former high school teacher and current head of the neo-Nazi White Revolution group today announced a food drive he called "Nutrition for Neutering." "Yes," Roper's White Revolution website said, "you can get started on the ground floor with this charitable effort to provide one can of nonperishable food to each and every Haitian citizen affected by the earthquake who agrees to be sterilized."

Roper's charming post, featuring a photo of castration shears, goes on to say that if those citizens then go for nine months without producing children, he will send them a can opener. "Physical evidence of the castration process should be mailed by the applying food aid recipients to Barack Obama," he adds.

For most Americans, the sight of the catastrophe in Haiti provoked an outpouring of sympathy and support for the victims. Early reports suggest that most structures in the island's capital city of Port au Prince were damaged or destroyed. Men, women and children are wandering the streets with horrific injuries, and the cries trapped victims still are emanating from underneath tons of rubble.

But Billy Roper and those like him -- characters like the sterling defenders of the white race who populate the loathsome Stormfront.org, the world's largest white supremacist Web forum -- are not like most Americans.

Just have a listen to some of the voices on Stormfront:
• "Money showered on simians is wasted." -- "Karl von Muller"
• "F*ck Haiti. .... I'm fed [up] to the core with hearing of Haiti and how we must help these 'poor' abominations to humankind." -- "Iberian88"
• "Negroes left to their own devices turn everything into a pest hole." -- "Herr Leutnant"
• "Nature left to its own devices will clear itself of the blight." -- "AngelEyez"

And on the web page of the Council of Conservative Citizens -- a group that has described black people as a "retrograde species of humanity" -- a report on Haiti was illustrated with a picture of a white man being lynched by blacks, presumably in Haiti.

Most of these comments are far beyond the pale of what most Americans, of any race, felt when they heard news of the Haitian tragedy. But it wasn't only neo-Nazis who said ugly things. Some of the most astounding comments came from people in the ostensible mainstream -- people like radio heavyweight Rush Limbaugh.

To Limbaugh, President Obama, in calling for Americans to open their hearts and their wallets to the plight of the Haitians, is interested in nothing but political gain. "This will play right into Obama's hands," Limbaugh said on his Wednesday radio show. "He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, 'credibility' with the black community - in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country." Anyway, Haiti "has been run by dictators and communists." It produces "zilch, zero, nada." And Obama is asking "people who have lost their jobs because of his policies to donate."

"Besides," the millionaire broadcaster added later in his show, "we've already donated to Haiti. It's called the U.S. income tax."

For his part, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson said on Wednesday's 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network that the Haitians had brought it all on themselves. "They were under the heel of the French... . And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'OK, it's a deal.' ... [E]ver since, they have been cursed by one thing after another."

Robertson, who once blamed the 9/11 attacks on abortionists, feminists and others, didn't mention how he knew this to be a "true story."