Lily Coyle's Strib letter to Robertson from Satan goes viral
The Rev. Pat Robertson is a huckster, flogging everything from diet plans to Republican politics from his pulpit at the Christian Broadcasting Network. Last week, he hit a new low, suggesting that the poverty-stricken folks in Haiti had brought a devastating earthquake on their their God-forsaken nation by making a pact with the devil hundreds of years ago in their desperate drive to rid themselves of slavery.
Like so many people, Lily Coyle of Minneapolis was appalled at Robertson's twisting of history for his own ends. In reaction, she adopted the persona of Stan to send a letter to the Star Tribune mocking Robertson.
Her satire recalls a similar letter to the editor from a bygone era from a better-known author: Mark Twain. And it has become an Internet sensation.
One of the first people to pick up on it was David Brauer at MinnPost. From there, the snowball rolled. Besides a small army of bloggers, Web sites including National Public Radio, TweetMeme, Tikkun, Time Magazine all republished the letter in a virtual orgy of snark. New York Magazine may have summed it up best:
A Minneapolis Star-Tribune reader named Lily Coyle drafted the perfect answer to Pat Robertson's Haiti hate-speech earlier this week. It's almost enough to make the Bad Thoughts of the Bad Things we want to happen to Pat Robertson stop running on a constant Bad Loop in our head.
Here's the full text of Coyle's letter:
Dear Pat Robertson, I know that you know that all press is good press, so I appreciate the shout-out. And you make God look like a big mean bully who kicks people when they are down, so I'm all over that action. But when you say that Haiti has made a pact with me, it is totally humiliating. I may be evil incarnate, but I'm no welcher. The way you put it, making a deal with me leaves folks desperate and impoverished. Sure, in the afterlife, but when I strike bargains with people, they first get something here on earth -- glamour, beauty, talent, wealth, fame, glory, a golden fiddle. Those Haitians have nothing, and I mean nothing. And that was before the earthquake. Haven't you seen "Crossroads"? Or "Damn Yankees"? If I had a thing going with Haiti, there'd be lots of banks, skyscrapers, SUVs, exclusive night clubs, Botox -- that kind of thing. An 80 percent poverty rate is so not my style. Nothing against it -- I'm just saying: Not how I roll. You're doing great work, Pat, and I don't want to clip your wings -- just, come on, you're making me look bad. And not the good kind of bad. Keep blaming God. That's working. But leave me out of it, please. Or we may need to renegotiate your own contract. Best, Satan.
Here's video of Robertson:
Meanwhile, the public relations folks at Robertson's TV empire had to wipe up his mess with this statement. In point of fairness, it's worth mentioning that, despite Robertson's gaffe, his "700 Club" has embarked on a big humanitarian aid push for victims of the earthquake.