Man, I swear to the heavens and every single deity listening right now, if there ends up being more of an uproar and activist approach to save the damn orcas because of “Blackfish” then there ends up being in the aftermath of “Mission Congo,” then there truly is no justice in this world and we might as well all just give up. SeaWorld may be abusing whales and everyone freaks the fuck out but The 700 Club mastermind and former Presidential candidate Pat Robertson uses money donated for humanitarian purposes to fund his own personal diamond mine and everyone is just as likely to shrug their shoulders and say “oh well what can we do about it?“
Okay you are probably like “woah hold on, what are you going on about?” That is an understandable reaction, as this is only the second screening of this documentary in the United States so far, so suffice to say, not many people have had a chance to see this well put together exposé of Pat Robertson’s dealing with convicted war criminals and his outright lying to his devoted audience, all in the name of making lots and lots of money.
Now, you see, there really is nothing wrong with making money, or lots of money, or even wanting to make lots of money, this is not Pat Robertson’s folly. What “Mission Congo” points out is how Pat Robertson decided to go about in getting his piece of that African diamond mining pie, and that is through PRETENDING to provide aid and relief to refuge camps set up in the wake of the Rwandan genocide of 1994. He would get on the television network he created and which reached millions upon millions of people, and he would crow about these awesome airplanes they bought and how they were sending team after team of medical personnel along with what sounded like just far more supplies and food and medicine than any one nation could handle, let alone a couple of refuge camps. They even flew Robertson over there for some photo ops and to beam back images of hard working people administering medical aid to hundreds of thousands of refugees with no food, water, facilities or support, along with images of Robertson himself being swarmed by cheering children.
Of course this documentary finds the people who actually DID work at those camps, people from organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, and they all recalled a severe LACK of aid and participation from Robertson’s group. And that footage of Robertson’s “teams” working in the medical tents that they showed on television in America and passed off as their own contributions? Oh yeah, totally footage of other people, funded by other sources, working without any help or benefit from Robertson’s “Operation Blessing.” So where was all this money going? Millions of dollars sent in by honest people who tuned in to Robertson’s show to begin with and trusted him because they all shared the same religious beliefs (supposedly), what happened to all of this money? Ole Pat Robertson didn’t just straight up pocket this cash, did he?
Well, he might as well have. “Mission Congo” couples the testimony of people who did not see any aid from “Operation Blessing” while in the trenches themselves with interviews from people who were actually employed by “Operation Blessing.” The inside scoop! That’s the ticket! And boy oh boy do these folks just lay it all out there. Like the pilot who felt compelled to join the cause because he just wanted to help all the people in dire need in those camps, and he volunteered and worked for this group, and after flying one, maybe two, planeloads of Tylenol, he spent the rest of his time with the group flying mining equipment 800-plus miles AWAY from the camps to Robertson’s diamond mining operations in the southern Congo.
Then there’s the story of village of Dumi and how Robertson took the “teach a man to fish” mantra to heart and decided to invest in a farm, creating a sustainable food source for the people there who sorely needed one. And of course on television they aired video of a farm being harvested, grain being separated and ready for use, a large field of crops as far as the eye can see. What they did NOT air on Robertson’s network was the dilapidated field that sat next to Dumi, unable to grow anything. Apparently, American companies with American seeds and American farming techniques came into an African land and did NOTHING to adapt to the new environs. They ignored the advice of the locals and harvested too early and the food was no good. By the same time the following year, the farm was completely abandoned. So what’s the point of this farm story in the grand scheme? So what? It is a failed farm. Not something to be proud of, but not criminal either. So why is it in “Mission Congo?”
Because this farm was installed for an ulterior motive, and it was not to enrich the lives of the people of Dumi. You see, bringing equipment into the Congo for profiteering purposes, like say, diamond mining, brings with it a hefty tax. However, bringing the same equipment into the country for declared humanitarian reasons, like for example, a farm, comes with a hefty tax BREAK. So you set up a cheap farm, get your equipment into the country for next to nothing, and then reroute that equipment to the diamond mine. Easy peasy one two threesy.
Oh wait! There’s more! They even show how Operation Blessing’s website holds up a small school built in Dumi during this time period as a success story and a monument to the legacy of their time spent in that village (click here for that stuff), and then they show the school as it is really, and sure the building is still standing, but the inside is all in ruins, and the chief of the village explains how they have absolutely no money, no commerce and pretty much no hope, and that school is most certainly not in operation in any way, yet there you are, right there on that website, a link for you to donate to continue helping with this cause.
So knowing now that the Rwandan refugee relief effort and things like this farm in Dumi are all fraudulent activities perpetuated by this group, how can anyone belief anything else that they say or do? How can they be trusted with all of this money which they are repeatedly requesting from their flock? How often will these people be fine with being fleeced over and over, just so the shepherds can keep themselves warm with all of their wool, while the sheep freeze to death in the fields?
What now? What now, people? “Blackfish” came out, got played on CNN, all of a sudden everyone is damn fish activist, protesting the theme parks and trying to get people to join them in protest until all the killer whales were set free or something, they really didn’t think that far ahead, but they got a bunch of hack musicians to cancel their gigs to avoid the bad press and SeaWorld reported that attendance is down by 13% and now all these people can pat themselves on the fucking back and call it a day, right? What are you people willing to do when “Mission Congo” comes out and the atrocities actually have human faces on them? Are you all prepared to show at the very least the same amount of outrage at such misdeeds performed in the name of religion and with your money? What about when the movie gets to the part where the Virginia consumer services board investigated Robertson’s actions and concluded he committed fraud, only to have Robertson’s EXTENSIVE political connections straight up squash the whole thing? Will you just shrug your shoulders and say “politics is politics” or some stupid shit like that?
Hopefully this movie will gain some steam as it gets played more in this country, maybe CNN will decide to air it one Saturday night because why the hell not, it worked before why not do it again, and maybe there will finally be some sort of delayed justice for these decades-old crimes that have gone unpunished and seemingly appear to be still in practice to this day. According to this movie anyway.
And hey, if you DO get riled up, please do NOT protest outside of the Holy Land Experience theme park – they are owned by the Trinity Broadcasting Network, and you don’t want to mix them up with Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network.
Also, it appears that recently in December 2o13, the Guardian was compelled by Operation Blessing to APOLOGIZE for repeating the allegations in this movie, namely the failed Dumi school and the lack of assistance and medical teams sent to the camps. Not only did Operation Blessing get this apology and retraction from the Guardian, they put out a very long rebuttal of most of the movie’s main points.
You can read the pablum they spit out here. Or I can sum it up for you. It is primarily OB downplaying the involvement of the people featured in this movie, claiming they have no records of some of them and that others had inflated titles in the movie, and then saying “we have records of these medicines being sent” and “we have records of these teams being sent” and “we have records of this and that.” You buy that? Me neither. Anyone can have records of anything. I can come up with records that say I own a gold mine on the moon, doesn’t make it so. Also they attest that the Dumi school and farm are thriving. Any pictures or evidence of this? Nope. Because that would…help their case? Search “Dumi” on their website and all you get is the same article from 2011 featured in “Mission Congo,” the one talking about how awesome it was that the building for the school was still standing.
Also, they spilled all of those words to try to negate most of the stuff presented in the movie, but of course they are completely silent on the numerous photos and footage of Robertson hanging out with men who would go on to be convicted of their crimes connected to the exact events in the area that prompted the refugees to hit the road and compelled Robertson to the area to begin with. Why was he so cozy with these men? Why did he try to get the UN to leave them alone? Why is the Operation Blessing rebuttal so quiet on that subject?
This is a damn good movie, whether you want to believe what it presents or not, and it definitely brings up some very interesting questions about how people help people in horrible situations, while there are always other people in the wings, ready to abuse the opportunities presented in the wake of these calamities. Is Robertson one of these people? “Mission Congo” definitely thinks so.