Wednesday, August 7, 2019

JOUR107.1001--Senate Majority Leader & The Witch Doctor--SYMBIOSIS OF VOODOO & POLITICS

J. L'Angelle
Univ of Nevada. Reno
Fall 2019
     (The Peristil)-- Ritual in politics for the 2020 election cycle is now reaching into the realm of the spiritual as the Senate majority leader faces a new and unexpected threat to his personal safety, as reported by Gregg Re across the jungle on the drums;
     "In a livestream video of the protest, Black Lives Matter Louisville leader Chanelle Helm, standing with other demonstrators outside McConnell's home, said that he 'should have broken his little raggedy, wrinkled-(expletive) neck' rather than fracturing his shoulder.
'Just stab the m----- f----- in the heart,' Helm said, after a fellow demonstrator referenced a McConnell voodoo doll." (FOX News)
     Exactly who suggested  the horrible fate for Mitch is unclear and as it is often stated in the media, probably an "anonymous source" that chose not to be identified due to privacy issues.
     For her part, the BLM leader Ms Helm makes light of the voodoo ritual in John P. Wise's report for KFVS, Channel 12;
     "Helm offered no apologies for the protest that has been lighting up social media for two days now. Part of what made the protest controversial was talk of stabbing voodoo doll made to look like McConnell. Helm said it wasn’t serious.
     'Of course, they saw me saying that he should be stabbed in the heart as a voodoo doll as a threat because, that’s violence to them because being outside of his home disrupting his peace, that’s violence to them,' " she said. (KFVS)
Bringing the supernatural into the real world is definitely not a good idea. The history of it in Haiti can be traced as far back as the early slave plantations before independence.

     Michel Laguerre, the foremost expert on Haitian voodoo, author of Voodoo and Politics (St. Martin's Press, NY 1989) was convinced that the two have a symbiotic relationship;
     "Laguerre claims that secret Voodoo societies exist beneath the government of Port-au-Prince and that these societies are sources of civil government and political power vis a vis the country's government. This claim has much influenced Wade Davis who made this thesis central to his study of zombification in Haiti. However, the thesis leaves one with certain suspicions. If Voodoo is not to be regarded as a quietist religion which leaves people at the mercy of the loa, the spirits, and if it is to be seen as a sources of political organization for the common people, then it must be seen as an extremely ineffective political organization." (
     Haitian mixing of politics and voodoo has fascinated media for decades and was the topic of Mike Dorning's Chicago Tribune article in 1994;
     "Likewise, the voodoo religion exerts an influence on decisions taken in the national palace. The Haitian military chose to broadcast the declaration of a state of siege Aug. 1 at the seemingly peculiar hour of 3 a.m., the time of night when voodoo spirits are believed to be strongest, observed a U.S. Embassy spokesman.
Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, the country's dictator until 1971, cloaked his long rule in numerous voodoo images and cultivated rumors that his palace secretly was guarded by zombies. He added to his dominion over rural areas by exercising influence through, among others, local voodoo priests." (Dorning, Tribune)
Voodoo influencing politics isn't nearly as troublesome as politics influencing voodoo, according to some of the local witch doctors, the houngans and mambos.

     Perhaps one of the most powerful political leaders who combined the forces of voodoo and politics was the notorious Haitian President Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, in power from 1957 to 1971;

     "A contributor to the daily Action Nationale (1934), Duvalier was markedly influenced by the mystic scholar Lorimer Denis and became a member of Le Groupe des Griots, a circle of writers who embraced black nationalism and voodoo as the key sources of Haitian culture." (Britannica)
To maintain his grip on power, Papa Doc created what came to be known as "The Bogeymen," or Ton Ton Macoutes;
     "In 1959, only two years after becoming president, 'Papa Doc' created a paramilitary force that would report only to him and would be fully empowered to use unremitting violence to maintain the new administration’s authority to summarily dispose of its enemies. This marked the birth of one of the most brutal paramilitary organizations in the hemisphere and was justified by the leader’s profound paranoia towards the threat posed by the regular armed forces." (COHA)
     The article describes the intimate relationship between the oppressive regime of Duvalier and the Ton Tons, whose leaders were higher ups in the voodoo culture. The spiritual power of the secret religion was not lost on the President.
     To what degree the local rep for Black Lives Matter hoped for some evil divine intervention by reference to the voodoo doll, along with the unnamed source, is a rather moot point, based as she described as "not serious." In real life, voodoo and its relationship to politics is all too real.

Late Update: 08/08/19/1140PDT:
     As for the BLM rep, it appears her FB account was temporarily locked due to a post related to voodoo:

Works Cited
Re, G.,
Wise, JP.,
Book Cover,
Dorning, M.,
Papa Doc,

NOTE: Recent University of Nevada, Reno, (Summer 2019)  final exam in Core Humanities 212 with Dr. Stephen Pasqualina included an essay question on Haitian voodoo and zombies. The author of this article received an "A" on the final.