Pat Robertson doesn’t have a monopoly on ignorance, he’s just heavily invested in it. Like his ideological twin in the White House, Robertson’s tongue simply outpaces his wit and gets him in trouble from time to time. It’s no big deal.
When did it become a crime to be an old man in the grip of senility?
Actually we should be grateful to the prattling preacher for summarizing American foreign policy so succinctly.
“I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination,” Robertson sheepishly admitted, “but, if he really thinks we are trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”
Who could argue with that logic? Certainly, no one in the White House where such policies are part of a long tradition.
Of course, some sticklers to convention might find something wrong with the head of the Christian Coalition supporting state-sponsored murder, but Robertson isn’t troubled by such quibbling. The real question for him is whether to “whack” Chavez before he turns the other cheek or after.
This isn’t the first time that Robertson’s been in hot water for his off-the-wall comments. Once he declared that feminism “encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”
It sounds to me like Robertson might be a bit nostalgic for the good old days of the 13th Century when women could be trundled off to the public square and burned at the stake. Is that what he means by “family values”?
It’s not only women that bother Robertson either, but homosexuals as well. He once warned the people of Orlando, Florida that if they didn’t stop celebrating Gay Pride month at Disney World God would send “some serious hurricanes…It’ll bring about terrorist bombs. It’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.”
“Meteors”? Maybe, but it sounds like Robertson’s crystal ball might be fogging up a bit with age. What difference does it make anyway? Is it really worth putting the old guy through the predictable regimen of self-abasement and repentance that’s coming? Do we really need to see another regional icon dragging himself through the streets in sackcloth and ashes?
What purpose does it serve?
Think of the positive side, at least when the reverend is dazzling the world with his political acumen he’s not extorting money from old ladies on the 700 Club. Besides, Robertson was just putting an exclamation point behind a policy that is already in place.
It’s no secret that the Bush administration has been looking for a way to topple Chavez. Their involvement in the coup three years ago is now part of the public record. Perhaps, that explains Donald Rumsfeld’s bland response that Robertson “is a private citizen. Private citizens say all kinds of things all the time.”
Of course, Rumsfeld failed to add that if Robertson was Muslim he’d be dragged off in leg irons and plunked at Guantanamo Bay. Instead, he’ll get a mild public rebuke and retain his prestigious place among America’s class warriors.
It is Robertson’s less celebrated remarks that are really worth considering. He said that Chavez had “destroyed the Venezuelan economy” and was turning Venezuela into a “launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.”
The claim of “Muslim extremism” is too far fetched to even consider, but the “communism” charge gets to the heart of the matter and the real reason why Chavez is so reviled by the oligarchs in the Bush administration. Chavez has initiated mild reforms that has redistributed some of Venezuela’s prodigious oil wealth and created free health care, free education, jobs-training programs, and welfare assistance -- all the policies that are anathema to the elite cadres of capitalists in the Bush administration. Robertson shares their contempt for these “redistributive” programs and merely echoed that hatred in his statement. That’s why it’s unlikely that his punishment will be too harsh.
If Robertson is to be accused of a crime it should be about something of substance not his foolish blathering about Chavez. His real failing as a religious leader is that he has never defended the rights or liberties of the downtrodden he pretends to represent. He has never spoken out against the horrific abuses at either Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, nor has he wavered in his support for a war that has killed over 100,000 Iraqis. Instead, he has used his position to fatten the coffers at the 700 Club and to conceal his unbridled disdain for gays, women and Muslims.
There is a Biblical precedent for men like Robertson, but it has nothing to do with “The Golden Rule.” It’s all about duplicity, like Matthew says in the Gospel:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the Law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24)
Self righteousness is not righteousness. Robertson should pay a little more attention to the Book he says he believes in.
Mike Whitney lives in Washington state, and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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