There is something not only rotten but seemingly deranged in the state of mind of Republican leaders. I would call Pat Robertson a Republican leader. He did well in a few Republican primaries back in 1988 until scandal hit the whole Evangelical enterprise, which Mr. Robertson assumed was a Bush Sr./Lee Atwater conspiracy. It seemed convenient, he thought, that the scandal hit just as he was hitting his stride.
Reverend Pat made peace and perhaps a pact with the powers that be and currently has a direct line to the White House. He, with Jerry Falwell, claims to have helped make the double-barrel-two term Bush presidency possible. On Monday the iconic American Christian using the language of gangsters endorsed the assassination of Hugo Chavez so we could save 200 billion dollars. The assumption was that the only two alternatives to dealing with an elected leader who is critical of the military industrial complex running our country is to “take him out” or to wage a war. He presents the options and then chooses the less expensive one.
One does pause to wonder if he is not a loose cannon but that the direct line to the White House runs both ways. If in fact Venezuela and Iran are considering an oil embargo against the US, this may not be a random Christian perspective from the baby- faced aw-shucks father figure for the consumers of sign-on-the-dotted-line religion. Could this be a request from the top? Either Mr. Robertson is truly out of his mind or he is “useful,” a word that Rumsfeld loves to use. When asked about the comment Rumsfeld referred to Robertson as a “private citizen” and rather than condemn the comment he said, “private citizens say all kinds of things all the time. Next question.”
How would this endorsement of assassination from the giddy Evangelical be “useful” and to whom would it be useful? Does a holy Christian man rattling a saber make any sense to the essential logic of Christ? On the subject of sabers, rattling or penetrating, Christ said, if you live by the sword you die by the sword.
But here is the most amazing, confounding thing Christ said – Love your enemy. This phrase means nothing to the most boisterous Christians like Pat Robertson. To them, this phrase is invisible. In their minds, it is a soft, silly lapse in the Savior’s prescription for the salvation of the world. The Passion of Christ was a bloody canvas for paranoid sadism. The prime actors against Jesus, the alleged center of Pat Robertson’s universe, were soldiers taking orders from the likes of Mr. Robertson. Pat Robertson sees an assassin and an army as legitimate functionaries in realizing his view of a safe and decent world.
We can certainly paraphrase the question standing before the president in Crawford: “What noble cause did my son die for?” What noble cause will be served by Pat Robertson’s Fatwa?
In December 2000 the incoming administration declared Hugo Chavez a threat because he was selling oil to Cuba. And now, if Venezuela is going to block the sale of their nationalized oil to the U.S. what does that mean to a Christian leader? Does he have investments he’s worried about? Does he believe Venezuela will be a conduit for terrorism and communism and anti-Christian principles? Does he want to make that case or would he prefer that his government “off” an elected leader who just happens to urge OPEC convert officially the standard of buying oil from the dollar to the Euro?
Hugo Chavez speaks at length to his people over the TV – and he reads to them. One of his favorite authors to read to his people is Walt Whitman. At the Youth Conference in Caracas earlier this month he called the people of the U.S. “brothers” to Venezuela. He embraced the traditions of Walt Whitman and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and gave them as examples of the progressive history of the U.S. Walt Whitman understood spirit and America. Pat Robertson contradicts both.
One would think the FCC, under some aspect of the Patriot Act might revoke Robertson’s license to broadcast. If he’s out of his mind they might – if he’s in the loop – they won’t. Stay tuned.
Bill C. Davis can be reached at [email protected]