Pat Robertson's fatwa?
I've long thought that Pat Robertson is a Class A, no-qualifiers-required asswipe. His latest utterances have done nothing to change my opinion:
Robertson told viewers of his longtime show, "The 700 Club," on Monday that Chavez was turning his oil-rich South American country into "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."
"If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it," said Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition.
Now, I'm no fan of Hugo Chavez. I happen to believe he fudged last year's recall vote, and that he's generally bad news for both the people of Venezuela and the entire hemisphere of the Americas. But calling for his assasination by the United States is just plain wrong.
Of course, I'm not the only one who thinks Robertson needs to stifle himself. In a post entitled "American Taliban" Timmy the G shows he's equally unimpressed:
American Mullah Pat Robertson issues the fatwa against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez...Yes, that Muslim extremism is awful stuff. Christian extremism, however, is as American as...well...wingnut religious "leaders".
It's nice to know that Timmy and I can actually agree on a thing or two, despite our obvious and frequent differences. Where I part ways with him, however, is in his over-the-top invocation of the Taliban.
Yes, Robertson has some influence - that's why we're even talking about this. If it was just some nut on a street corner, it wouldn't be news. But he and other more extreme Christian elements in the U.S. are not stoning women to death. They're not committing state-sanctioned atrocities on a daily basis.
As someone who wants to see Robertson soundly thrashed in the court of public opinion, I cringe at the use of the Taliban as a point of comparison. I think it's a bad idea for a couple of reasons. First of all, by exaggerating the vileness of Robertson and his kind, you give doubters an excuse to dismiss your valid points about the danger he poses. Cry wolf every time you spot a rat and after awhile folks will stop listening to you. Secondly, by equating a fellow like Robertson with Mullah Omar and his band of theocratic thugs, you diminish the memory of the true horrors perpetrated by the Taliban. If Robertson's just a batty old crank, free to blather on like an idiot on the airwaves, and the Taliban was no worse than that, then what was all the fuss about? We should not trivialize mind-numbing brutality, lest we desensitize ourselves to it.
Robertson's brand of thinking deserves to be denounced. But if it's as serious an issue as Timmy asserts, then a more serious treatment is merited. Specious comparisons are counterproductive.
Update: Timmy's response is here, and it's a pretty good one. Apart from the fact that I don't fear the Christian extremists as much as he seems to, I have only one real quibble (which he has since corrected):
"Damian views Robertson as a "crank" with relatively little influence..."
I guess I should have been more clear. What I was trying to get at is this: while some of us understand that the Pat Robertsons of the world pose a real danger, most people don't. They think he's just some harmless crank with a TV show watched only by senile bigots in red states. Only by treating the topic seriously will we have a chance of convincing the average guy to be vigilant.
More on this topic here (ht:Right Ho).
CanConv is all over the story as you might expect, and many of the posts listed are worth reading. One I'd like to point out, however, falls a little short:
Democracy only matters when it’s friendly
and conversely, dictators are only bad if they’re hostile to your interests.
These basic principles of The Real Politik as we all know it, was confirmed again today when Pat Robertson, leader of the Christian Coalition of America said...
Hmm. Robertson stepped down as President of the CC in December 2001. Is it still fair to call him the group's 'leader'? Without clarification of his role in the organization, I think this is a little misleading.
And lastly, half-assed backtracking is just pathetic. If you spoke without thinking, make a full apology and retraction. If you didn't, then stand by your words. But this whole "I didn't say what you think I said" thing is a joke, since we can all go back and read the transcript.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record... What. An. Asswipe.
Oh, and one more thing: it is possible to excoriate Robertson without supporting a brutal thug like Chavez, and without seeing sinister CIA/DoD conspiracies. Just not if you're a lefty. They never learn.