I had planned to use this post to comment on Robertson’s original “take him out” tirade against Hugo Chavez, but really, is he worth it? One shouldn’t mock the afflicted, after all.
Anyway, the text of Robertson’s original comments, his first, hilarious (not to mention mendacious) non-retraction (“I didn’t say ‘assassination.’ I said our, uh, our special forces should, quote, ‘take him out.’ And ‘take him out’ can be a lot, a number of things, including kidnapping”), and his written statement “to clarify remarks made on the Monday, August 22nd edition of The 700 Club”, can be found here.
How anybody could describe that statement as an “apology” is beyond me. OK, Robertson says he apologises for using the word “assassination”, but then he goes on to say, “would it not be wiser to wage war against one person rather than finding ourselves down the road locked in a bitter struggle with a whole nation?” (Y’know, I’m sure I’ve heard a comment not entirely dissimilar to that somewhere before.)
Further down the statement, Robertson invokes the example of “the brilliant Protestant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer”, and his decision to “lend his support to those in Germany who had joined together in an attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler”. So Pat Robertson thinks that he is Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Chavez is Adolf Hitler? Pathetic.
Bonhoeffer made the decisions he did at the end of a long process of peaceful resistance to Nazi rule, and he did so knowing he faced imprisonment, torture and death if caught. He would be appalled to find his example being used as implicit justification for a “doctrine of assassination” in any circumstances. But to use Bonhoeffer’s example to support actions, not by desperate individuals living under tyranny, but by the most powerful nation in the world in order to uphold that nation’s economic and strategic interests through the murder of a democratically elected leader? Just pathetic.
Anyway, let’s move on to some interesting links concerning this fiasco. First off, Rick Ritchie suggests that Robertson’s outbursts over the years support Neil Postman’s argument that “anything important suffered when it was covered on television”:
The three areas of life that were too important to leave to television were politics, news, and religion. Robertson has managed to mangle all three at the same time.
The British politics blog Blood & Treasure asks, “Who would Jesus kill?” (language warning). Opening with a nice Fast Show reference – “This week, the Rev. Pat Robertson mostly wants to kill Hugo Chavez” – Jamie Kenny goes on to look at some of Robertson’s other proposed targets in the past: Osama bin Laden, people who’ve seen UFOs, “Ah, **** it. KILL THEM ALL!”.
The Guardian gives some background to Chavez and his two fingers to America (see picture, left). Interesting read, though from a very pro-Chavez perspective. It argues that the main reason for US antipathy toward Chavez is his support for Cuba, which has been “the grateful recipient of cheap Venezuelan oil, replacing the subsidised oil it once used to receive from the Soviet Union”. But that doesn’t mean Chavez is a new Castro:
[A]lthough his rhetoric is revolutionary, his reforms have been moderate and social democratic. He criticises the policies of “savage neo-liberalism” that have done so much harm to the poorer peoples of Venezuela and Latin America in the past 20 years, yet the private sector is still alive and well. His land reform is aimed chiefly at unproductive land and provides for compensation.
His most obvious achievement, which should not have been controversial, has been to channel increased oil revenues into a fresh range of social projects that bring health and education into neglected shanty-towns.
As this article concludes, were Robertson’s wish to become somebody’s command, the results could be tragic for Venezuela:
Assassinations may be easy to plan, and not difficult to accomplish. But their legacy is incalculable. The radical leader of neighbouring Colombia, Jorge Gaitán, was assassinated more than 50 years ago, in 1948. In terms of civil war and violence, the Colombians have been paying the price ever since. No one would wish that fate on Venezuela.
Not even, one would hope, Pat Robertson.