Religious Right

Pro-Life and Pro-Terror?

Here’s Salon.com quoting Pat Robertson’s interesting approach to popularly elected leaders of other sovereign nations. Pat Robertson is a great teacher and leader of the so-called Christian right. But if the only trump values are oil and power – how is that Christian?

Pat Robertson is all about the sanctity of human life — except when he isn’t. The Christian Coalition founder and Christianist political activist said on his television show Monday that it’s time for the United States to stop Venezuela from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.” How do you do that? Assassinate the president, Robertson says.

“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” the Associated Press quotes Robertson as saying. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,” Robertson said. ”It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war . . . and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”

Ahh. As long as no oil shipments stop.

He sees in Venezuela “communist infiltration and muslim extremism”. Wow. That sounds almost like the take Presidents Johnson and Nixon had on Vietman, only more ecumenical. I’ll bet Osama and Saddam and MTV are involved too. And maybe even Senator Hagel and the Dixie Chicks and the teletubbies.

Some people have funny little hangups about destroying other people’s lives and manipulating other governments by violence and lawlessness. Some people call that “terrorism,” and launch wars against it. But for Robertson it seems it’s not terror as long WE do it – we’re the good guys after all – and especially if we do it to keep other people’s oil flowing into the right hands.

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  • Did he apologize?
    Pat Robertson has gone back on his dark suggestions. He owned the error of having gone too far. I appreciate this, for by virtue of this step the affair ranks different from that unspeakable Iranian „death sentence“ against Salman Rushdie. It is a small victory of public protest though also commendably being due to some degree of restraint on the part of Mr. Robertson.
    Nevertheless, it is advisable to take a closer look at the “clarifying statement” (1) he released on Wednesday shortly after making public innuendo. For I do not, to be frank about it, think this clarification should be hailed as an apology.
    The question is, can there be an apology without the avowal of either having been wrong (in one’s assumptions), or having done wrong (in jumping to rash or improper conclusions)? As a matter of fact, Mr. Robertson has pleaded guilty of having done wrong by one single sentence the large tenor of which is meant to show the jumping was improper while the conclusion is right.
    Do we really need abiding by a concept of apology that much twisted? – I honor the last but second sentence of his declaration (respect other opinions) for you can accept dissent on the basis of some sort of civil tranquility in human relations, called tolerance. But with a look to the point at issue he simply begs the question. For the real harm was not done by the rude ring of his words, or any squabble ensuing, – nobody has worried agitation could rise a crowd setting out to lynch Mr. Chávez – it is the poaching up sentiment in public opinion that may tip the balance to encourage secret services taking long planned action, – or, respectively, people not protesting in case they will do, thus laying the groundwork for even more future encroachment of CIA & Co. upon states politics. In short, Mr. Robertson’s fault was not lapse but, just as I said, innuendo: defamation cum suggestion. In this respect he has been fairly clear, and he is still clear in quibbling. He blows up the difference between the options of killing or kidnapping, all while sustaining confusion as to which he refers. For his original reference was ambiguous (“doctrine of assassiation” / “take him out” (1)) while the clarification (“call for assassination is not right”(1) does not fit his (renewed) argument, which bears on political considerations, not morals. In case of a genuinely devoted democratic leader, you are all but destroying his life alongside with his life work, as we saw on September 11 of 1973 with the suicide of Salvador Allende of Chile. Conversely, with the tyrannical ruler of Bagdad, nobody has remonstrated as the U.S. tried first to attempt on his life with a targeted missile attack at the outset of the war. This is to say, if Mr. Robertson does needs feel called upon to preach the U.S. must step in he should nicely have stood by his conclusions, which would possibly have reminded him of his responsibility to sustain his classification of Venezuela as a dictatorship with a modicum of trueness to facts.

    Here is not the space to go in for all the allegations against Mr. Chávez and prove his regime as non-dictatorial, though surely marked by a pronounced authoritarianism and, perhaps, some version of overbearing leadership. (For example, he changes his minsters at an unsoundly high rate, several months being the norm.) The most convincing evidence is probably the longtime fiercely controversial relationship between the federal government of Mr. Chávez and the states authorities esp. of (the Northern and fairly wealthy state of) Miranda, where up to the October 04 gubernatorial and communal elections, an implacable enemy of Chávez, Mr. Enrique Mendoza, put the resources of his state to the end of opposing the social agenda of the “Bolivarian Revolution”. In Oct. 04 Mendoza lost re-election to an ally of Chávez by a narrow margin, of course this outcome rising again the inevitable cries against fraud. Yet, Mr. Mendoza had even participated, according to Le Monde diplomatique (2) (General access only to French edition, find words: “Le jour du coup”) in the the coup d’état of April 02, (which Robertson refers to, erroneously, see below, as “popular coup” (outset of (1)) and Mr. Chávez didn’t even dream of challenging his stay in office for two and a half more years. Neither did he use dictatorial methods against the Supreme Court of Venezuela which, on August 14 2002 ruled by 11 to 8 to refuse taking legal action against four officers charged with military rebellion in the April coup. (2a)(Find words: “La tension monte”) Does anyone indeed see the fibre of Saddam shine through?

    There is a very elucidating article in the English edition of Le Monde diplomatique, which casts some light on how such rumours as Mr. Robertson takes at face value come up. I strongly invite you to read this article. It also shows how much distorted a version of the April 02 coup Mr. Robertson voices. At the core of this queer reception, according to Maurice Lemoine (5), are the private media and their propensity to turn the eyes on what their owners like to hear (vested interests) and what is nice to watch (i.e. not the lives of have-nots).

    Venezuela‘s enmities with neighboring Columbia, which Mr. Robertson describes in such a way as to make you think Columbia is the first victim of a continent-wide Chávistean grab for power, are thoroughly mutual, this relationship being, as far as I can see, a continuous skirmish. See for an instance of it, Wikipedia (3)(Find words: “Arrest of Alleged Paramilitaries”) Columbia is something like the paragon of neo-liberal social (dis-)organization, being much to the taste of corporate America, and, as it looks, the one kind of liberalism televengelists are doting on. Yet even Columbian president Alvaro Uribe Veléz accepted the outcome of the 2004 referendum (Le Monde diplomatique (2)).

    Of course, Mr. Chávez is no congenital saint: He has at least one putsch in 1992 on his hands, that cost 97 lives and put him into jail. It was directed against democratically elected president Carlos Andrés Pérez, but, according to Wikipedia (4) earned him much sympathy with the lower class, for Pérez was later on impeached and convicted for corruption. On the other hand, who does earnestly think it is possible for any South American president to bring about genuine change in one of those deeply divided societies, while not having recourse to some degree of rugged resilience?
    The “Bolivarian Revolution Policy does indeed exacerbate vast portions of middle-class society, including all those meaner people who, voluntarily or not, match their outlook to the opinions of those whom they depend on. According to a book I recently read, which is written as a kind of journal of a trip to Venezuela, this includes quite a lot of hard-working, well-educated people, white-collar workers, technical engineers (chiefly of petroleum industry), also housewives, part of the military etc. But does this entitle anyone to portray Mr. Chávez as the scourge of his people? As long as the democratic processes are intact, there is always some kind of social test putting a check on any kind of populism that threatens get out of touch with reality. Thus, during 2003, Chávez‘s popularity languished and might easily have slumped and gone for good. And the memory of Nicaragua 1989 reneging on Sandinism proves that even “revolutionary” democratic socialism in Latin America is very well reversible.
    Furthermore, if Mr. Robertson claims Chávez has wrecked the economy one should at least remember that a huge share in that work is hold by the opposition-led general strike in late 02-early 03 (3) (find “Strike/lockout” for just a brief note on that strike, can’t back it further here) which was designed to specifically hurt the government and the poor. The losses due to that strike were considerable and would, if occurred in proportionate size in the U.S., have doubtlessly served the Bush administration as a pretext to decline responsibility for economic doldrums in several years to follow such losses. Quite apart from that, due to high oil prices the latest development in Venezuelan economy isn’t as bad as that, but rather reinforces a trend holding since the October 04 regional elections that sees opposition disorganized and inner tensions abating, with some parts of the middle-class even making peace with Mr. Chávez. (6) But then, this is perhaps the very thing Mr. Robertson fears most (6) (On this site, you will also find information about the 2002 coup d’état and the freedom of the press.)

    Thus, by hearing Mr. Robertson mourn you will get the impression that some ilk of American know-it-alls are shedding crocodile tears. The people most severely affected by bad economy or general strikes are nothing but ammunition for their propaganda. Evidently we shall discount their express vote, for they will not cease to be staunch allies of their president, of whom we unshakably know (I guess from God) that he is a tyrant. Nothing will induce the Christian Right to call for the U.S. finally end its policy of regularly taking the part of social reaction whenever civil conflict arises in Latin America. Why do they not demand the U.S. government to work for patronizing some kind of social contract throughout this hemisphere? If they did, the door would gradually open to allow for a kind of prosperity that cannot be captured in Wall Street courses, but even more affects the lives and hearts of men. Evidently Mr. Robertson and his friends yearn for a stable world view that assures them of the holiness of their mission as a spiritual élite class in a cultural élite nation being despised and hated all over the world by the unbridled, socialism-cum-islam-prone masses. Let’s pray that honest American Christians will finally see through this paranoid imposture, and resume to work for the real mission of Christ.

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