Pat Robertson sabotages Bush's courtship of Muslims.
On Sunday, Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson appeared on ABC's This Week to rebut President Bush's claims that Islam is peaceful. Robertson theorized that Bush "does not want to be fighting all of Islam and he didn't want to set this thing up as a holy war, and he was very wise. He's playing geopolitics, and in that case it is a very smart move."
OK. Bush doesn't want the world's 1 billion Muslims to think Americans are hostile to Islam. So what did Robertson tell the ABC audience about Islam? "There is absolute, veritable hatred of Jews and the idea that every Jew has got to be killed before the culmination of the age. That's what Islam teaches," he said. "It's violent at its core."
Isn't this the kind of Muslim-bashing Bush was trying to avoid? Heavens, no, said Robertson. "The last thing I want to do is set myself up against Muslim people, because many of them are seeking to find the Lord." And why, in Robertson's view, are Muslims still seeking—i.e., not yet finding—the Lord? Because they haven't found Christ.
Robertson concluded that Bush "doesn't want this to be a Muslim-Christian fight or a Muslim-America fight. The Muslims are trying to make it that way, I might add. ... Iran called us the great Satan, and these people are violent. … This is the kind of people they are. They murder their enemies, and the president didn't want to get involved in that. I don't blame him for it." Indeed, said Robertson, "I'm one of his big supporters. I think I played a significant role in getting him elected. ... One little dispute doesn't separate friends. I just, I don't want to play this thing out of proportion."
Let's review Robertson's comments. 1) To win the war, Bush needs to avoid saying Islam is rotten. 2) Islam is rotten. 3) I'm Bush's best friend. 4) I'm not against Muslims; I just want them to stop being Muslims. 5) The only people trying to make this a Muslim-Christian thing are those rotten Muslims. 6) I want everyone watching this TV show to know that this issue is no big deal.
Guess which religion needs damage control now.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.
Photograph of Pat Robertson by Andrew Wong/Reuters.