Pat Robertson's Hit List
It isn't only Chavez he wants gone.
Pat Robertson has apologized for his Khomeini-style fatwa against Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela (" ... if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it"). Well, sort of apologized. First he said this:
Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement. I spoke in frustration that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him.
Almost immediately, though, he took it back:
I said before the war in Iraq began that the wisest course would be to wage war against Saddam Hussein, not the whole nation of Iraq. When faced with the threat of a comparable dictator in our own hemisphere, would it not be wiser to wage war against one person rather than finding ourselves down the road locked in another bitter struggle with a whole nation?
Robertson went on to quote "the brilliant Protestant theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer," who participated in an unsuccessful plan to assassinate Adolf Hitler:
If I see a madman driving a car into a group of innocent bystanders, then I can't, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe and then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.
In citing Bonhoeffer *, whose "example deserves our respect and consideration today," Robertson was suggestng that killing Chavez would be every bit as justified as killing Hitler. Never mind that Hitler was in the process of conquering Europe and killing 6 million Jews, while Chavez merely presides over a government whose Marxism has proved mildly irritating to the U.S. government.
But in bumping off Chavez, Robertson was just warming up.
Don't forget David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and John Paul Stevens—the Supreme Court justices whose deaths Robertson presumably has in mind while he prays that "additional vacancies occur within the Supreme Court." Would killing them be equivalent to killing Hitler, too?
Then there are "the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America." If only they'd been killed prior to the 9/11 attacks, we could have avoided that tragedy, since they "helped this happen" by "trying to secularize America." The words are Jerry Falwell's, not Robertson's, but Robertson appeared on The 700 Club when Falwell made these remarks, and he didn't exactly object. Instead, he answered with a diatribe against the forces of secularism that sounded very much like agreement. (Falwell has since apologized; Robertson has not.)
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.