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Pat Robertson Declares
Fatwah On Chavez

By Leigh Saavedra

24 August, 2005

When a good friend referred to Pat Robertson's call to assassinate Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, as a "declaration of a fatwah on a president" I laughed, appreciative of the irony.

In the minutes since then, however, I've had to agree that the words are less than a hair's width from total accuracy. What the founder of the Christian Coalition of America and former Republican presidential candidate said to the widely viewed "700 Club" was precisely this: "You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he [referring to Chavez] thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.

"It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war," the globally-viewed televangelist continued, "... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Ah, there you have it. Oil shipments. There are often those oil shipments lurking behind the loud cry to defend America. We do have to remember during the friction between Venezuela and the U.S. that Venezuela, as the fifth largest oil exporter in the world, pumps 3.1 million barrels a day, over half of it consumed by the United States. Chavez is looking for other buyers, but that's another story.

Besides, these few words are not about Hugo Chavez, who cannot fit into a short paper, but about the sheer hypocrisy of a man who has influenced millions of Americans who, in turn, have listened to their religious leaders who told them to vote for George Bush and who have then supported the strange mantra that "Bush is a man of God."

It wasn't a brief slip of the tongue. Robertson was apparently wound up and ready to go (as long as he didn't have to be in the physical line of fire). He went on: "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

To stop the mass exodus from our nation that would surely take place if good people thought our leaders would embrace Robertson's ideas, I must add that the US State Department said nothing to support Robertson this time, even announced that his comments were "inappropriate" and did not reflect the policy of the US. That doesn't, of course, mean that there are not people in high places trying to find a way to spray weapons-grade cyanide from Chavez' telephone into his eardrum.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld commented on the incident at a Pentagon news conference by saying, "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law." Perhaps the law has been re-written since the 1973 murder of Salvadore Allende, popularly elected president of Chile.

Venezuela didn't take too well to Robertson's advice. Its vice president, Jose Vicente Rangel, said the country is studying its legal options. "It's huge hypocrisy to maintain this discourse against terrorism and at the same time, in the heart of that country there are entirely terrorist statements like those."

Rangel further and importantly said that Robertson's comments "reveal that religious fundamentalism is one of the great problems facing humanity in these times."

It's hard to dispute the vice president -- the Venezuelan one, I mean. How can you bow your head in prayer, rant and rave about the need to get rid of terrorists, and suggest we kill the president of a sovereign country, all in the same airspace?

What comes to mind at the moment is a bumper sticker I saw from someone opposing abortion. "Just what is it about 'Thou shalt not kill' that you don't get?"

In dark moments, I feel that we're pioneers trying to get from the beginning of the trip to the end, and we suddenly find ourselves crouching near the fire, surrounded by wolves. All around us are churchgoing people who wave their flags and turn the tv to Robertson's '700 Club' and stand with pre-war German Nazi posture (remember Hitler's Germany was "Christian") to salute and say the Pledge of Allegiance, all touting their nationalistic and Christian beliefs. But they are the same people who support the administration's destruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. And when someone with the clout of Pat Robertson tells them we need to get into the assassination business in between battling terrorists who might swim ashore and take Richmond and warding off the socialist armies of Latin America before they finish building their recruitment offices, many of these people are getting a sort of viagra through their feeding tubes.

In response to a lot of outrage over Robertson's words, a spokeswoman for the Christian Broadcasting Network told the BBC: "We are at a time of war (sic) and Pat had war on his mind when he made the comments." I would humbly suggest that Pat take his mind off war and consider his boss, the Prince of Peace, when he speaks as a religious leader.

Fortunately, we can hope that such venom as Robertson spouted on Monday will make some of the viewers begin to question the powerful political bloc (the Christian Coalition) that has contributed to the trip we have made to the precarious cliff on which we are now perched.

Lest I sound anti-Christian in any way, great kudos to all those Christians who actually include the laws of Christ in their set of beliefs and who are writing and speaking to condemn Robertson's words. One passed out a letter today, suggesting that instead of trying to get the Ten Commandments posted in U.S. courthouses and schools, Robertson would do better to spend his time READING them.

The world is filled with true Christians, ones who read the bible instead of thumping it with pre-selected passages extracted for their interpretations to fit the moment. Those are the Christians who, I would hope, shut their eyes sadly at Robertson's assurances that "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability."

If I personally had any love for Pat Robertson (I don't) and wanted to comfort him (I don't), I'd pass
on the very possible assurance that the CIA already has a hundred drawing boards set up with plans to take care of Mr. Chavez.

Leigh Saavedra, writing poetry, fiction and political commentary for many years as Lisa Walsh Thomas, is a veteran peace activist. She has authored two books, the current one, "The Girl with Yellow Flowers in her Hair," available through Leigh appreciates
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