Today Robertson apologized for the remark, first denying that he had called for the assassination and later coming to a full blown recant, but in characteristically backwards fashion. In a statement on his website, Robertson said, "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."
For your convenience here is a breakdown of the leaps in logic of this statement:
1. "Is it right to call for assassination?"
Robertson posses the ethical question.
2. "No, and I apologize for that statement."
Robertson answers the ethical question, and concludes that calling for an assassination was ethically wrong.
3. "I spoke in frustration . . ."
Robertson begins an explanation of why he made the statement he admitted was ethically wrong . . .
4. ". . . that we should accommodate the man who thinks the U.S. is out to kill him."
. . . and concludes that we should kill the man, in contradiction to the ethical principle he enunciated in the first statement, and effectively restates the position he claimed to recant and apologize for.
This remark by Robertson is the latest in a string of controversial comments. Ron Hutchinson of Knight-Ridder newspapers noted:
- He suggested that the September 11th terrorist attacks occurred because "we have insulted God at the highest level of our government."
- He once warned Orlando, Florida that God might send hurricanes its way if Disney World continued to recognize gay-pride events.
- He has said feminism encourages women to kill their children and become lesbians.
- He once called for blowing up the State Department with a nuclear device.
- He said he considered liberal judges a more serious threat to America than "a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings."
What does all of this mean? It seems rather anticlimactic to say that Robertson is an idiot or an extremist. That's fairly obvious. What needs to be taken into account is the mass audience that Robertson has. Thet 700 Club reaches 1 million viewers with each episode. Robertson is still a powerful political figure in America.
Now consider this excerpt:
"Praise be to God, who revealed the Book, controls the clouds, defeats factionalism, and says in His Book 'But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the pagans wherever ye find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war)' . . . The Arabian Peninsula has never--since God made it flat, created its desert, and encircled it with seas--been stormed by any forces like the crusader armies now spreading in it like locusts, consuming its riches and destroying its plantations. All this is happening at a time when nations are attacking Muslims like people fighting over a plate of food. In the light of the grave situation and the lack of support, we and you are obliged to discuss current events, and we should all agree on how to settle the matter . . .The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of all the lands of Islam, defeated and unable to threaten any Muslim."
This is taken from Osama bin Laden's fatwa on America. Read closely and find the ideas behind the quote. According to this excerpt, God's chosen people have the obligation to kill those in other countries who threaten their homeland.
This is the same argument that Robertson used in his video statement on President Chavez. Religious zealots are cut from the same cloth.
As final note, Robertson's remarks elicited interesting reaction from the White House. Donald Rumsfeld commented that "Our department doesn't do that kind of thing. It's against the law," and State Department spokesman Sean McCormack called the comments "inappropriate" and incompatible with U.S. policy. You know you've gone too far to the right when even the Bush administration does not want to invade.