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It didn’t take Pat Robertson long, did it?
He couldn’t even wait until his younger protégé, Bob McDonnell, was sworn in as the next governor of Virginia before he put the spotlight on himself.
In the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, Robertson took a new opportunity to make an ignorant and hateful remark about Muslims, something he’s done before. This time, though, he set a new standard in expressing his loathing for Islam.
Speaking on his “700 Club” broadcast, Robertson said - and this is the direct quote - “Islam is a violent - I was going to say religion, but it’s not a religion. It’s a political system. It’s a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination.”
He added, “I think we should treat it as such and treat its adherents as such, as we would members of the Communist Party or members of some fascist group.”
There’s so much that’s wrong with that statement it’s hard to know where to begin in correcting it. First…sorry, reverend. But Islam is certainly a religion; one of the world’s three major religions and currently the fastest growing.
It’s pretty obvious that Robertson can make no distinction whatsoever between the very small number of Muslims who pursue “jihad” and those many millions who - like their counterparts in Judaism and Christianity - simply live and practice their religion, working, praying, and hoping to go to heaven when they die.
There’s no part of the statement that isn’t either flat out wrong or just very revealing of the reverend’s personal contempt for the religion of Islam and its adherents. But we knew this already about him, didn’t we?
What makes it different now is his connection to the man we just elected governor of Virginia. Bob McDonnell is a product of Pat Robertson’s world. He went to both CBN University Law School and Regent University. Robertson once promoted McDonnell as the very role model of “the kind of young man I wanted to produce” at Regent.
The reverend even made a $25,000 contribution to McDonnell’s campaign in the closing weeks of the race and had contributed prior to that. If conservatives held Barack Obama accountable for every word that ever came out of Jeremiah Wright’s mouth - as they certainly did - shouldn’t they apply the same standard to Bob McDonnell and Pat Robertson?
During the campaign, the press in Virginia let McDonnell get away with playing down his religious right views and his connection to Robertson. Not one reporter in the state had the guts to simply ask: Is there, Mr. McDonnell, a single issue where you disagree with Pat Robertson?
The answer might have been illuminating, but no one was interested in finding out. Given McDonnell’s success in the election, his impressive collection of votes from every single voting bloc except partisan Democrats, there’s no doubt that a fair amount of Muslims in Virginia voted for him. They have every right to wonder, as we all should, if he shares the views of his spiritual mentor.
McDonnell spoke before a Muslim group in Northern Virginia that hosted him for lunch during the campaign. The leader of the mosque in that area said this about McDonnell, according to the Washington Post, “He promised and campaigned to be the governor for all Virginians. Therefore, we expect him to distance himself from such remarks of hate toward very contributing, very loyal Americans in this area.”
Barack Obama distanced himself from Jeremiah Wright and even left the church. How long can McDonnell ignore the rantings of his spiritual mentor? Chances are Pat Robertson is just getting started.
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, is a member of the Roanoke City Democratic Committee, and can be reached by e-mail at NewCenHowell@aol.com.