So, Pat Robertson has apologized for saying ''You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he 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, and I don't think any oil shipments will stop.'' on Monday. However, when he apologized he said ''I didn't say 'assassination.' I said our special forces should 'take him out.' 'Take him out' could be a number of things including kidnapping."
Well, as Jon Stewart pointed out last night, Robertson used "assassinate" as a verb and not a noun. So maybe he didn't really mean it. (Watch Jon Stewart here)
Okay. Here's my real point. If Pat Robertson really believed you should "Love thy neighbor as yourself", he would never have had to apologize for what he said...because he wouldn't have said it in the first place.
And if Robertson was really a Christian (and believed in the Golden Rule), I wouldn't now be calling for him to be banished from participating in public discourse here in America...and that his license to broadcast be revoked.
"Oh," you say, "Pat Robertson didn't actually kill anyone. The Unabomber did!" True. But, as I observe the "We're too busy to comment" responses from leaders at the Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council and the Christian Coalition, I have to imagine that a great many of Pat Robertson's followers will now feel that it's okay to advocate the assassination of someone as long as you follow that up by saying "I'm sorry. Oh, and by the way, I never really said that." (How's that for a non-apology apology???) They will feel that it's Christian to talk about assassinating people. After all, none of the leadership groups Robertson is aligned with is saying it isn't.
Is this what we're supposed to call "moral leadership"?...which is - after all - Robertson's claim to why he should be at the public discourse table with the rest of us.
Still not happy with my comparing Robertson to the Unabomber?
Okay, how about this. Pat Robertson has historically been treated as a moral leader by the mainstream media, for example interviewed by Fox News as recently as August 15th. But you can be arrested for threatening to kill the President of the United States.
Will Pat Robertson ever be treated as a moral leader again? I guess it depends on whether or not the media here in America thinks it's okay to talk about killing the leader of a country just so long as the country you're talking about isn't the United States.
Still think I'm being too extreme? That's fine. I am being...a bit...in order to make a point. And my point is that - while I know Pat Robertson isn't going to be arrested for what he said (because his statements have not...at least not yet like bin Laden's have...led to someone actually carrying out the terrible act that he suggested should be carried out) - what I want is for him to be declared persona non grata.
I want him marginalized from society the way he deserves to be.
I want him off the air.
I want him ejected from American life the way Jimmy "the Greek" Snyder was in 1988, after he said the black athlete was "bred to be the better athlete..."
And one last - and very important thing.
I want to invite all of my moral authority advocating friends to adopt some new champions. You know, you really don't have to continue to associate yourselves with Pat Robertson. You have other options. In fact, here are some great places to start...
Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace
Every Church A Peace Church
Clergy and Laity Network
Unitarian Universalist Association
Muhammad Ali and the new Ali Center (Yes, I know he's not a Christian. But so what. He's Muhammad Ali!)
Chuck Currie's blog
We've potentially reached a true "teachable moment" my friends. If we take a step back and reflect on what Pat Robertson's fringe behavior really says about our society at this point in time...about all the hate and un-Christian-like behavior that permiates our public discourse...we can ask ourselves the question What is true moral leadership?...and then discover newly what that most noble and spiritual of qualities really is...and who is doing the best job of advancing those principles out in the world.