Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Harboring Terrorists

Terrorism is not simply violent acts against noncombatants. Since terrorism typically lacks the brute force of a state-sponsored military, it primarily gains power through the threat of violence. It is used unpredictably to create fear and instability that will wear down the will to resist.

Our own Department of Defense defines terrorism as: "The calculated use of violence or the threat of violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological." [Emphasis mine.]

For terrorism's threat to be credible, it must occasionally unleash actual violence, but the most important weapons of the terrorist are the camera, videotape, the web, and access to a free press.

Given this context, is Pat Robertson — like his homies, Eric Rudolph and Timothy McVeigh — a terrorist?

Robertson has long been a sanctimonious goon — the devil spawn of Alfred E. Newman and George W. Bush, or vice versa — who projects a nice crinkly countenance when he prays for bad things to happen to his enemies, in Jesus' name. He has always had a tenuous grasp on international affairs post 1 A.D. Now, he claims, the democratically elected head of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, is turning Venezuela into "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent."

Communist infiltration? Does that mean Castro couldn't make it the 90 miles to Florida, so he thought he'd try Caracas as the doorway to overthrowing the US? And while they're at it, the virtually 100% Roman Catholic nation will become the next terrorist training camp? We know that nexus of communism and Islamic extremism worked really well in Afghanistan...

Clearly, Pat's delusional. Donations to his empire must be flagging. But should we let it go at that? Is he simply, Ann Coulter-like, exercising his right to free speech and self-promotion when he advocates the assassination of Chavez, or, as the putative leader of pentecostal Christians, does he cross a line even Iran-Contra Reagan himself declared illegal? Chavez has to be loving it. Now he can really stand up to US imperialism and increase his majority support in the country.

Chavez may not be Tony Blair, but neither is he Saddam, so even our go-after-the-bad-guys-sitting-on-oil leaders are going to disavow Robertson's loose lips and hope this blows over. But in this age of the Patriot Act, when an innocent Brazilian can get eight bullets for living in the wrong building, surely Rev. Robertson merits at least a serious visit from the authorities. Otherwise, we legitimately can be accused of harboring terrorists who advocate the overthrow of democratic nations.

Robertson has been criticized for his remarks by some of the clergy, but not other allies in the Christian right:

The Rev. Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals said he and "most evangelical leaders" would disassociate themselves from such "unfortunate and particularly irresponsible" comments.

"It complicates circumstances for foreign missionaries and Christian aid workers overseas who are already perceived, wrongly, especially by leftists and other leaders, as collaborators with U.S. intelligence agencies," Mr. Cizik added.

Who gives greater aid to the enemy and puts Americans at risk? Those — like Bill Moyers, Cindy Sheehan and Al Franken — who question whether we are living up to our principles? Or those like Robertson, who confirm the darkest, erroneous suspicions about the American character?


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