By Larry Gross
There he goes again. No sooner had Ariel Sharon been rushed to the hospital with a “significant stroke” than the Rev. Pat Robertson informed the viewers of his cable TV 700 Club that this was God’s punishment for Sharon’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from Gaza. “He was dividing God’s land, and I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the [European Union], the United Nations or the United States of America.’... God says, ‘This land belongs to me, and you’d better leave it alone,’ ” he said. Read the story.
The reaction was as swift as it was predictable. Cable news outlets broadcast Robertson’s medico-theological analysis and Jon Stewart, Jay Leno, et al, had the lead item for their late night monologues. Once more, Robertson had provided the country with the spectacle of theodicy ad absurdum: the loony religious right explanation of God’s will being done on Earth.
Recent highlights of the genre include Pat and Jerry Falwell opining that Sept. 11, 2001, was God’s response to rampant abortion, feminism and homosexuality, and the Rev. Pat’s warning to the citizens of Dover, Pa., after they rejected the effort to substitute “intelligent design” for the teaching of evolution in their high school: “I’d like to say to the good citizens of Dover: If there is a disaster in your area, don’t turn to God, you just rejected Him from your city. And don’t wonder why He hasn’t helped you when problems begin, if they begin. I’m not saying they will, but if they do, just remember, you just voted God out of your city. And if that’s the case, don’t ask for His help because he might not be there.” Read more on this.
Robertson previously entered the field of foreign policy when he urged the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez: “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it,” said Robertson. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war…. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don’t need another $200-billion war to get rid of one 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.” More.
The question that demands our attention is why does he keep doing it, given the certainty of the response: general public reactions ranging from righteous indignation to bemusement to outright ridicule. Does Pat truly desire to play God’s fool for our amusement? The answer, I think, is fairly simple. We’re irrelevant to his true audience: the faithful members of the 700 Club who tune in to his show, put up with and respond appropriately to his incessant pleas for contributions, and share his disdain for the rest of us. The members of his true audience—what is called in today’s political parlance his base—are used to being dissed by the “mainstream media” and, in fact, this only further proves why they’re right to be scornful of those who scorn them. After all, they know who’ll have the last laugh when the Rapture comes, and the MSM, along with the rest of us sinners, are Left Behind.