Tuesday, August 23, 2005

700 Club Economics

The poster boy for the Christian Right has once again shown that the name of the movement is a double misnomer. Pat Robertson has called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and has justified this claim by saying "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war."

Robertson is abdicating his duty as a spiritual leader. His justification for killing Chavez is economic. On "The 700 Club," he said "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator." This kind of utilitarian justification for an assassination is deplorable and nauseating. Robertson is not an economics expert. He has a degree in history, a law degree, and a Master of Divinity. In other words, his so-called area of expertise is in morality, spirituality, and the law, most likely as seen through the lens of history. But at the same time, he has forgotten the history of the religion that he preaches, which is founded on the ideas of peace and love, and adamantly opposed to murder.

Robertson is an interesting and enigmatic person, at least as shown through his contrasting views on the subjects of life and the law. He is opposed to abortion and supports a moratorium on the death penalty, and yet he calls for the assassination of Chavez. He has a law degree, yet calls for an act that would violate the law as articulated in executive orders banning political assassinations issued by two presidents, Ford and Reagan, both of whom, like Robertson, are conservative Republicans.

A man who claims to preach a religion that at its core espouses the virtues of peace should not be advocating the murder of anyone. For this person to advocate the political assassination of the leader of another country is even worse. For him to advocate this based on economic interests, both in the potential cost of a nonexistent war and in the threat of reduced oil supplies, is grotesque. Robertson needs to apologize and stick to spiritual matters. He can start by going back to the source and reading the parts of the bible that speak of peace and love.

The day may come when we have a confrontation with Venezuela and Chavez. That day, however, is neither today nor will it be tomorrow. If that day does come, we have numerous means at our disposal, most diplomatic, some military. But assassination is never the way to go. In America we value the rule of law, and while we may not like Chavez or be the best of friends with Venezuela at the moment, we cannot simply remove him from office in a "Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!" style.