Thursday, January 05, 2006

Two Sides Of A Similar Coin

If you turned on the news at any point today, you already know that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has had a massive stroke. The reason I say "former" is because:

1.) I'm being realistic (sadly),

and 2.) Doctors have told reporters that Sharon is "unlikely to return" to his position.

While the power struggle begins to quietly play out in Israel's government, certain forces have no intention of sending the would-be Middle Eastern peace architect any get-well cards. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who recently made headlines and irked 99 percent of the free world by claiming the Holocaust was a "myth," stated that he hoped Sharon died. Another typically heartless statement from a radical who seems to be begging for war with every country in the United Nations, right? Absolutely. But an equally heartless, and possibly even more tasteless, statement has emerged from the lips of none other than America's own Pat Robertson.

The Christian broadcaster has stirred the pot in his own right by suggesting today that Sharon's stroke was a punishment from God for "dividing" Israel. Robertson is a favorite target of liberals (who hold him up as an example of the religious right) and of the press (who know his extreme remarks are newsworthy and can sell papers). But he often gets a free pass from conservatives. Some on the right really do agree with him, though I don't know any of them personally. Others tiptoe around him, as well as Jerry Falwell, because they would rather tolerate his views and stay allies with his sizeable base of supporters.

I'm not one to tiptoe.

I prefer to never, ever mix religious and political discussions unless I have to. So I'm not going to get into any differences in interpretation of the Bible or anything of the sort. But for anyone to imply that he has an absolute knowledge of God's current will - which Robertson did today and has done in the past - disgusts me and implies a form of elitism potentially more dangerous than anything Hollywood has ever had to say. He had to know that anything he said would get carried on wires all over the world, much to the disgrace of his country, yet he said it anyway. Now Israel's ambassador to the United States is outraged, rightfully comparing Robertson's remarks to something that Mahmoud A. of Iran probably wishes he had come up with first. I do not question Robertson's faith, and I am not judgmental enough to label him misguided. However, I have very little respect for a man who constantly gives his supporters a bad name just by representing them. I really do wish that mainstream conservatives were quicker to denounce this sort of thing, but until we value our own convictions more than what our friends and allies might think about them, the Pat Robertsons of the world will continue to speak loudly and often.

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