Robertson:
The Next Hitler?
Colman McCarthy

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Colman McCarthy"
Subject: Re: Robertson the next Hitler?
Date: Sunday, November 26, 2000 8:41 PM

I agree with you as to how scary Robertson's opinions are, and I especially agree with your comparison with Hitler.

I think Hitler had more tact than Robertson, though, in that he was willing to concede to many good-sounding ideas in order to increase the likelihood that his regime would gain power. Minister Louis Farrakhan is similar to Hitler in that he mixes the very good with the very frightening and uses the former to justify the latter.

Robertson, on the other hand, is a strict all-or-nothing fundamentalist and is not likely to concede to anything (though some of the others within the Radical Religious Right are making just these kinds of concessions in order to gain control of a few key issues).

For a brief perspective on this difference, see my piece, "The Gospel Spin Doctors," which was our sidebar to "Homophobic Group Draws Fire," Conrad Goeringer's article about how the Rev. Fred Phelps (the Topeka, Kansas, "God Hates Fags" preacher) has become a major embarrassment to most Christians. In my sidebar, I contrast the all-or-nothing fundamentalism of Phelps and Father David Trosch (who advocates killing abortion providers) with the mainstream Christian activist who is willing to compromise (read: lie about what their actual position is) in order to gain popular support for the ultimate goal.

However, I don't see Robertson's regime succeeding. I could be wrong, but here's what gives me hope:

1. America is too pluralistic. Jefferson said that the variety of religions performed a "censor morum" over one another and he was right. For every Pat Robertson there is not only a John Shelby Spong but also a Minister Louis Farrakhan and even a Richard Dawkins.

2. America's political structure resists what Robertson seeks to do. Hitler needed only to take over one independent nation, and thereby conquer others one-by-one. Robertson is dealing with 50 interdependent states who set up a Federal government consisting of checks and balances. Hitler would never have made it to Square One in America simply because our political structure, in several different ways, resists such attempts to tyrannize our people.

3. Slowly we progress away from the "childhood things" of fundamentalistic superstition. Polls show that those who are most likely to believe in such fantastic tales as the literal return of Christ and the literal Genesis account are the poor, the elderly, and the uneducated. The under-30 crowd is least likely to believe these yarns. These three groups have limited influence upon the rest of us, and the elderly, by far the largest camp among them, have a very limited life span with which to make changes and influence others.

4. Only a fraction of Robertson's supporters agree with him on the scary details. I voted an almost straight Libertarian ticket this time around. But, I could not imagine living in a strictly Libertarian setup. However, on some of the major issues, I'd like to see us pull slightly toward the Libertarian position. Besides, none of the others came even close on what I saw as the crucial issue in 2000: state-church separation. So, by voting for Browne and the others (and by discussing my vote in the public forum), I sent even Nader a message: at least take a stand on the Establishment Clause -- even if you disagree with it (like Gore and Bush), at least tell us where you stand. I certainly sent Gore a message: Bush's lead, as I write this, is smaller than my e-mail list; shortly before the election, I denounced, on this list, Gore's opposition to the Establishment clause and announced, on this list, that I was not voting Democratic this year. However, if you came to me with a bunch of horror stories about Browne and the Libertarians, you would have little impact with me because though I supported Browne by voting for him and throwing a couple of bucks into his campaign, I still know very little about him (much less than I know about Robertson, Gore, Buchanan, and Bush). I suspect that many if not most of Robertson's supporters know very little about him besides two or three pieces of rhetoric or the fact that their church pastor supports him.

So, like a chained dog that barks and makes you jump out of your skin as you walk by at night, Robertson is more bark than bite -- his massive following and influence notwithstanding.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

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