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The World Reacts to Robertson

In the global chatter about U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson‘s remarks calling for the assasination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (for which he later apologized), there is much reflection on religious extremism – and the extent to which it is tolerated in various countries.

Calvin Ng, a Malaysian Christian, condemns “Mad Mullah Robertson” but then concludes: “My challenge to Muslim bloggers to similarly speak out that their own Mad Mullahs are wrong still stands.”

As Haitham blogged in this roundup post yesterday, a number of Middle Eastern bloggers have been commenting. A Kuwaiti Online is unimpressed by the U.S. government's mild reaction to Robertson.

Indian blogger Harini Calamur writes at Point of View: “When Osama asks for Bush and Blair’s head – he is a nasty terrorist. …It would be interesting to see the Bush Administration bring charges of ‘encouraging terrorism’ on Robertson.” (Via Sabbah's Blog.)

U.S. based Indian-born blogger Arnab digs up some of Robertson's past anti-Hindu rants, among other things.

Jewels in the Jungle, who blogs on Africa from Germany, has a long roundup and asks: “What about all of those new anti-terrorism laws Congress passed last year? Isn’t this kind of thing against the law in America?” Jewels also points to discussion of Robertson's ties to Liberian dictator Charles Taylor.

The Devil's Excrement, who is no fan of Chavez, thinks the whole Robertson thing has been blown way out of proportion and didn't deserve the attention it got in the blogosphere. He thinks the Venezuelan government did the right thing by shrugging off Robertson's remarks as a loony rant.

David Sasaki followed regional Latin American reactions in his daily roundup posts here, here, and here.

What do you think? Do you think the Robertson story got way too much attention or does it have broader significance when it comes to how the U.S. is perceived around the world? Please leave a comment and let us know your thoughts.

22 comments

  • Stewart

    Well at least one good thing will come of this, I doubt Mr Robertson can come to the UK anymore, after all if he does I can demand his arrest at the airport. Gloryfication of terrorism after all is now illegal in the UK…

  • Lisa Williams

    If everybody thinks it’s an overreaction, then why did the US State Department call a press conference and issue a formal statement disavowing Roberts’ actions? Does the State Department “hate America” too?

    People who use the tired, worn out “the left hates America” meme are people who want to tear apart America. That’s not patriotic.

  • In my eyes what Robertson said reconfirms the stereotypes the rest of the world has about America. It is “really” bad because it gives America a bad name. As an expat I do not appreciate that. I have enough trying to deal with America’s bad image right now for one senile televangelist to open his mouth and add to the pile in one minute of air time.

  • The plot thickens : http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4188578.stm

  • marek

    Many of these comments seem to me to be missing the point. The issue out here in The Rest of the World is less about Robertson’s significance or otherwise (though many of us here in TROW tend to view former presidential candidates with their own television channels as a tad more influential than average); it is much more about the reaction of the US government. State Department press conference or no, we expect more than “shucks, he’s just some old guy”, and we expect that, in part, because that is the standard the US government has pressed for strongly in other, parallel, contexts.

  • Brad Lena

    Boy, I must admit, I didn’t see that one coming. Are you telling me that he’s saying that governments engage in assassination? Just wait, next he’ll suggest that political, religious or criminal organizations do it to. Is that Robertson a crackpot or what? … heh

  • Ben

    If, as Travis (and most everyone else) recognises, the US is a powerful country, its members are not best placed to judge the moral equivalence of statements and actions. Most applications of the term ‘moral equivalence’ are a re-statement of the ordering of the world from a US perspective with a light dusting of philosophical phraseology.

    As for J’s comment about public retraction and regret, it’s hard to see much of that. Perhaps Pat meant ‘take him out for a beer and a chat’? heh

  • Travis

    That’s brilliant, Ben. Now I understand why it is so difficult for me to understand morals or ethics. Perhaps we can come up with a morality ranking system wherein one’s nationality determines one’s ability to discern morality. Americans: wow–too powerful. Can hardly begin to see morality. Someone from, say, Uraguay–not very powerful at all…must have a ferocious ability to determine morality. Maybe we could even come up with some sort of ranking system wherein an exponent can be multiplied to one’s comments and the true value of the statement can be better weighed. Not sure how well that would work, on second thought. How about this, completely abesnt of any “dusting of philosophical phraseology”:

    Mass murder: bad. Saying ugly words: not as bad.
    Tearing families apart by slaughtering thousands: bad. Poopy talk and hurting someone’s feelings: not as bad.

    I realize I’m not in any position to judge moral equivilence with the above, as an American, but I’m trying.

  • micki

    Most of us make mistakes. Most of us have stomachs. Most of us regret.
    IMHO, Robertson exposed himself, his johari window so to speak, by allowing us to peek into and see what we all know….about ourselves.

    You are telling me SaintChavas is todays modern equiv. to robin hood,huh?

    America? We are the power. We will stay that way. That makes us smug AND wrong, but we dont care. We`re rich AND we will ‘get some’ AND we will get even. You folk in Iraq, Afghanistan,Iran,China..et al dont know how lucky you are IF the majority of Americans had their way to deal `wit cha all.You can thank your lucky stars we have a democratic government,` Cuz if we dint, you wouldnt live to write THIS blog AND you wouldnt have a country. Because we anticipated…
    Wrong? Yes, but we dont care.
    Sad but True…
    We(the people) are on the wrong road. Even the people in the US have no means of retribution. Because we anticipated…

  • micki

    that the govt would take care of us, the police would protect us, the politicians would tell us the truth, that we could trust strangers,that if we told the truth and worked hard we`d all be equal and share the American dream..thats how we were brought up. We didnt plan on forigners coming to our country and killing innocent people, we didnt plan on people lying to us or stealing from us. Or having soft Presidents. We pay our taxes and expect someone to have our back. It was set up this way.
    They(govt) anticipated all this. do you think if we , the american people were happy we`d have our own like Timothy McVeigh bblowing up federal bldgs?
    We(all of us) are on the wrong road.
    And please remember one thing. Never, I beg of you, ever use spell check again; you`re prettier that way. ; )

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