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Robertson and Ahmadinejad

Saturday, January 7, 2006

CHRISTIAN television evangelist Pat Robertson and the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have a well-established affinity for the outrageous. This time their mutual embrace of indecency places them in a category all to themselves. As Ariel Sharon lies hospitalized and critically incapacitated by a massive stroke, Mr. Robertson, one of America's best-known religious extremists, and his Iranian counterpart -- no slouch when it comes to religious demagoguery -- suggested that Israel's prime minister had it coming. Speaking on his TV show, "The 700 Club," on the Christian Broadcasting Network, Mr. Robertson said the Bible "makes it very clear that God has enmity against those who 'divide my land.' " Mr. Sharon, Mr. Robertson asserted, "was dividing God's land, and I would say woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course." As Mr. Robertson was offering up his thoughts about a man fighting for his life, Iran's president was expressing unrestrained hope that Mr. Sharon would simply die.

Pat Robertson and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are probably beyond the point where they can be reached by embarrassment or shame. But they are not beyond the kind of strong condemnation that they have richly earned. We need not recite the records of contemptible remarks made by both men in the past. There is little reason to believe that either will cease his disgraceful behavior. Mr. Ahmadinejad, the president of a country with a lamentable human rights record and a nuclear program, is dangerous, where Mr. Robertson is only pathetic. But they share a self-righteousness that blinds them to the distance that they have placed between themselves and the majority of people who find their remarks repulsive. It's sufficient to know, we suppose, that at a time when messages of hope are flowing from around the world to the bedside of Ariel Sharon, Pat Robertson and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad still have each other.

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