Saletan utterly misses the obvious point on Robertson’s inexcusable lies about atheism

On Monday Pat Robertson (R-Fraud) blamed the Sikh shooting on atheists, kicking off a round of well deserved criticism. But William Saletan rides to the rescue!

Slate — Pat Robertson is using Sunday’s mass shooting at a Wisconsin Sikh temple to pick a religious fight. That’s the story going around the lefty blogosphere, based on a 40-second clip of Robertson apparently blaming the massacre on atheists. But the full context of the clip paints a more encouraging picture. It’s a picture of Christian fundamentalists learning, in their clumsy way, to identify with other faiths.

What’s bizarre is the article goes on to note Robertson is one of the worst Televangelist offenders, stirring up animosity and hatred among his inexplicably loyal listeners at one faith or group or another time and time again. But hey, shifting from Sikhs to atheists as scapegoats is a “good thing,” I guess, because it brings people of faith together … against a  common enemy.

Let me skip the needless analogy and go all Godwin on Saletan’s sorry ass here: you know who else brought a fractured nation back together using similar methods? Hitler! Yes, and he did it the same old-fashioned way, by blaming horrific acts on people who were in no position to defend themselves against those vicious accusations even though they had nothing to do with any of it. And you know what, William? It worked! Why in just a few years many Germans forgot all about their anger toward the aristocracy and military industrial complex that dragged them into WW1 and instead blamed their defeat and economic collapse on those damn dirty Jews, intellectuals, and of course the commies.

It’s doubtful anyone in their right mind would look back on that as encouraging.

Robertson did this for about the ugliest reasons imaginable. He wanted to shift the blame away from and put some distance between himself and  the violent right-wing terrorist rhetoric he himself has gone along with all too often, and in the heat of the tragedy he couldn’t zero in on the Sikhs. Muslims had nothing to do with it and his followers might think he was picking on Sikhs there too, since they apparently can’t distinguish between them. So, like any tyrannical bully he picked the obvious, convenient political weakling at hand, he picked atheists, and he did it for pure, unadulterated profit.


  1. raven says

    Robertson once called the mainline Protestants, the churches of the Antichrist.

    No bigotry towards other xian denominations there at all. Nothing to see, move on.

    Pat Robertson:
    “The 700 Club” (1966) – Memorable quotes

    Pat Robertson: Well, I totally concur, and the problem is we have adopted that agenda … to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don’t have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist.

  2. StevoR says


    Sadly a (worse) part of human nature since the time we evolved from the common ancestro of chimps.

  3. mildlymagnificent says

    It wasn’t party time for homosexuals either if my history book gets it right.

    Atheists, homosexuals, non-favoured theologies, strange furriners (gypsies then), out-of-favour politics – looks like a standard line-up for any decade and any authoritarian crowd of the last century or so.

  4. christophburschka says

    At least Pat tacitly admitted that murdering people is bad. Baby steps. The idea that the murderer might bear some culpability can’t be far off.

  5. Crudely Wrott says

    Shorter Pat Robertson:

    Not me. Not us. We worship correctly.

    Blamelessness is so easy to claim. All that’s needed is old myths and convincing piety. Convincing to the feeble minded.

    I never could understand the concept of worship. What would you bet that ol’ Pat has a few choice things to say to me?

  6. lanir says

    Oh Pat is just repeating the Haiti thing. So we can conclude he thinks that sort of thing works out well for him.

    I’m not sure what the other yahoo’s excuse is. Fed faerie tales about how automatically good the shared imaginary friend of choice is along with anything vaguely related to said imaginary friend? I think most people get fed that nonsense really early on although I do think it’s rare to find someone who’s willing to write off flagrantly erroneous hate speech unless they have major ethical problems of their own.

  7. d cwilson says

    Nothing promotes religious solidarity like all the world’s faiths coming together to blame all their shit on atheists.

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