Christ Has Left The Building
September 01, 2005
Peter Hardie is vice president for Campaigns and Labor Affairs at TransAfrica Forum, the leading advocacy organization for Africa and the African Diaspora in U.S. foreign policy. TransAfrica Forum led the world protest against apartheid in South Africa and today works for human and economic justice for African people on the continent of Africa, in Latin America and in the Caribbean. For more information, visit www.transafricaforum.org
Whether or not Americans understand the dynamic scope of Latin American geopolitics, they know what a fool Pat Robertson showed himself to be last week. Robertson’s call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was self-serving and likely had more to do with personal profit than patriotism. African Americans, mostly, should not be surprised.
This is the same Pat Robertson who, on record on the same television show, suggested in 1992 that “one man, one vote” was not a good idea in apartheid South Africa. Robertson was opposed to sanctions against South Africa long after people and governments around the world had settled the immorality of apartheid. Exactly what morality does Pat Robertson preach?
This is the same Pat Robertson who became close friends with Mobutu Sese Seko, the notorious dictator of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, then called Zaire. Two weeks after a massacre of peaceful protesters in the DRC by Mobutu’s soldiers, Robertson was on Zairian television calling Mobutu a “fine Christian.” We ask again, what Christianity guides Robertson?
This is the same Pat Robertson who opposed U.S. sanctions against Charles Taylor’s government in Liberia, known to have been responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Liberians and citizens of neighboring countries. Robertson defended Taylor as a “Christian Baptist president” holding back the specter of Islam in Liberia. Charles Taylor, this Christian Baptist friend of Mr. Robertson, has been charged with war crimes by the United Nations. What Christianity is this, shared by Charles Taylor and Pat Robertson?
The answer is none. Pat Robertson, like many politicians in this modern era, has assumed the cloak of Christianity to disguise racism and greed. His “ministry” in Africa is incorporated and tax-sheltered. His friendships with African individuals were and are tactics of the moment, levers with which to extract African wealth and maintain the undemocratic and immoral oppression of millions necessary to do so.
Mobutu’s Zaire was filled with diamonds and lumber and arable farmland. To get a piece of Zairian wealth, Robertson established a corporation in the early 1990s called the Africa Development Corporation (conveniently incorporated offshore in the Bahamas) which was granted mineral and logging rights under Mobutu. An investigation into the commingling of assets of his religious non-profit, Operation Blessing, and this for-profit corporation sheltered from taxes in the United States was curiously closed and sealed. Evidence suggested that Operation Blessing was playing an ancillary role to ADC.
The story in Liberia is identical. Here the corporation is Freedom Gold, a gold mining venture incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Our upright Baptist Charles Taylor was granted a 10 percent share in the company.
Robertson’s friendships on the African continent should be a Klaxon alarm to African Americans—indeed to all Americans—about the credentials of this so-called evangelical Christian. Were these the only two African leaders with whom he could find common ground—two pariahs long discredited as thieves and murderers of innocent Africans? If Pat Robertson represents Christian values, Christ has left the building. What else is he spewing behind the crucifix? Who stands with him? What Christians will stand against this masquerade?
As should be obvious from his latest call for the assassination of Chavez, Robertson is an extremist and a shill. Wearing the trappings of a man of the cloth, Robertson has spouted evangelism while filling his pockets with hundreds of millions of dollars and advancing a racist and supremacist international agenda. What is most troubling is that in many cases Robertson’s views and the policies of our government differed only in time, never in content. The United States was long a supporter of apartheid, long a supporter of “our boy Mobutu’s” theft and brutality, and late to move against the Taylor-led slaughter in West Africa. Forget the troubling nature of Robertson’s comments; the connection between Robertson and U.S. foreign policy stands as far more troubling and a bit more than coincidence.
There is an old saying: The friends of my enemy are my enemies, and the enemies of my enemies are my friends. Robertson’s comments suggests that African Americans and all Americans interested in peace and justice in Africa and the African Diaspora should keep our eyes on Mr. Robertson’s friends in Africa and in this hemisphere.