Pat Robertson calls Islam "demonic"

The bigot is at it again. We have to stop dismissing the media mogul's hate speech as white noise

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published February 14, 2013 7:37PM (EST)

Pat Robertson                                        (Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Pat Robertson (Reuters/Brian Snyder)

How is it that Pat Robertson is still on TV saying terrible things? How desperate for content are cable providers that they'll just let this windbag spew any old crazy talk? His statement this week that Islam is "demonic" and that "I hardly think to call it a religion, it's more an economic and political system with a religious veneer" isn't even the most offensive thing he's ever said – it's just the most recent in a lifetime torrent of stupid.

What makes Robertson's blithe dismissal of a quarter of the world's population as "angry people" so infuriating  isn't just that it's so ignorant – after all, when was the last time he said something that made sense? You don't exactly expect cultural sensitivity from the man who blamed a 2010 earthquake on Haiti's "pact with the devil." But in a country where, believe it or not, we have women and homosexuals and nearly 3 million Muslims, you'd think that at a certain point, being a bigot and a moron would not be the sort of thing cable companies and advertisers and talk-show bookers would want to promote. But then again, I'm the person who thought Amy Poehler and Will Arnett had the world's cutest marriage, so I may be hopelessly naive.

On his show last month, the misogynistic elder statesman related the tale of a teenage boy who wished his father would pay more attention to his mother. "It may be your mom isn't as sweet as you think she is," he said. "She may be kind of hard-nosed." And then he expanded on that theme: "A woman came to a preacher I know — it's so funny. She was awful looking. Her hair was all torn up, she was overweight and looked terrible. And she said, 'Oh, Reverend, what can I do? My husband has started to drink.' And the preacher looked at her and he said, 'Madam, if I were married to you, I’d start to drink too.'" He also threw in the word "slattern," which is always fun.

And just earlier this month, he responded to the possible easing of the banishment of gays from the Boy Scouts by saying the move will lead to "predators as Boy Scouts, pedophiles who will come in as Scoutmasters, and if they are, of course parents wouldn't want their sons being involved in the Boy Scouts." Robertson's list of people who are doing it wrong is legendarily impressive. Last year, he warned about adoptees, "You just never know what's been done to a child before you get that child." In December, he condemned West Point's first same-sex wedding by saying that "General Douglas MacArthur, rolling over in his grave. What have they done to our cherished institution?"

Robertson, in addition to being a sack of hate in preacher's robes, is also a media mogul. He gets to say most of the insane things because he's got his own network and his own show. But the question is, why is he still getting away with this crap? Why does this idiot still have such a powerful platform? Just because a man spends decades pulling the same old garbage doesn't make it any less garbage. It's not enough to roll our eyes and say, "That darn Pat." We should be disgusted, on a regular basis. We should be angry at his casual bigotry and his sneering condescension. And just because it's his shtick, it doesn't make it any more tolerable today than it's ever been.

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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