Christian evangelist Pat Robertson thinks the apparent assassination of an American journalist by Saudi Arabia isn’t worth jeopardizing “$100 billion worth of arms sales” with the terrorist-friendly nation.
On The 700 Club this week, Robertson called attention to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. Khashoggi was reportedly killed, beheaded, and dismembered by Saudi agents, but Robertson is worried about the possibility of a deteriorating relationship with Saudi Arabia… because gun deals.
Pat Robertson responds to reports that the Saudis murdered a journalist by telling everyone to calm down and focus on the important things, like the lucrative arms deal we have with them. pic.twitter.com/06b7s3R6Xe
— Right Wing Watch (@RightWingWatch) October 15, 2018
“For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis — look, these people are key allies,” Robertson said. While he called the faith of the Wahabists — the hardline Islamist sect to which the Saudi Royal Family belongs — “obnoxious,” he urged viewers to remember that “we’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of…it’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly.”
Robertson praised the approach of President Donald Trump, who has publicly cast doubt on the allegations against the Saudis, comparing them to those of sexual assault against Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh earlier this month. On Wednesday, after the New York Times reported that it had obtained audio of Khashoggi being tortured, murdered, and dismembered inside the consulate, Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported that Trump said that he had requested the recording, “if it exists,” later adding “I’m not sure that it exists.”
A day later, Robertson doubled down, reappearing on the network to dismiss calls for any form of reprisals against the Saudis as “ill-advised,” in part because of Saudi Arabia’s hardline stance against Iran, whom Robertson identified as a bigger threat.
“You’ve got one journalist — who knows? Was it an interrogation? Was he assassinated? Were there rogue elements? Who did it?… You’ve got $100 billion worth of arms sales… we cannot alienate our biggest player in the Middle East.”
This is the ultimate in hypocritical justification of non-action in the face of inexcusable behavior. Not only does he downplay the horrific death of a journalist, he’s also transparent in his motives: it’s about money.
Who knew Christian morality came with a price tag? Who knew being “pro-life” meant you accept the murder of an innocent man provided the alleged assassins have a lucrative deal with you?
As more and more facts emerged on this still-developing issue yesterday, Robertson recognized that someone within the Saudi government was likely responsible for the killing of Khashoggi. He even called for that official to be removed from office. However, he maintained that sanctioning Saudi Arabia would be “foolish.”
As we learn more about this tragic situation, Robertson and Trump may walk back even more on their remarks. But if that happens, no one should forget that they responded to an innocent man’s murder with a number. It’s neither compassionate nor good political strategy. And it sends a message to Saudi officials that future killings will also go unpunished.