AR-15 assault rifle, types of which were reportedly found in the Las Vegas shooter's hotel room. Photo by Chris Browning/Gun News Daily/Creative Commons

Don't politicize Las Vegas?

(RNS) — As night follows day and summer gives way to fall, so it was inevitable that Pat Robertson would have something to say about the massacre in Las Vegas. Speaking Monday (Oct. 2) on "The 700 Club," where 16 years ago he and Jerry Falwell blamed "the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians" for 9/11, he declared:

Violence in the streets, ladies and gentlemen. Why is it happening? The fact that we have disrespect for authority; there is profound disrespect for our president, all across this nation they say terrible things about him. It’s in the news, it’s in other places. There is disrespect now for our national anthem, disrespect for our veterans, disrespect for the institutions of our government, disrespect for the court system. All the way up and down the line, disrespect.

The cause of this disrespect, said Robertson, is that "we have taken from the American people the vision of God, the whole idea of reward and punishment, an ultimate judge of all our actions, we’ve taken that away." Paraphrasing Proverbs 29:18, he concluded, "When there is no vision of God, the people run amok.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt made better use of that proverb — and quoted it accurately — in blaming "the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods" for the Great Depression in his first inaugural address:

Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored conditions. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers.

They have no vision, and "when there is no vision the people perish."

The money changers have fled their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths.

There's prophetic presidential language for you.

But either way, when a bad thing happens, it's normal and customary to focus on who and what may have caused it — and not, as Donald Trump and his confederates have done, to act as if this is causeless "pure evil," as if the only thing to do is to comfort the afflicted and bring us together, as if we are forbidden to — God forbid! — "politicize" it by talking about doing something to prevent it happening again.

It's as if, after Pearl Harbor, America First isolationists had said, "Now is not the time to politicize the tragedy and declare war on the perpetrators. We must come together as a people and comfort the families of those who perished in the attack."

But when the evident causes conflict with the interests of their big donors, be it the National Rifle Association or the Koch brothers, the GOP nowadays goes all kumbaya. Take Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who last month scolded those who presumed to talk about how global warming has contributed to the strength of hurricanes this season for being "very, very insensitive to this people in Florida."

Actually, the parallelism is pretty precise. While we cannot blame particular hurricanes on climate change, we can say that the warming of ocean temperatures has increased their intensity. While we cannot blame particular shooting incidents on the decline of gun control, we can say that their intensity has been increased by the availability of assault weapons.

Curiously, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins, one of the president's top evangelical advisers, might have been thinking about climate change on Monday when he wrote in his Washington Update that Las Vegas was "tragic for America, a country that has felt the intensity and frequency of these attacks multiply faster than anyone could have imagined."

But Perkins, whose home in Baton Rouge, La., was destroyed by massive flooding last year, pivoted quickly away from any hint that public policy might be in order: "It's time to recognize that the cure for violence isn't in Washington. It's in the hope and the healing offered through faith in God."

Because why would federal gun control legislation have anything to do with the intensity and frequency of gun violence in America?

Photo credit


  1. Politicize Christianity, but don’t politicize the massacre of 59 Americans, one year after the massacre of 50 Americans.

    Politicize two people who want to get married, but don’t politicize an amendment to the constitution which was intended to cover single shot muskets, and which has yet again turned in to the murder of innocents.

    Politicize prayer to prey on the public, but pay no attention to the man who said not to pray in public.

  2. FDR quoting God with his mistress at his side and his Rexford Tugwell setting us up to pay Puerto Rico’s bill. Evil has never been hampered for long,even without guns. Where there is the will, there is a way. Have you checked on North Korea, they have the will and the way.

  3. It is you that politicize the marriage to circumvent the Law. This will be proven to have been a fatal approach for the planet. The planet can exist with the gay people but the planet can not exist without Gods’ people. Every time you convince a child of God otherwise you hasten the end of the planet. Your love for Obama because he circumvented the Law is misguided, his action sealed the fate of the Earth. You may be a witness of the end of this country depending on your age.

  4. Silly superstitious nonsense. If I see the end of this country, it will because of war mongering republicans, Deficit spending idiots of either party, dominionist Christians, and superstitious nonsense.

  5. Oh did I leave out the ecological disasters caused by too many people, global warming, unrestricted access to guns, selling arms to every Tom Dick and Abdul who wants them?
    And did god tell you that my “love for Obama” was the tipping point for him, or did you put on your superstitious big boy pants and declare this all by yourself?

  6. Ben, there will be a great deal more to it than that. Apart from religion, no empire has ever endured forever, not even close. Cultural entropy has played a demise in the role of every world empire to date. America will not be the exception, whatever the specifics of the case.

  7. Of course, Edward. It was a short comment. And a response to someone whose understanding of the world seems to be limited to that which can be found between the covers of one old book.

  8. So you are showing your disdain for the man who was instrumental in saving the world from fascist domination and finding excuses to turn a blind eye to those suffering from a natural disaster in a US territory. I can’t come close to pretending I respect your views here.

    With North Korea, our president appears willing to fight to the last South Korean and Japanese in his reaction to being trolled in public.

  9. I find great value in what is to be found there, I believe the precepts within that book, especially as regards the utter fecklessness of humanity, to be quite telling. But framing that argument to an unbelieving world requires a certain flexibility that makes the book more comprehensible to the unconvinced without doing damage to its message and requirements.

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