Like many Americans, Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey was appalled at Pat Robertson's extreme remarks on "This Week" with George Stephanopolous last Sunday. Robertson accused U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg of being a communist, asserted that only Jews and Christians were fit for public service, and made some very uncouth comments about Islam. What shocked Lautenberg the most were Robertson's declarations about the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"It was shocking to hear your cavalier dismissal of the atrocious 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon by describing them as 'a few bearded terrorists who fly planes into buildings,'" wrote Lautenberg in a letter to Robertson.
"However, it is my feeling that no crazed terrorists hiding out in mountain caves on the border of Afghanistan can threaten America," wrote Robertson in his letter to Lautenberg. "It is my firm conviction that Supreme Court decisions which have led to the wanton slaughter of 40 million unborn babies; the removal of cherished religious truth from the classroom and the public square; the usurpation of the constitutional powers of our elected representatives, such as yourself; the sanctioning of pornography and the potential destruction of marriage, are all of themselves graver dangers in the decades to come than the terrorists which our great nation has defeated in Afghanistan and Iraq."
In response to criticism about his views on the September 11 attacks, Robertson curiously claims that he "was probably the first newscaster on TV to proclaim that this was an act of terrorism and not an accident."
What Robertson actually said after the September 11 attacks was far more controversial than that. During a September 13, 2001, appearance with Jerry Falwell, Robertson explained his views of the recent attacks saying, "What we saw on Tuesday, as terrible as it is, could be miniscule if, in fact, God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve."
Falwell famously replied, "The ACLU has got to take a lot of blame for this. And I know I'll hear from them for this, but throwing God...successfully with the help of the federal court system...throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools, the abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked and when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad.... I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen."
Instead of challenging this radical statement, Robertson added, "I totally concur, and the problem is we've adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government, and so we're responsible as a free society for what the top people do, and the top people, of course, is the court system."
In light of his recent rant, Robertson's views have only hardened in the intervening years. It is high time that politicians and journalists treat him as the extremist that he is. His continued influence is deeply disturbing.