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by Gary Sudborough
Sunday, Oct. 09, 2005 at 2:13 PM
A historical perspective on Pat Robertson's statement about the need to assassinate Hugo Chavez, the democratically elected leader of Venezuela.
Pat Robertson's statement about the need to assassinate the democratically elected leader of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, was not at all shocking to me. This is the way the ruling classes of nations have always looked on reformers who want to redistribute wealth to the poor, and thus, adversely affect ruling class designs to control even more of the Earth's wealth. It goes far back in human history. Tiberius Gracchus was a Roman leader who desired to make life better for the common people in Rome by redistribution of public lands, increasing the grain allowance and other populist measures. He and hundreds of his followers were assassinated in a massacre engineered by the wealthy of Rome. Not many years thereafter, his brother Gaius Gracchus took up the cause and his fate was the same as that of Tiberius. In a very well-researched book Michael Parenti argues that Julius Caesar was also a populist, accomplishing a great deal for Rome's poor people, and this explains the hatred for him by rich and influential Romans and his eventual assassination. This constant suppression by ruling classes of the aspirations of the poor for a better life continues through the Middle Ages with the massacres associated with the many peasant revolts such as Wat Tyler's rebellion in England and those of Pugachev and Stenka Razin in Russia. The rich people who fled Paris to Versailles after the Paris Commune was established in 1871 returned to witness the executions and massacre of the Commune members after the Paris Commune was destroyed by counterrevolutionary troops with the assistance of the Prussians. If history is any guide, the rich and powerful have always perceived the leaders of the poor and the masses of the poor themselves as a grave threat and desired the assassination of the leaders.
The complicity of conservative religious leaders like Pat Robertson with ruling classes and their ideology and motivations is also not new in world history. The hierarchy of the Catholic Church has always been associated with ruling class domination. The many revolutions in France and the 1910 revolution in Mexico were against the power of the Catholic Church as well as the ruling classes of those countries. The Catholic Church in Mexico was a large landowner and land seized from the Catholic Church was given to the peasants in the land reform program of Mexican revolutionaries like Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.
Giuseppe Garibaldi faced great opposition from the Catholic Church in his efforts to establish a Republic in Rome and to unify Italy and drive foreign forces like the Austrians out of Italy. Pope Pius IX asked Napoleon III of France to send French troops to restore him to power and destroy the Roman Republic in 1849. French forces under General Oudinot attacked Rome and despite fierce resistance from Garibaldi's redshirts and other revolutionaries were able to overthrow the republic and restore the Pope to power. Garibaldi retreated across Italy, losing his wife to illness and many of his men. He was pursued by French troops, Austrian troops, Spanish troops and Neapolitan forces from the Kingdom of Naples, but after many narrow escapes was able to flee to Sardinia and then the United States. He and his redshirts returned ten years later to help King Victor Emmanuel of Sardinia unify Italy and drive the Austrians from the country. The complicity of Catholic Church hierarchy and even the monks, who refused Garibaldi's troops food and shelter and informed on his movements, made Garibaldi very anti-Catholic in his feelings.
During the Spanish Civil War, the Catholic Church was strongly supportive of Franco and his fascists. Franco was also supported financially and militarily by Hitler and Mussolini. After World War 2, the Catholic Church operated a ratline through the Vatican that enabled many Nazi war criminals to escape to South America. Of course, recently, there have been many priests in Latin America who have been influenced by liberation theology and have taken the interests of the poor to heart. Even an occasional bishop like Oscar Romero in El Salvador have been sympathetic to the poor. Oscar Romero paid with his life as he was assassinated by fascists. However, the Cardinals and the Pope have not changed and are still supportive of ruling class domination.
Pat Robertson is not Catholic, but a new phenomenon in the United States is that certain Protestant groups have become even more fascistic in their outlook than the Catholic Church. It is easy to recognize why Karl Marx considered religion to be the opiate of the people. Religion is often used to induce people to forget their present miseries and oppression and concentrate instead on a future life. It is also part of the many schemes of divide and conquer utilized by the ruling classes. Jay Gould, the notorious railroad baron of the 19th century, stated: " I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half." With religion and corporate propaganda brought into consideration, one could add to Jay Gould's quotation by saying that it is possible to deceive one-half of the working class into killing the other half.
The corporate media in the United States treated Pat Robertson's statement about the need to assassinate Hugo Chavez with shock and tried to insinuate that such sentiments are not at all shared by the US government, despite the US support for the attempted coup in Venezuela, and such thoughts do not occur at all in the brains of those who own the productive capacity of the United States and dominate American society. World history disproves all of these denials. It is very understandable that wealthy people would dislike people who threaten their wealth and power and would attempt to eliminate them.
Pat Robertson is not guilty of expressing a shocking sentiment completely foreign to the thought processes of the US government and ruling class. After all, leaders like Patrice Lumumba and Salvador Allende were killed with the complicity of the CIA. The CIA helped engineer the coup in Indonesia in 1965 which resulted in the deaths of over one million people, most of them members of the Indonesian Communist Party. Pat Robertson is guilty of a great indiscretion, however, because such matters are not to be discussed openly and the American people made aware of them. The correct way to describe the assassination of a foreign leader or the invasion of another country is to say that freedom and democracy are being brought to suffering, oppressed people or that evil terrorists are being defeated. Pat Robertson deviated from the standard explanation and mentioned the word oil, which has to displease those in power. Maybe Pat Robertson is getting old and senile, or perhaps, he needs a refresher course in correct propaganda techniques. Indeed, it is a very rare occurrence when truthful sentiments pass the lips of those with power, especially when these sentiments are immoral and barbaric and run counter to the myth that the United States is the foremost promoter of human rights in the world today.
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