Last week, while discussing the Fort Hood massacre on his program The 700 Club, notorious right-wing evangelist Pat Robertson told his audience that Islam is “not a religion, it’s a political system. It’s a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination.” Yesterday, a reporter asked Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell (R) — who took thousands of dollars from Robertson for his campaign and frequently appeared on The 700 Club — if he thought the evangelist’s comments were “appropriate.” While stressing that he wants “people of all faiths” to part of his administration, McDonnell refused to condemn Robertson specifically, citing the First Amendment:
MCDONNELL: You know, I’ve got probably 15,000 donors to the campaign, and I can’t stand to defend or support every comment that every donor might make …. I think people are entitled under the First Amendment to express whatever opinions they may have.
“[McDonnell’s] sending the message that he wants it both ways–he wants the support of a Muslim-basher. And he wants to work with Virginia Muslims. I think those two things are incompatible,” said Council on American-Islamic Relations spokesman Ibrahim Hooper.
Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) issued this strong statement condemning Robertson:
When a prominent Virginian chooses to engage in hate-filled rhetoric that divides us and has the potential to fuel real discord in our polity, leaders cannot remain silent. That is why I am calling on Mr. Robertson to apologize to my constituents – Muslim and non-Muslim – for the hurt he has caused and the damage he has done. It is a week overdue.