With the start of the war crimes trial of Liberia’s former dictator Charles Taylor at The Hague his old pal televangilist Pat Robertson of 700 Club fame must be getting a bit nervous. Robertson has doggedly supported various bloody dictators in Africa as “Christian” victims of their Moslem populations. In actuality Taylor and Zaire's Mobutu were business partners with the Reverend Pat.
In the early 90’s Robertson’s 700 club went on a fundraising telethon to raise the money to buy airliners purportedly to use for missionary work in Africa. What the tens of thousands of supporters of “Project Blessing” mission didn’t realize was that Reverend Pat has some of his personal billions invested in mining the natural resources of civil war torn nations in Africa.
The Zaire “government” was fighting against Moslem militias from indigenous tribal areas, and is also rotten with diamonds and gold. Without roads there was no way for the Reverend to get to his treasure concession. The “Project Blessing” planes were used mostly to move arms and mining equipment in and booty out of Zaire. When Pat’s mines played out the need for “missionary” work in Zaire was no longer. Robertson’s horror show then moved to Sierra Leone, a country, in the Mad Max sense of the word, dominated by chaos and murderous child soldiers. Charles Taylor, Liberia’s Dictator, and friend of Pat Robertson, financed several of Sierra Leone’s guerilla armies. Sierra Leone is ground zero for the “Blood Diamond” trade. The Dictator and the Billionaire Reverend found it advantageous to keep Sierra Leone government-free and in a state of tribal anarchy. With no government to license the trade, slaves were worked to death and diamonds were sold for a few pennies on the dollar. This all sounds like one of those bestseller adventure novels, except in the end nobody gets their comeuppance. Taylor lost Liberia to an army of insurgents mostly because few in the Liberian army were willing to fight and die to save the Dictator. He is sitting in a nice jail suite at The Hague, waiting for the intentional court of Justice to try him for his war crimes. I don’t think he will rat out the Reverend Pat for his role in the crimes. Robertson provides support and political cover for Taylor’s family and legal aid for the former dictator.
Why isn’t this not a news story? Well, this is Africa we’re talking about. African stories are tales of intractable horror for the most part, and Westerners like stories with an arc. Hopelessness doesn’t sell well. Folks like to think they can change things.
Holding Pat Robertson’s sorry Televangilist ass responsible for his share of the crimes seems to be the only good that could possibly result from this tale of woe, but that would take journalists of uncommon bravery and an unprecedented commitment of network resources. The very definition of a long shot.
There are a couple of wild cards in the deck. Perhaps after Charles Taylor is convicted and sentenced he would blow the whistle, or perhaps a consortium of black journalists would set this as their personal project. Most likely Pat Robertson will die of old age before the process bound International Court gets off the dime.
The 700 Club’s Overlord will go to his grave with the blood of millions on his hands, and be eulogized by right wing politicos here in the USA. Unfortunately, Shakespeare notwithstanding, the evil he has done will be buried with him. I almost wish the afterlife he sells on TV really existed so that he could burn in his Hell forever.
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