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RHETORIC WATCH : Witch Hunting

August 27, 1992

Iowa's voters will decide on Nov. 3 whether to amend their state constitution to outlaw sex discrimination. That prospect leaves evangelist Pat Robertson aghast. Pitching for money to defeat the proposed equal rights amendment Robertson, in a fund-raising letter, assures Iowans that the measure is simply a ploy by "radical feminists" to further their "secret agenda" of waging "open war on the American family." Robertson doesn't reveal how he discovered this agenda, but he is certain of its contents. "It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians. " Wow! That's some crazy agenda, all right.

When it comes to directly taking on Iowa's ERA proponents, however, Robertson is rather more circumspect. The most "radical" statement from the amendment's supporters that he can come up with is "A YES vote in Iowa would open the door for other states to take the long overdue step of including women in their constitutions." That's pretty scary stuff, we suppose, if your mind happens to be stuck in the 13th Century.

Can there be those who truly believe that banning sex discrimination encourages such hideous crimes as child-murder, or that the only thing standing between healthy family life and an outbreak of "witchcraft" is defeat of an equal rights amendment? Robertson believes, or so he claims, as he appeals fervently if not to the minds then certainly to the checkbooks of Iowa's voters, in the land where the tall corn grows.

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