WASHINGTON, D.C. -- It's been a tough week for prelates and politicians. As the U.N. General Assembly began its annual seance in New York, Pope Benedict XVI, head of 1 billion Roman Catholics across the world, and arguably Christendom's most visible leader, was threatened with death by Muslim extremists. Not one of the visiting dignitaries to the "World Body" -- as the United Nations is fond of describing itself -- so much as raised a plucked eyebrow or waved a manicured finger at this outrage. Perhaps that's because the very secular U.N. Charter deftly avoids any mention of God, a Creator, a Supreme Being or even a benign mention of Divine Providence. It just wouldn't be appropriate to denounce those who threatened a mere religious figure.
But if defending the faithful is taboo at the United Nations, it's hard to explain two of the subsequent center-ring acts at this annual circus. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used his appearance before the General Assembly to proffer a 30-minute tutorial on Islamic theology. Of course he also managed to work into his sermon the obligatory denunciation of the United States -- a recurring theme in the big blue building that could not exist without the support of U.S. tax dollars.
Then, in keeping with this year's liturgical setting, Venezuela's Marxist president Hugo Chavez, fresh from a Non-Aligned Movement meeting in Havana, used the General Assembly's "World Stage" to describe U.S. President George W. Bush as Satan incarnate. As the cameras swung through the great hall, no delegate was seen storming out in disgust as the head of state of the most generous nation on earth was vilified by a tin-horn oil baron.
The moral inconsistency -- in what is said -- and left unsaid at the United Nations would be inexplicable were it not for one commodity: oil. The pope has no oil wells -- and therefore isn't worth defending. Messrs. Ahmadinejad and Chavez have a lot of oil -- so they can't be insulted. The Wahhabi princes and potentates whose imams spew threats at the bishop of Rome have lots of oil. Apparently the "civilized world" -- the consumers of all this oil -- dare not offend the purveyors of hatred lest they decide to raise prices or cut us off.
Today, oil fuels more than advanced economies -- it feeds the fires of hatred. The beneficiaries of our petrodollars -- nearly all are autocratic regimes -- now finance the instruments of our demise. The leaders of these nations and their minions -- in mosques, media and embassies -- can say the most outrageous things imaginable. Worse, they have discovered that they can extort silence from those who depend on a steady supply of light crude.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.