Friday, June 22, 2007

Bush's Deadly Virtues

Glenn Greenwald, who will be releasing his new book "A Tragic Legacy" next week, has a post up today in which he quotes Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic quite
There is still a chance to repair the damage -- but given how much we have lost since 9/11, the constitutional consequences of another major attack are likely to be terminal to the American experiment in liberty. If a Giuliani or a Cheney is in power on such a day, we can kiss goodbye to the constitution. . . . America has exchanged some if its basic freedoms for the patina of phony security -- and so easily. The Republican party, to its historic shame, has been the main vehicle for the replacement of doubt, empiricism and calm judgment with certainty, fundamentalism and raw force.

Greenwald goes on the explain the purpose behind his book, and his blog:
The principal value, and the necessity, of examining the underlying assumptions and beliefs which have led us to this point -- an examination which is the primary purpose of A Tragic Legacy -- is not merely to provide some historical account of the last six years. Rather, it is to describe the extreme challenges America faces in recovering from the Bush legacy and, more important still, to expose the corrupt foundations of our political discourse -- ones embraced by the right-wing movement and our establishment media figures alike -- in order to change the terms and outcomes of those debates.

Greenwald goes on to note the futility of debating whether or not Bush's conversion is real or opportunistic, saying "the need to combat and refute the framework he offers -- that those who are committed to Christian piety must join his battles -- is urgent whether or not he personally, deep down, truly believes in those claims." In response, I left the following comment, which I was hoping would prompt a reply:

I agree that, rather than focusing on whether their alleged conversion is real or not, we first need to combat the destructive actions and uncover the philosophical framework that lies beneath leaders like Bush and Nkunda. Whether they quote scripture for devilish purposes or truly believe their unlawful, immoral, unChristlike means are justified is a question for historians as we have bigger, more pressing fish to fry.

Bill Moyers created a series in the late 80's which featured the Rev. Forrest Church (son of Sen. Frank Church of the commission) in which he described our nation's "virtues" as potentially more dangerous than our "sins." He summarized this by warning that "the devil most often appears in drag." Recently, Church commented on the grip of Bush's brand of Christianity on our foreign policy:

American fundamentalism... by trivializing sin into a moralistic catalogue of personal foibles... reserve[s] the badge of real evil for others... Luther put it this way: "The final sin of man is his unwillingness to concede that he is a sinner. ... [R]evelations of prisoner abuse in Iraq... should serve as a reminder to all of us, especially the idealists who drive our nation's foreign policy, of the first law of history: to "Choose your enemies carefully, for you will become like them."

Isn't that a pretty good summary of "the Decider" and his tragic legacy? Rather than contemplating how the sermon on the mount (which ironically I discovered via a reference in Vonnegut's last book) should affect a Christian politician's view of government, he simply says "We don't torture" and forces the soldier who reported this into retirement. (And he does this after viewing a picture of a naked Iraqi decorated by an American soldier with lights made in a Chinese factory to celebrate Christ's birth!) In short, the administration is so blinded an "with us or against us" mentality, that they don't see evil even when it plainly emerges from our side.

Rather than mobilizing the moral authority we held in the pre-9/11 world or utilizing any of the world's sympathy we received as a result of it, they disregard this rule of history, along with the Constitution and the law they swore to uphold. Instead of considering whether their policies made us like our enemies, their only response was (and still is) to accuse anyone who questions them of being a terrorist sympathizer or even an outright enemy.

This policy not only distorts true Christianity and corrupts our nation's legacy, it also plays right into the hands of a fundamentalist Islamic radical who similarly, though mistakenly, believes his own faith permits him to use devilish means to achieve heavenly ends."

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