Hubris

The Bush administration is taking concrete steps to dismantle the New Deal and the civil rights advances we have enjoyed since the 1870s, and is increasing the influence of fanatical religious organizations, racial bigots and social darwinists to turn us away from enlightenment and civilization.

Hubris

Postby harper pine » Tue Jul 29, 2003 12:52 pm

America is a religion

US leaders now see themselves as priests of a divine mission to rid the world of its demons


George Monbiot
Tuesday July 29, 2003
The Guardian


The death of Uday and Qusay," the commander of the ground forces in Iraq told reporters on Wednesday, "is definitely going to be a turning point for the resistance." Well, it was a turning point, but unfortunately not of the kind he envisaged. On the day he made his announcement, Iraqi insurgents killed one US soldier and wounded six others. On the following day, they killed another three; over the weekend they assassinated five and injured seven. Yesterday they slaughtered one more and wounded three. This has been the worst week for US soldiers in Iraq since George Bush declared that the war there was over.

Few people believe that the resistance in that country is being coordinated by Saddam Hussein and his noxious family, or that it will come to an end when those people are killed. But the few appear to include the military and civilian command of the United States armed forces. For the hundredth time since the US invaded Iraq, the predictions made by those with access to intelligence have proved less reliable than the predictions made by those without. And, for the hundredth time, the inaccuracy of the official forecasts has been blamed on "intelligence failures".

The explanation is wearing a little thin. Are we really expected to believe that the members of the US security services are the only people who cannot see that many Iraqis wish to rid themselves of the US army as fervently as they wished to rid themselves of Saddam Hussein? What is lacking in the Pentagon and the White House is not intelligence (or not, at any rate, of the kind we are considering here), but receptivity. Theirs is not a failure of information, but a failure of ideology.

To understand why this failure persists, we must first grasp a reality which has seldom been discussed in print. The United States is no longer just a nation. It is now a religion. Its soldiers have entered Iraq to liberate its people not only from their dictator, their oil and their sovereignty, but also from their darkness. As George Bush told his troops on the day he announced victory: "Wherever you go, you carry a message of hope - a message that is ancient and ever new. In the words of the prophet Isaiah, 'To the captives, "come out," and to those in darkness, "be free".'"

So American soldiers are no longer merely terrestrial combatants; they have become missionaries. They are no longer simply killing enemies; they are casting out demons. The people who reconstructed the faces of Uday and Qusay Hussein carelessly forgot to restore the pair of little horns on each brow, but the understanding that these were opponents from a different realm was transmitted nonetheless. Like all those who send missionaries abroad, the high priests of America cannot conceive that the infidels might resist through their own free will; if they refuse to convert, it is the work of the devil, in his current guise as the former dictator of Iraq.


As Clifford Longley shows in his fascinating book Chosen People, published last year, the founding fathers of the USA, though they sometimes professed otherwise, sensed that they were guided by a divine purpose. Thomas Jefferson argued that the Great Seal of the United States should depict the Israelites, "led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night". George Washington claimed, in his inaugural address, that every step towards independence was "distinguished by some token of providential agency". Longley argues that the formation of the American identity was part of a process of "supersession". The Roman Catholic church claimed that it had supplanted the Jews as the elect, as the Jews had been repudiated by God. The English Protestants accused the Catholics of breaking faith, and claimed that they had become the beloved of God. The American revolutionaries believed that the English, in turn, had broken their covenant: the Americans had now become the chosen people, with a divine duty to deliver the world to God's dominion. Six weeks ago, as if to show that this belief persists, George Bush recalled a remark of Woodrow Wilson's. "America," he quoted, "has a spiritual energy in her which no other nation can contribute to the liberation of mankind."

Gradually this notion of election has been conflated with another, still more dangerous idea. It is not just that the Americans are God's chosen people; America itself is now perceived as a divine project.
In his farewell presidential address, Ronald Reagan spoke of his country as a "shining city on a hill", a reference to the Sermon on the Mount. But what Jesus was describing was not a temporal Jerusalem, but the kingdom of heaven. Not only, in Reagan's account, was God's kingdom to be found in the United States of America, but the kingdom of hell could also now be located on earth: the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union, against which His holy warriors were pitched.

Since the attacks on New York, this notion of America the divine has been extended and refined. In December 2001, Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of that city, delivered his last mayoral speech in St Paul's Chapel, close to the site of the shattered twin towers. "All that matters," he claimed, "is that you embrace America and understand its ideals and what it's all about. Abraham Lincoln used to say that the test of your Americanism was ... how much you believed in America. Because we're like a religion really. A secular religion." The chapel in which he spoke had been consecrated not just by God, but by the fact that George Washington had once prayed there. It was, he said, now "sacred ground to people who feel what America is all about". The United States of America no longer needs to call upon God; it is God, and those who go abroad to spread the light do so in the name of a celestial domain. The flag has become as sacred as the Bible; the name of the nation as holy as the name of God. The presidency is turning into a priesthood.

So those who question George Bush's foreign policy are no longer merely critics; they are blasphemers, or "anti-Americans". Those foreign states which seek to change this policy are wasting their time: you can negotiate with politicians; you cannot negotiate with priests. The US has a divine mission, as Bush suggested in January: "to defend ... the hopes of all mankind", and woe betide those who hope for something other than the American way of life.

The dangers of national divinity scarcely require explanation. Japan went to war in the 1930s convinced, like George Bush, that it possessed a heaven-sent mission to "liberate" Asia and extend the realm of its divine imperium. It would, the fascist theoretician Kita Ikki predicted: "light the darkness of the entire world". Those who seek to drag heaven down to earth are destined only to engineer a hell.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/usa/story/0,12271,1007813,00.html
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Postby David Campo » Tue Jul 29, 2003 2:12 pm

Bizarre, but not at all surprising.

Bush and his followers tend to be addle-brained and hypnotized, just as those who follow and believe implicitly in organized Christianity. Just as those clowns believe THEY are right and nobody else could be, the same goes for this messianic mission of spreading "good" and "right" and "God" to other countries. After all, they can't wait to get to their heaven, and the only way to do that is to believe in JESUS and/or BUSH/USA.

A mental defect that's always been there in this country has risen to the surface thanks to 9-11 and the fear it engendered. Bush is, as one caller to a talkshow said last week, the Second Coming in the minds of these imbeciles. Things are beyond scary.
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Postby harper pine » Tue Jul 29, 2003 3:47 pm

Bush is, as one caller to a talkshow said last week, the Second Coming...


That's funny... I thought he was the antichrist.
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Postby harper pine » Wed Aug 13, 2003 11:13 am

August 12, 2003

Hubris in the White House

What Would J.R. Do?


By WENDY BRINKER

A common element found throughout the Greek tragedies is the damnable condition of hubris. Through a character flaw inherent within the hero's psyche, a flaw sometimes referred to as hamartia or bad judgment, the hero becomes lulled by his own charm. Miscalculating reality and overestimating his invincibility, he begins to believe his own myth and defy the gods. As a matter of course, our misguided hero develops a raging case of hubris, or megalomania, and through his defiance and arrogance invites catastrophe and with it, his own demise. We, the audience, experience a catharsis and feel purged or psychically cleansed witnessing this tragic figure fall to humiliating, complete and total ruin.

W was born the least of the Bush sons, into an empire headed by an ex-CIA director and ex-president who's used the lines of the globe as his own personal chess board for decades. At first glance it is difficult to understand why the story should read that W rises to power. But it becomes apparent if you follow the subplot. Terrible forces have intervened and W turns out to be a mischievous god's gift to the Carlyle Group--a perfect patsy. And he's just stupid enough to believe his own myth. A terror to those he rules, but a blessing to those who rule him. Biggy Rat and Itchy Brother have finally ousted King Leonardo and they reign supreme over Bongo Congo. (Biggy's the one with the smirk--the one whose company got the no-bid contracts.)

And if there's anything to be learned from one of pop culture's greatest "real-life-as-told-by-rich-Hollywood-stars" episodics--there are two things an oil man can never get enough of--oil and power and they'll stop at nothing to get more. Greed and power-driven Cheney and Bush could not resist the urge to take the blank check they imagined receiving on 9/11 and spend it taking Iraq, a country rich in oil and strategic position. And they really thought they could get away with it--however nonexistent the evidence for an invasion. This current scenario in America's foreign policy is a worse farce than the infamous "dream" season of Dallas. The audacity of the writers to think we'd buy it! Well, we did keep watching.

Joseph Campbell, a scholar in the field of comparative mythology, would have perhaps characterized the present quandary as a classic "Good v. Evil" tale. A maniacal madman sets out to rule the universe. Like a dark overlord, Bush has used the US military to build his empire, sending young Americans to kill and die for oil, insulted the world community, broken international law and set dangerous protocol. At home, he's given the rich huge tax cuts while unemployment is estimated in double digits, is spending 5 billion a month to occupy the Middle East, and reversed years of progress on protecting the environment. But everyone knows when you mix total evil with total stupidity, stupidity always foils the dastardly devils, unraveling the evil plot in the end.

Surely good will triumph--right? We're more connected and much more educated about what's happening in geopolitics. And even under the well-crafted stewardship of Colin's begotten, Michael, the FCC, the corporate media conglomerates like Clear Channel and the defense contractors posing as journalists have not managed to block out every ray of truth in the media. Some truths do survive and grow, even thrive between the cracks of gray area and doublespeak. Surely mainstream media's smart enough to get with the program and hard questions will keep coming forth--right? Here is where we, the audience, must pick up our pens and write the end of the story.

The cold fact is that war doesn't read like fiction to the people of Iraq nor the soldiers sent there to carry out the oil men's bidding. They can't pick up another book, they can't turn the channel. Death, war and occupation are their reality. Thousands of innocents have died since this unprovoked campaign of violence and greed began in March. We must demand that special prosecutors be appointed, impeachment procedures initiated, and we should accept nothing less for this administration than complete and total ruin. There is no happy ending, but a lesson in justice would be the cathartic closure the world needs to experience.

Wendy Brinker is an artist, activist and co-host of The Seed Show, a morning drive-time talk radio show in Columbia, SC.


http://www.counterpunch.org/brinker08122003.html
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Arrogance

Postby LetterMan » Sat Jul 10, 2004 4:27 am

These people make King John seem to be the paragon of humility.

That will prove to be their undoing in the end, I think.
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Postby Ferguson Foont » Sat Jul 10, 2004 11:49 am

One of the most curious aspect about this new wave of Christian literalism is that the Bible that they refer to as the literal truth is invariably the King James version.

There are NO religious scholars who regard the King James version of the Bible as being in any way an accurate translation from any of the original tongues in which any the Books of the Bible, whether in the Old Testament or New, were written. It was designed as poetry, not scripture, and is certainly the least reliable reference for scriptural accuracy among all of the various versions.
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King James and his version of the Bible

Postby LetterMan » Sat Jul 10, 2004 2:36 pm

Yup,

And somehow or another we're supposed to believe that Abraham, Moses, Kind David, Jesus Christ, etc. all spoke in King James English?

Believe it or not, I have actually met people who really do believe that.

Wingnuts and right-wing Xtian types are an evolutionary dead-end.
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