Insane evil morons marching to Easter service (was: The Victor's Rights)

Russell Turpin deafbox at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 19 16:54:21 PDT 2003


Conspiracy theories abound, and the Arab world
especially is receptive to them. The Israelis
were behind 9/11. Cheney and Enron were behind
9/11. HIV is the result of US bioweapons
research. The Israelis are working on a deadly
virus to which Jews alone are immune.

What sometimes goes unnoticed is that the
flawed thinking that finds a conspiracy in
every secret meeting is also that which paints
unalloyed wisdom and virtue onto the more mixed
motives of less than brilliant politicians.
Jingoistic patriotism and conspiratorial
paranoia are the obverse sides of the same
coin, and more often than not go hand in hand.
Indeed, which is which depends more on how one
labels the groups involved than on any matter
of substance. The only difference between those
who think a fundamentalist Christian President
can reform the entire mideast in one martial
campaign, and those who think he's on a crusade
against the Muslim, intent on paving the way
for Christian Armageddon, are which angels they
color white, and which black. Both groups see
the angels.

John Hall:
>Had we not installed the Shah, we would have faced a pro-Russian communist 
>government in Iran in the middle of the cold war. The result of that little 
>counter-factual could have led to WWIII.

There were Soviet-friendly governments in any
number of evolving nations. Given that the US
had a more rational government than the USSR,
and that Iran was in the Soviet backyard, any
calculation of odds ante would make it more
likely that WW III might be triggered by putting
Iran under the rule of a puppet tyrant of the
US's. Only retrospective knowledge that this
did not trigger such conflict makes that
alternative seem a little more distant from the
brink.

There are issues that make it imperative to go
to the brink. In this case, the best that can be
said is that the US used Iran in geopolitical
gamesmanship against the USSR, and for business
advantage, and in doing so, was willing to
install and support a puppet tyrant whose secret
police rivaled Saddam's reign for their cruelty.

I try to be optimistic about our conquest of
Iraq. If this war's purpose had been the
liberation of Iraq, if it was led by an
administration that had a sincere belief and
plan for the liberation of disadvantaged
nations and their reconstruction, that would
make it easier. But the same people who parrot
that as their cause and justification today,
(a) were unwilling to make that a part of the
reason prior to war preparations, (b) are trying
to trumpet this achievement before the real work
towards it has begun, (c) have yet to bite the
bullet on nation building, still seem half-
hearted about such an endeavor, and have not
much explained their plan for it, instead
expecting the world just to watch as it unfolds,
(d) are already preparing the spin for its
failure: 'that's up to the Iraqis, but at least
we will have given them another few years,' and
(e) are all too willing to justify support for
tyrants like Saddam and Pahlavi, when it suits
their geopolitical gamesmanship. That makes
their current trumpeting of "liberation" ring
more than a little hollow. They see the angels
on their side, and color them white.

Are they insane? No, this kind of thinking is
natural to people. Except when carried to the
most extreme of extremes, it belongs more in a
description of human nature than in the DSM.
Muslims believe that an angel whispered the Quran
in Mohammed's ear, and see Bush as leading a
crusade. The Mormons believe an angel conveyed
the true scripture on gold plate. Fundamentalist
Jews believe that they, as a people, have a
special relationship to the god who created the
universe, and for some, this mandates their
politics with regard to what land Israel must
keep or gain. Fundamentalist Christians believe
that the only way this god could keep himself
from frying all humanity in eternal fire was by
incarnating himself and sacrificing himself to
himself. How can anyone sane believe THAT? Yet
tomorrow, the vast majority of Americans will
give vapid and rapt attention to sermons
celebrating it. Franklin Graham preached it at
the Pentagon. And he calls Mohammed evil.

Are all these people morons? The scary thing is
that they aren't. People who scored 1600 on
their GREs, who are doctors and judges, who
clearly have a modicum of intelligence, happily
join the march and turn their intelligence to
its purpose. They have written libraries of
subtle sophistry and apologetic for their
conspiracies, mandates, theologies, destinies,
dialectics, prophecies, and manifestos. It all
is wrong-headed. But it's not the work of
morons. The lack isn't of intelligence, but of
honest thought.

Jeff Bone wants to check out (of this nation?)
if Bush is re-elected. I hope he is correct in
predicting that the electorate is about to
return to a pragmatic moderation. But if not,
where will he run? Most of the world marches
to this kind of song.

I do see change. There are large numbers
opposing ideological fanaticism of all stripe,
in west Europe, and some in the US. I like to
think the general trend is progressive, even if
a couple of Great Awakenings and revivals and
the birth of modern fundamentalism have set
the US a bit aback. It's hard to see much
improvement in the Mideast, a region today
fully dedicated to faith and ideology. And
that, more than anything, is central to the
issue of reform there.


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