Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Post 9-11 America is a Religion - by George Monbiot

Expand Messages
  • foxxfeather
    Subject: Post 9-11 America is a Religion - by George Monbiot Post-9/11 America Is a Religion George Monbiot, AlterNet July 30, 2003 Viewed on August 1, 2003
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2003
    • 0 Attachment
      Subject: Post 9-11 America is a Religion - by George Monbiot



      Post-9/11 America Is a Religion
      George Monbiot, AlterNet
      July 30, 2003
      Viewed on August 1, 2003

      "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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. security services are the only people who
      cannot see that many Iraqis wish to rid themselves of the U.S. 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 U.S.A, 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 U.S. 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.

      [George Monbiot's books Poisoned Arrows and No Man's Land are
      republished
      this week by Green Books. You can read his other writings at his
      website
      http://www.monbiot.com/.%5d

      I found this at: http://www.alternet.org/story.html?StoryID=16516
    Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.