News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Texas George Rex Judas (1)

Tuesday, September 11, 2001

Texas George Rex Judas (1)

"Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus ..."

(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)

"For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms,
" 'May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,' ... " (Acts 1:16)

President George Bush has been talking a lot about history lately. In a recent speech before assembled war veterans, he compared Iraq to Vietnam, asserting that Vietnam was a loss we could've avoided. The assumption of his speech is that he does not intend to lose Iraq in the same way. In a similar way, he asserted that Korea was lost for lack of will, and this lack now plays out in the form of a divided Korea, with the evil north playing roulette with visions of nuclear Armageddon.

There's much disagreement about Bush's analogy comparing Iraq with Vietnam and Korea. The historians have lined up on both sides of the issue. While I agree with those who see the speech as another piece of fallacious reasoning, that is not the important point that I'll make below. Nor is it that Bush is wrong or right about history. Instead, it's a rather simple, though highly nuanced proposition that I'll make: that by invoking history as final arbiter of whether his decision to go to war Bush is saying something analogous to Judas selling Jesus to the highest bidder.

Politicians, you might think, always appeal to history when the going gets tough. When they unpopular decisions that the public disagrees with, they will say that history will vindicate them. I don't know how many politicians have actually said this. Nor do I know which ones said it. I am willing to bet, though, that Abraham Lincoln rarely if ever made such statements. In the context of what I say below, when and where such statements were made might mitigate somewhat the moral culpability of someone appealing to history in this way.

President Bush has made several statements that appear to line him up with those who assert that history will prove them right. He has famously said:

Asked by Woodward how history would judge the war, Bush replied: "History. We don't know. We'll all be dead."
Such words almost come across like a Yogi Berra quip, one of those oh-so-obvious truisms that they're funny because quirky, yet also somehow profound because it's just--you know--true.

Yet, this statement verges away from Berra's goofy naivety. Given the context and the subject, the comment borders on the supercilious. I would even argue that it gravitates to nihilism, where that means a way of seeing the world as unimportant and empty and thereby fungible.

The philosopher Nietzsche called religious people, especially Xtians, fundamentally nihilistic. he meant that they see the world as just a vale of tears and suffering, with ultimate reality existing in some other realm like heaven. Bush's purported Christian views might support a Nietzschean interpretation of his remarks. What I will suggest below, though is that they can be seen from within an authentic Christian framework as demonic.

When I spend some time with Bush's words reverberating in the silence, they begin to take on a slightly demented hue. For a man driving down the highway of history, the words veer like a drunken car towards an abyss and appears almost hell-bent on driving over. While such a view might give a Stephen-King-like dimension to Bush's saying, there's a deeper sense than simple horror flicks that the man's words, and ultimately his actions, have the character of the demonic.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wonder if any of you guys are familiar with Dark Ages America via: