With God Going On Before. (10/11/2001)

A recent e-mail circulating among various networks from address book to address book showed up on my server this morning from a Reverend Nike Navor which gave an account of George W. Bush's handling of the crisis created by the attack on the WTC in New York on September 11, 2001 AD. The Reverend's praise was effusive, crediting Bush with saving us from eternal death, if not damnation, from the forces and powers and principalities of the Devil and the AntiChrist. A curious moment, repeated no less than five times after it was introduced, occurred in the discourse when the Reverend felt compelled to remind his audience that Bush had narrowly escaped defeat in the election fiasco of 2000. He implied, even stated outright, that Bush's first triumph over Satanic forces occurred when his faith in God upheld him steadfastly against the Democrats' attempt to steal the election in Florida. Given the fact that state election results are wholly in the control of the executive office of the governor in each state, Jeb Bush must have been secretly working for the Democrats, as a kind of Judas I suppose, if the election he controlled was ever in danger of being lost in a recount. No mention was made of the fact that Gore won the popular vote nationwide by a considerable margin. That this issue is still so much on the minds of Christian conservatives, where everyone else has gotten over it and moved on, makes me wonder how sure they are that Bush actually won the election in the first place. That raises another, more serious, question; that is, how much or how little of what Bush is doing now in the face of his war against terrorism is being motivated by a hidden desire to be re-elected as a legitimate President in 2004? What the Reverend actually said was: "This [Bush] was the same man who came within a hair's breadth of losing an election in November, who withstood the political chicanery of the Florida Democratic machine to fix the vote count." I suppose it (Democratic Machine) was more successful nationwide, which accounts for the fact that George W did not win anything there.

Be that as it may; and what actually concerns me more than who won or lost in Florida is the fact that Bush is attempting to turn his already secret and covert war against terrorism into one that is even more hidden, secretive, and mysterious, by restricting information to all but eight members of Congress because the other 527 cannot be trusted as elected representatives of the American people to keep secrets from the enemy. Another recent censorship issue arose over the fact that the Arabic television network of Qatar broadcast a videotape supplied by Osama bin Laden in response to the US and British military action against the Taliban in Afghanistan. Bush requested (ordered?) that US networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, CNN) refrain from carrying such material "live" to the American people. All five networks agreed (stampeded, falling over each other in order to be first) to abide by his wishes. His reasoning was twofold: firstly, the enemy of the American way of life should not be allowed to speak to Americans because "the evil one," as Bush refers to bin Laden, has a message that is nothing but propaganda; and, secondly, there is a danger that bin Laden's videotapes contain secret, coded messages to the leaders of his terrorist cells abroad giving them instructions about where and how and when to launch new terrorist attacks against America. Given the fact that it took the FBI eight days to translate the so-called Terrorist Manual (five handwritten pages) found after the hijackings from Arabic to English, bin Laden hardly needs to code anything he says or writes, since, by the time the FBI figures out what he said, any terrorist act can be put into motion and completed by people who are evil geniuses of death and destruction. This reminds me of the xenophobia displayed by conservative Christians when confronted by heavy metal music-if you play it backwards, they argued, you could hear Satanic messages on it. Well, guess what? Arabic is written, and subsequently read, from right to left; backwards, if the standard applied is English, which is written from left to right. Hence, Arabic, as a language, is necessarily evil and Satanic, simply because it is always written and read backwards.

The point in bringing up coded language, coded speech, is that the Reverend Nike Novar, when he described the lonely figure of George W. Bush returning to his pew after addressing the congregation in the National Cathedral after the attacks in New York and Washington, imagined Bush was hearing the Voice of God (Novar claims he could tell because of the expression on Bush's face) telling him that he [Bush] would be able to handle the crisis well, even very well, because "I [God] am going before you." This is coded speech. This is secret communication. This is Bible-talk, essentially recognizable by any devout Christian, but generally only vaguely meaningful to the rest of us:

"Be therefore sure today that Yahweh your God himself will go in front of you, a devouring fire that will destroy [your enemies], and he himself will subdue them for you; so you will dispossess them and destroy them quickly as Yahweh has promised you." (Deuteronomy 9: 3)

Yahweh made this promise to the Israelites as they were poised on the border of the Promised Land (Palestine) ready to invade and begin the annihilation of the indigenous people who had cultivated it for countless generations, turning it from wilderness and desert into a land "flowing with milk and honey" (Deuteronomy 8: 7-10). Just after assuring His Chosen People that they would be victorious against "nations greater and stronger than yourselves" (9: 1), Yahweh explains why He is acting in this manner: "it is for their wickedness that Yahweh your God dispossesses these nations for you" (9: 5). Here, in just five verses of Biblical scripture, a formula was invented and enshrined as the immutable Word of God, as absolute truth, that first demonizes the Other, indigenous population of a land, desired by a homeless, land-less band of wandering warriors, who are then granted divine permission to begin a program of genocide against a wicked enemy who stands in the way of their desire to possess that which does not belong to them. George W. Bush is using this formula in his war against terrorism, just as his ancestors used it against native Americans over the course of the 500 years of death and destruction that Europeans brought to the Western hemisphere and which they now claim never happened. While Bush has not claimed he has heard the Voice of God, leaving that task to others, Nike Navor for instance, he does tell us that he prays every day seeking guidance and one should suppose that he receives it.

Turning to another, but related issue, Tom DeLay, the Republican majority whip in the House of Representatives, Bush's fellow conservative Christian and also a resident of Texas, chose October 11, 2001 AD, the first-month anniversary of the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, to announce that the leadership of the House was not ever going to consider a bill, which the Senate has already passed 100 to 0, meant to strengthen security against terrorist attacks launched from America's airports. His justification for doing this is a claim that elevating the people who screen luggage and passengers before it and they are allowed to board airplanes from minimum wage employees of private security companies to Federal employees trained to do the job given them will unnecessarily increase the Federal bureaucracy beyond acceptable levels. A slightly more cynical explanation I heard for this decision was that Republicans do not want to federalize airport security because Federal employees tend to join labor unions, members of labor unions tend to vote Democratic, and House Republicans fear adding to the number of people that oppose their policies of refusing to provide adequate security against terrorist attacks launched from American airports.

If DeLay, and his fellow Republican conservatives in the House, are successful in blocking passage of airport security measures, he and they are telling us that it is acceptable government policy to sacrifice thousands of American lives to the random and brutal acts of terrorists. Leaving things the way they are means that virtually anyone can board an airplane with whatever weapons are necessary to seize control of the aircraft. This is true because passenger and baggage screening is the weakest link in airport security. The blocked bill also provides for stronger cockpit doors, which are now so insecure that anyone at all can kick them open. What this means, because the bill also provides funding for more Federal Sky-Marshals, is that unarmed passengers are wholly responsible for preventing aircraft hijackings. If, and when, they fail to do so, F-16's are launched to intercept the hijacked plane. This has happened four time since September 11th. People probably believe that those jet fighters are there to somehow subdue the terrorists who have control of the plane. But that is not their purpose or their function. They are there to shoot down the plane if it threatens any civilian or military target on the ground. The point is that, if passengers fail to protect the aircraft from hijackers, they are dead.

This is how the leadership of the Republican House of Representatives perceives its mission to help Americans fight George W. Bush's war against terrorists. Dick Armey, another Christian conservative Texan, majority leader of the House, Tom Delay, and their cohorts, have made it perfectly clear whose side they are on: they have decided to make Americans easy targets of terrorism, on the one hand, by refusing to authorize reasonable security measures to prevent hijackings, and then to make us wholly responsible for preventing it from happening in the air. When we fail, we then become the targets, not of terrorists, but of our own government's F-16's, that have been fully authorized to blow us out of the sky to protect government installations, even the US Capitol where DeLay and Armey spend their time turning us into helpless victims of their twisted perception of what a Representative of the People is supposed to be. My sense is that George W. Bush ought to look on his list of secret al-Qaeda agents for the names of the people who legislate his policies in the US Congress. If Armey and DeLay are not now on that list, they ought to be added to it.

Back to Index