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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Barack Obama's appeal to the rational brain
Posted by Jill | 9:33 AM
Wow...what a concept. A presidential candidate who, when faced with embarrassing behavior, addresses the nation directly about the controversy, instead of hedging:

Frankly, while I find Rev. Wright's words and tone to be unnecessarily inflammatory, I also find that I don't have a lot of argument with anything he said.

We live in a culture that has been defined by victimology ever since the 9/11 attacks. We like to think we are a strong people, but look at how Americans have behaved over the last six-plus years. Yes, this country endured a terrible attack. Thousands lost their lives on September 11, 2001. But it is not "hating America" to say that we have to look at our policies and the leaders we have supported, often under the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" doctrine, to LEARN from what happened and avoid similar situations in the future.

There's no getting around the fact that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were directly spawned by American policy -- in this case, arming the Afghan Mujahadeen against the Soviets during the latter's invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1980's. There's also no getting around the fact that the American policy of "Israel By Definition Can Do No Wrong" has contributed to the mess we now find in the Middle East.

That doesn't make me an anti-Semite. I am not religious, but I am a Jew. I have had relatives who endured the pogroms in Russia and Poland and others who died in Hitler's camps. I've had many conversations with many people, including my own spouse, about Israel. I support Israel's right to exist, at the same time as I see its founding as a mistake; a misguided attempt by the U.S. and Europe to somehow atone for its appalling lack of concern about what was happening to the Jews under Hitler. It's hardly surprising that Israel is a paranoid country. You aren't paranoid if they really ARE out to get you. In placing the Jewish state smack in the middle of disputed lands, the Allied countries that helped set up that country virtually ensured that this so-called haven for Jews when all else fails would never be any kind of a haven.

The fact remains that Israel exists, and we cannot, nor should we, dismantle it. That said, we have to stop this knee-jerk ZOMG HE ATTACKED ISRAEL HE MUST BE WRONG attitude every time someone dares to bring up how our policy has often been shown to be problematic.

Having gotten that out of the way, we also know that one of Osama bin Laden's beefs was our bases in Saudi Arabia. Well, after 9/11, the Bush Administration closed our bases in Saudi Arabia. But now we are establishing permanent bases in Iraq. And so it starts all over again.

We ARE a country of punkass bullies. For six years we have been a people hell-bent on revenge. The civilian body count in Iraq is in the tens to hundreds of thousands -- and still we do not feel we've gotten even. At the same time, we continue to allow those who would exploit our fears to perpetuate their wars for oil, for booty, for empire, for hegemony, to tap into that part of our brain that's like the last frame of the Life in Hell cartoon I posted yesterday -- the one that lies awake at night terrified at the prospect of our own nonexistence.

I'd like to believe that the knee-jerk reaction to the tone of Rev. Wright's comments as opposed to their content are a result of our knowledge, much as we hate to face it, that our own government has reached what I call the Tipping Point of Evil -- monstrousness so profound that we simply cannot fathom any leaders we elect -- or allow to be selected -- could possibly be as evil as our currentl leadership seems to be. We know that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. We know that Osama bin Laden is still out there. We know that we have not vanquished al-Qaeda and we know that the Taliban are regaining control in Afghanistan. We also know that the life we've led for the last fifty years; a life of prosperity relative to the rest of the world, is imperiled. We fear for our future and that of our children, but we know we're powerless against the corporations whose survival is placed at a higher priority by our government than that of our citizens.

And so we continue to be afraid, caged animals, clinging desperately to the last vestiges of hope that somehow everything will work out, that this nightmare will end. We cling desperately to the notion of inherent American goodness. We cling to this idea that somehow the blessings we have had are the will of the universe -- of God, if you like. And we are willing to lash out in anger at all of those who would dare to tear down our wall of delusion by sheer force of will.

I myself am far more offended at the ongoing pattern of hatred shown by John McCain's spiritual advisers, the Reverends John Hagee and Rod Parsley. For their hatred is a manifestation of what I see as a perverted form of the teachings of the Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. It's a perversion that calls for support of a nation (Israel) only because you need the citizens of that nation -- and every other one -- to convert or be burnt alive for your own religious dream to come true. It's a religion as perverted as radical Islam -- and yet its practitioners are allowed to pass themselves off as mainstream, and be acceptable ajuncts to a Republican presidential candidate, because something called Christianity is still the dominent spiritual tradition in this country.

I am far more offended when people I regard as friends ask me if I really believe that Barack Obama is loyal enough to this country -- because they've received e-mails making all kinds of scurrilous accusations because he has a middle name we associate with a Very Bad Guy. I am far more offended that religion, whatever its form, is having such a prominent place in our political discourse.

In politics, we should be dealing with what IS -- with the rational world -- what we can see, hear, taste, and touch. Belief in some great white alpha male in the sky that you can't prove exists has no place in this process. If I'm offended at anything regarding where Barack Obama goes to church, or who his pastor is, it's that he has to talk about it at all. I don't care whether Barack Obama believes in Joshua of Nazareth as the literal son of God, or even if he believes in God. It's none of my business, just as it's none of his, or John McCain's, or anyone's business what I believe.

It's time to get God out of politics. It's time to stop allowing ignorance from both our leaders and our fellow citizens to color the decisions we have to make about where we go as a nation. It's time to stop looking at American policy through this pink prism of inherent goodness. It's time we became adults and started realizing that our actions as a nation have consequences, and that we citizens end up living with those consequences.

If this foofarah over Rev. Wright were to have any good come out of it, we would have a dialogue about what he said, rather than scurrying like so many cockroaches back under the rock of American delusion in which we live most of the time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
Very, very good post, Jill.

Hear, hear---and then some! More, more!

Blogger Jayhawk said...
We live in a culture that has been defined by victimology ever since the 9/11 attacks. We like to think we are a strong people, but look at how Americans have behaved over the last six-plus years.

A nation of cravens, cowering in our foxholes crying "Keep me safe" while less than 1% bear arms in "defense of freedom."

...spawned by American policy -- in this case, arming the Afghan Mujahadeen against the Soviets...

Less that, I think, than the abandonment of them afterward and the failure to help rebuild what we had precipitated the destruction of.

I support Israel's right to exist, at the same time as I see its founding as a mistake

Yes, but one which could be survived had we not compounded it by condoning its illegal occupation of territories captured by force, and its ongoing violent nature against its neighbors.

We ARE a country of punkass bullies.

And like all bullies, incredibly violent based on fear. Notice that none of the candidates are mentioning that they will overall reduce the warlike posture we present to the world. Even Obama, while claiming that he will talk with friends and enemies alike, maintains that "all options will be on the table."

Blogger SteveAudio said...

Well said.

Blogger adam k. said...
I'm starting to really like Obama. And given the options left, he's by far the best. I'm already starting to think of him as the next president of the U.S. (or even as the current one, since real current one's become so irrelevant). I'll be very disappointed if Hillary steals the nom from him, or if John McCain steals the general.

Blogger Unknown said...
Heh, you said "booty."

Blogger Distributorcap said...
you wrote the words right out of my mouth

great post