05/19/2004: I'm trying....
not to overuse the word "scary" this week. And I'm not doing a very good job of it. Rick Perlstein has a very good, but scary, piece in The Village Voice: The Jesus Landing Pad. From the article:
It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.Juan Cole adds a pertinent comment:
But now we know.
"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.
The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and David's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.
[T]he looney tunes Christians who are trying to kill and dispossess the poor Palestinians to drag Jesus back may as well just give it up. He wasn't treated well enough by humankind the first time to want to come back, so we're on our own, and we may as well stop being barbaric to one another in his name.I'm just going to put my biases out front. The big problem I have with apocalyptic millenialism like this is that it's just so fucking stupid--I can't imagine how anyone with two functioning neurons s/he can rub together can take this crap seriously. So that the White House apparently takes this seriously is more terrifying than I can describe.
It has for some time been obvious to me that the Bush foreign policy in the Middle East is driven by irrational and often puzzling considerations. But I hadn't stopped to consider, until Perlstein's excellent piece, that the White House is trying to bring about an apocalypse that would hasten Christ's return. And a damn fine job they're doing of it, if that's what they are up to. Why the place is more apocalyptic every day. The one downside for Bush is that he is beholden not just to the far right Christian looney fringe but also to Wall Street, and the latter can't actually be very happy with the roller coaster ride his policies are producing for their investments. Unlike poor people, moreover, the monied both vote and give to political campaigns.
Len on 05.19.04 @ 07:52 PM CST