Monday, June 18, 2007

With God on our side

One of the enduring paradoxes of current American politics is the question of how, in the face of overwhelming evidence, George W. Bush can continue policies so widely viewed as destined for failure?

And even more exasperating, how can 29% of Americans still support him in that effort?

In his new book, now available to pre-order at Amazon, Salon contributor and CaliBlogger must-read, Glenn Greenwald, posits a fairly straightforward explanation:

At the heart of this process lies a binary moralistic view of the world, one which seeks to define every conflict and political challenge, both foreign and domestic, as a battle of Good versus Evil. The crux of this mindset is the continuous identification of an Enemy, one which embodies Evil and which must be stopped, typically destroyed, at all costs. No competing considerations, no rational arguments, no counter-balancing objectives, not even constraints of reality or resources, can compete with the moral imperative of this mission. The mission of destroying Evil trumps all.

And the converse then also falls comfortably into place: those who seek to destroy Evil -- whether it be America, or President Bush, or the right-wing political faction that has supported the Bush presidency -- are, by definition, the embodiment of Good. Thus, whatever steps they take, whatever instruments they employ in service of their mission, are intrinsically justifiable because, by definition, they are employed in service of the Good.

Your CaliBlogger has long held the belief that portraying the world in terms of Good and Evil enables those who would think of themselves as Good to commit, or at least abide, the most unspeakable acts. Thus the collective yawn with which most Americans seem to greet news of torture and murder, all committed by our government, and in our name.

So, discerning reader, please be ware of any polemicists characterizing world events as a struggle between good and evil (or its secular counterpart, madness). Either they are deluding themselves, or they are trying to delude you.

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