WHY RELIGIOUS PEOPLE SUPPORT BUSH'S LIES
24 Nov 2003
Dr. Gerry Lower, Keystone, South Dakota
To para phrase Michael Kinsley (The Limits of Eloquence, Slate, Nov 14, 2003), How can one's current beliefs be accepted as being "transcendentally correct" if one has recently stated beliefs quite the opposite. How can one say "up" and point "down" and then turn around and say "up" and point "up"? In that regard, "George Bush's powers of persuasion are apparently so spectacular, at least to some, that almost all the pro-Bush voices in Washington and the media have remained pro-Bush even when "pro-Bush" means the opposite of what it did five minutes ago."
The truth of "up" and "down" does not matter in Bush World. All that matters is the power to dictate which is which, control mania exemplified. Bush World is a religious manipulation unfettered by the restrictions of knowledge and elementary logic. In this regard, Kinsley gives too much credit to Bush's "powers of persuasion" and not enough credit to the gullibility of religious conservatives.
In the wake of the World Trade Center tragedy and in preparing for an unprovoked war on Iraq, the American people initially supported George Bush because George was, afterall, their president and America had been attacked. In fulfillment of their collective need for vengeance, the people wanted to trust in George Bush's embrace of fundamentalism and its ready provision of justification for "getting even."
Rallying around religion and the flag was seen as a wonderful thing for an American citizenry that had moved far away from its collective roots in farm, ranch and community life, far away even from each other in our competition for both fiscal surival and wealth. Rallying around anything seemed better than no rallying at all. Unfortunately, as is now apparent, it is honest agreement on the truth, not the common need for vengeance, that provides the more stable ground upon which to rally. Our Father's requested that we practice independence from papal and monarchical authority, not independence from each other.
The people wanted to believe that Saddam Hussein was involved in the World Trade Center devastation, they wanted to believe that Hussein was connected to al Quaida and bin Laden's terrorism, because these beliefs that provided an outlet for vengeance. Insofar as George Bush has received blind support from those willing to act with a vengeance, this decidedly non-Christian need has been adequately fulfilled in Afghanistan and Iraq, not by achieving anything remotely resembling justice but by bombing both "nations" of tribes back into the stone age.
The people wanted to believe that Hussein was in possession of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and that, in being able to use them at a moment's notice, he posed an immediate and dire threat to America and the "free" world, a belief that nourished further rallying of the religious right by fabricating a common, external enemy worthy of the people's fear.
Today the entire world knows that most everything George Bush told his religious supporters was fabricated and designed to lead the people into an unprovoked war (immoral by definition in everyone's eyes but those of the blindly religious). The only remaining justifications for the war on Iraq are bad religious attitudes and capitalistic greed and control mania.
While external fears still linger in the American cultural air, the Bush administration is no longer supported by those with a dire need for vengeance or for protection from Saddam Hussein. George Bush increasingly gets his support from internal fears on the part of his religious supporters.
To admit that the war on Iraq was launched and is maintained on immoral ground (because it was based on religious attitudes, fabrications and fear-laden hype) would be nothing short of a crisis of self-identity and self-concept for religious fundamentalists.
How can Old Testament believers possibly be immoral? How can the people of the "Good Book" possibly do wrong in the eyes of their all-seeing and all-knowing Old Testament God? How, indeed? How can the religious right wing come to terms with Bush's lies and failures? The answer is that they simply cannot. They have no choice but to rest their case on fabrications and transcendental self-righteousness.
For religious fundamentalists to admit error would be to denigrate their heavenly source of authority and themselves for abiding supernatural authority. It would require admiting their humanness and fallibility. It would require giving up on the notion that George Bush's words are somehow transcendent (when they do not even transcendent the realm of dirty lies).
America's neofundamentalists have, in the western religious tradition, locked themselves into an untenable position by their own beliefs and actions. There is no escape from religious blunder, no way to return to empirical reality without losing control over both the faithful and reality.
This is always what happens when one administers violence based on "transcendent" belief. There is simply no way, in case of failure, to cover one's ass honestly and intelligently. In the face of lies and failure, Bush's support is no longer based on belief in his policies and practices. His support is based increasingly on the need of his followers to maintain their religious self-identity as "compassionate" conservatives and would be "Christians."
This fear of losing one's religious self-identity on the part of Bush's supporters will ensure that the Bush agenda of capitalistic neoimperialism, however inconsistent that might be with the values of Democracy, will be preserved and fulfilled to the extent possible, until it all falls for its utter lack of honest truth and human values.
The more encompassing freedoms beneath Jefferson's democracy are "freedom from fear and ignorance," freedoms which cover considerable ground. It was freedom from the fear of religious oppression, for example, which demanded the separation of church and state. Bush World thrives on religious fear and ignorance, and Bush's policies and programs will remain transcendent in the eyes of his loyal followers.
Wake up good people. The Bush administration has dumbed even good religious people down such that they can no longer make a distinction between the values of democracy and the values of religious despotism, between the values of Christianity and the values of Old Testament vengeance-based religion, between the values of fairness and equality and the values of crony capitalism. Because they have sacrificed themselves to Bush's "god," most religious people in America no longer know what they are talking about.
Dr. Gerry Lower lives in Keystone, South Dakota. His primary concern is the development of a rigorously-definable global philosophy and ethics suitable for a global democracy. His new book, "Jefferson's Eyes - Deist Views of Bush World," can be explored at www.jeffersonseyes.com and he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .