Thursday, August 19, 2010

Americist Fundamentalists

As I understand Karen Armstrong in "The Battle for God", a perceived threat of annihilation provokes rigid "us and them" thinking which in turn results in - let's not mince words - atrocities. Her concern was Christian, Jewish and Islamic fundamentalism, but I think she's overlooked a powerful new religion - "Americism."

Americism is unrelated to the American Constitution.

Americists believe in The Flag, a totem of goodness and vailidation that transcends words and finds its purest expression in the Superbowl and Playboy. The inherent contradictions in such beliefs are obliterated by self-serving rationalizations, among them being that people are rich because they desrve to be, and that people are poor because they deserve to be. Everybody gets what they desrve, like Roxanne Pulitzer who married into a rich family that - among other sacrifices - liked watching people having sex with dogs. It's the American Dream.

And then of course we have Dick Cheney, who was careful to distinguish between the "rule of law" and the "rule of men", which is precisely the same distinction made by George Orwell who said: "In power politics there are no crimes, because there are no laws." For the aptly named Dick, the American Constitution is a polite fiction, or maybe a rude fiction, a well meaning document that has no relation to reality.

"Eisenhower has much to teach Obama. During his two terms in office, Ike did some things right and more than a few things wrong. Where he most disappointed his admirers, however, was in waiting until the eve of his departure from office before speaking the truth. Here's hoping that Barack Obama won't wait that long."

Andrew Bacevich