The Anti-Christ and I
By Steve Weissman
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Wednesday 08 June 2005
Satan rules, at least according to many of my fellow Americans. In recent surveys, over two-thirds of those polled said they believed the devil to be real, whether with or without horns and a tail.
Call him Lucifer, Mephistopheles, or the Evil One, his existence plays a major role in the way Americans see the world. Right-wingers, in particular, have found him extremely useful in attacking their political foes.
Racial segregationists, union-busters, and John Birchers historically pursued their own agendas by attacking opponents as devilish collaborators of “Godless communism.” Far-right evangelicals still blast the United Nations as a Satanic force run by his End Time agent the anti-Christ, while Christian Reconstructionists tar-brush every intellectual current from humanism to modern science as the work of a diabolical hand. The Enlightenment was, after all, the devil’s assault on faith.
Satan sells in the USA. That’s why Ronald Reagan battled “the Evil Empire,” and how George W. Bush uses “the Axis of Evil.”
All of which boggles my mind. I don’t know why, but even in my high school years I never believed in anything supernatural, good or bad, and I’ve long agreed with historians who view America’s unending urge to hunt witches and other fiendish conspirators as a self-destructive defect in our national character. I don’t even see the present occupant of the White House and his incubi as some singularly evil force, which often puts me at odds with others on my side of the political divide.
Still, let me suggest a leap of faith – not one that I can personally take, but one that many of my religious readers say they have already taken.
What if rational thought misses the cosmic plot? What if our prayerful president, his oil-soaked pre-emptive wars, and his amen chorus of religious reactionaries have come together to do the devil’s work? What if Satan – and not just the demonic Dick Cheney – now drives the global train wreck?
For many believers, the evidence seems overwhelming.
A huge number of Americans call themselves born-again or Reconstructionist Christians but have turned their back on most of what their own Bible tells them that Christ taught. “Turn the other cheek” now inspires a worldwide gulag of CIA and Pentagon torture centers from Guantánamo to the Indian Ocean, while the Golden Rule has become “Do unto others before they do unto you.”
Our Constitution tells us to keep God and government separate, but a new Supreme Court will likely overrule what the words plainly say and permit increasing application of “Biblical law.” What better way to fuel ungodly religious strife?
The deficit and trade gap keep growing. The economy won’t grow fast enough. High rollers and holy rollers buy and sell government favors. The dollar drops. And hard-nosed economists now predict a worldwide crash made worse by American leadership that the rest of the world does not trust.
Despite years of disingenuous denial by Mr. Bush, Rush Limbaugh, and self-interested corporate leaders, global warming grows dramatically worse. The threat has become so severe that serious environmentalists wonder aloud whether nuclear power – even with all its unsolved problems – might prove less hellacious than burning more fossil fuel.
We face a small number of radical Islamic terrorists, whom American troops are systematically turning into heroes for hundreds of millions of Muslims, from the Southern Philippines to Africa.
The Pentagon failed to capture Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan because Mr. Bush could not wait to start his war in Iraq, which he has now turned into a breeding ground for far more terrorists than there ever were before.
Beyond the terrorists, Bush is losing in Iraq because nationalistic Iraqis increasingly see Americans as foreign occupiers, yet he digs us in even deeper and refuses to consider getting out. Possibly worse, he is setting us up for more of the same in Uzbekistan and across Central Asia.
Scattered reports suggest that he currently has small groups of American troops operating covertly within Iran, along with Iranian collaborators, and that he and his advisors are now considering whether to bomb the country’s nuclear facilities or support an Israeli attack.
Pleased with what he sees, the president plunges ahead, turning what could have been a significant but manageable policing problem after 9/11 into a disastrous clash of civilizations. Welcome to the worst of times, as an increasingly disrupted “Christian nation” takes on a rapidly embittered Muslim world.
Cui bono? Who but the Evil One stands to gain? Who but Ha-Shatan could be the voice Mr. Bush hears in his head as the sage advice of his “higher father?”
Believe me, I would never pose such an other-worldly set of questions. But, many serious Christians tell me they have, and their answer scares even an unsaved wretch like me.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he writes for t r u t h o u t.
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