Political violence in the USA, has it come to this?
Well, there were some acts of political violence during and after the recent Health Care vote and its aftermath. Nothing too serious, some death threats and some bricks thrown at a congressman’s office. There’s always a fringe of this sort of nonsense at both extremes, Bush certainly got death threats in his day. Still, this seems a bit more that normal background fringe stuff, so I am a little concerned. What concerns me is that this is moving more into the mainstream. IE on some level the modern Tea Party movement, the Republican party itself, and the right wing militant movement of the nineties all seem to be interrelated. I am seeing a substantial portion of the population who regards the federal government, especially as personified by the current administration, as evil incarnate. And I don’t mean that in the intellectual sense as the left wing fringe does, I mean that a significant percentage of the Republican party literally believes Obama is the Antichrist.
Yes, according to a recent poll, some 14% of Americans or 25% of Republicans believe that Obama is the Antichrist. That’s tens of millions of people. Who the hell is the Antichrist anyhow? Well, for once wikipedia wasn’t much help. The whole Antichrist idea has been around since, well, biblical times. In general, at least this is how I think the modern understanding of the word goes, the Antichrist is a false saviour who will arrive to lead people astray and away from Jesus in the End Times. The End Times is when Jesus comes back, the virtuous and faithful are saved, and the rest of us are toast. From what polls and information I could find on line, at least as many Americans believe we are living in or near the End Times as believe Obama is the Antichrist. To summarize, tens of millions of Americans believe that president Obama is a mythical figure in the flesh, arisen in our lifetime in accordance with a Bronze Age prophecy.
See, this is why the aliens haven’t contacted us yet, they can’t make sense of this shiznit. I don’t really understand it myself, and hey, I don’t care what people believe as long as they don’t scare the horses. What concerns me is that this belief is becoming associated and intertwined with a powerful mainstream political party. And that concerns me because this particular belief is not terribly amenable to compromise or debate. So this means that not only do these political beliefs become less compromising, they become defensible by any means, since those opposed are by definition evil. This is the same sort of logic that a certain Osama bin Laden used to justify flying planes full of innocent people into buildings. Can’t happen here? Well, it already has. A certain Andrew Joseph Stack flew a plane into an IRS building just this year.
So what does this all mean? Damned if I know, but I don’t think it’s a good thing. I’m kinda thinking that the next decade is not going to be anywhere near as idyllic and prosperous as the past decade. There’s a lot of reasons I think this, but the fact that religious dogma and myth appears to be an increasing influence in modern America isn’t a good sign in my book. Even a modest knowledge of history shows why our founding fathers were so adamant about keeping religion out of politics. Wars are senseless enough as it is, religious wars are Satan’s work.
Still, that’s pretty extreme speculation. In a more secular framework, I am one of many concerned that the Republican’s embrace of violent rhetoric is going to push some over the edge. And it’s just weird and ironic to me that all this vitriol is over health care! No one was threatening revolution when vastly larger sums of money at blood were thrown at foreign wars, or when our grandchildren were mortgaged to keep banker’s bonuses rolling in … but try to spend some money on sick Americans, and some on the right think this is the end of the republic? That’s, um, ridiculous. (And the republic has been dead in the water for decades, but that’s a whole other topic.)
In any event I haven’t been able to find much by way of specific criticism of the latest Health Care bill. I suppose there must be some out there. I do not however consider “it’s turned us into a socialist country” or it’s “the beginning of a police state” in America to be specific criticism. Kind of like non-specific hysteria. The kind a lot on the left claimed during the Bush administration. The older I get the more politics seems like the same ol Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumb. And in some historical periods politics is dumber than others. The coming decade may see some of the dumbest politics in memory if the Health Care debate is any indication.
Have a great weekend everyone!
(The above image of the Antichrist is Public Domain under US copyright law, created by Albrecht Dürer in the sixteenth century. I see little or no resemblance to President Obama, but I’m hardly an expert on these things. And I’m not trying to single out the right as being any less in touch with reality than much of the mainstream left, they just express it differently. Simply put, the signal to noise ratio in American politics seems to be dropping, and we’re heading into a period where it’s all noise.)