FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

"Your Rich Men Are Full of Violence"

After hearing both John Kerry and George W. Bush end their concession and victory speeches with the ubiquitous “God bless America,” I decided to conclude all my future political talks with the call “God condemn America,” and quote the Bible in support.

Many in the anti-war and anti-empire movement tend toward the pacifist language of the gospels when they invoke religion, but I’ve always been a fan of the so-called “minor prophets” of the Old Testament, such as Micah. Probably the best-known verse from Micah is: “And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8).

It’s a beautiful passage, a reminder — even for non-believers — that a decent path through life can be expressed simply: justice, kindness, humility.

But Micah doesn’t stop at articulating the ideal; he speaks of the failure of those in power to live up to the ideal. He names the wickedness in the land: “Your rich men are full of violence; your inhabitants speak lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth” (6:12). Micah’s language is harsh: “The godly man has perished from the earth, and there is none upright among men; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts his brother with a net” (7:2).

Despite the professions of Christian faith from Bush and his gang, that all sounds a lot like this administration: willing to use violence — and obscene levels of violence, including violence against innocents — to extend and deepen U.S. power, and willing to lie to manipulate public opinion to build support for illegal wars.

I like reading the prophets, not just for their passion but as a reminder that there are many moments in history when leaders — whether they are the kings of ancient Israel or the presidents of the United States — will have amassed such concentrated power that no challenge in the short term is possible. There are moments when those leaders will have bought off or deceived the majority of people so that they rule with popular support. Bush won a second term with a 3 1/2 million-vote margin. Many of the people who voted for him believe, or want to believe, that the United States is God’s instrument on this earth.

They should read Micah more closely. Perhaps we can turn back from our assault on the rest of the world, and our disregard for the cascading ecological collapse, before it’s too late, before “the earth will be desolate because of its inhabitants, for the fruit of their doings” (7:13). One day, perhaps, we will reach the point Micah promises: “The nations shall see and be ashamed of their might” (7:16).

To reach that, Micah reminds us of the need for commitment over the long haul: “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me” (7:8).

We sit in darkness; there is no point in pretending otherwise. The imperial project of the United States is rotted to the core, a fact neither candidate nor party seems able or willing to acknowledge. Bush’s election is disturbing mostly because it reveals just how many fellow citizens share in that wicked project.

So, God condemn America, please, so that the world might live.

ROBERT JENSEN is a journalism professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of “Citizens of the Empire: The Struggle to Claim Our Humanity” from City Lights Books. He can be reached at rjensen@uts.cc.utexas.edu.

 

More articles by:

Robert Jensen is a professor in the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and the author of The End of Patriarchy: Radical Feminism for Men. He can be reached atrjensen@austin.utexas.edu or online at http://robertwjensen.org/.

September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savoir
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
Jeff Ballinger
Nike and Colin Kaepernick: Fronting the Bigots’ Team
David Rosen
Why Stop at Roe? How “Settled Law” Can be Overturned
Gary Olson
Pope Francis and the Battle Over Cultural Terrain
Nick Pemberton
Donald The Victim: A Product of Post-9/11 America
Ramzy Baroud
The Veiled Danger of the ‘Dead’ Oslo Accords
Kevin Martin
U.S. Support for the Bombing of Yemen to Continue
Robert Fisk
A Murder in Aleppo
Robert Hunziker
The Elite World Order in Jitters
Ben Dangl
After 9/11: The Staggering Economic and Human Cost of the War on Terror
Charles Pierson
Invade The Hague! Bolton vs. the ICC
Robert Fantina
Trump and Palestine
Daniel Warner
Hubris on and Off the Court
John Kendall Hawkins
Boning Up on Eternal Recurrence, Kubrick-style: “2001,” Revisited
Haydar Khan
Set Theory of the Left
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail