Let There Be Conflict!


The result of the presidential election has produced a range of reactions from the antiwar crowd, from optimism to despair. Paul Craig Roberts notes hopefully that the Christian right which delivered Bush the election did not vote for preemptive war or American Empire, but merely against homosexual marriage and a woman’s right to choose.

I suppose we can find some comfort in that; the cultural conservative who voted for Bush may react much as his or her pro-choice, homo-friendly compatriot will react to the mounting bloodshed in illegally occupied Iraq. But on the other hand, the administration’s goal of acquiring hegemony over Muslim Southwest Asia, plus traditional American bigotry, plus the specifically anti-Islamic mindset of Christian opinion-makers who really conceptualize the War on Terror as a Crusade against Muslim evil, plus the ignorance underlying religious fundamentalisms everywhere, are an explosive combination.

Anyone who can believe that the world was created in seven days, and that all humanity except for Noah’s family escaped the Deluge 4000 years ago, can easily fit into this web of delusions the belief that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11. Or that Syria or Iran threatens Americans’ security. Conceivably such believers will tolerate tens of thousands more deaths in a prophesized apocalyptic confrontation, energized rather than disillusioned by all the carnage.

Robert Jensen in contrast to Roberts sounds a very pessimistic note, eloquently drawing on the Book of Micah to condemn America, like the Old Testament Prophet condemned “the sin of the House of Israel” in the eighth century BCE. With beautiful irony he employs what the Bush base regards as sacred text to damn the evil, oppressive, warmongering regime. But he leaves the reader with a sense of hopelessness

Libertarian Justin Raimondo, on antiwar.com, proffers reasons for hope in the ongoing investigations of administration duplicity and venality. Citing the example of Richard Nixon, overwhelmingly reelected in 1972 and driven from office in disgrace two years later, he suggests that the Plame Affair, and investigations into administration lies preparatory to the Iraq invasion, might lead Bush-Cheney to a similar end. http://antiwar.com/justin/ I have been thinking and hoping the same thing. That’s a very happy scenario, but I’d prefer a rapid intensification of social conflict like that which occurred in the heroic Sixties, producing a necessary polarization, radicalization, genuine debate, and the disillusionment with institutions that has to precede real change.

Bush and one time quasi-radical, career opportunist John Kerry alike dread the latter scenario. The Massachusetts senator had “a good conversation,” with his war criminal counterpart when conceding the poll. The two “talked about the danger of division in our country and the need, the desperate need, for unity, for finding the common ground, coming together.” Kerry hoped “we can begin the healing.” He repeated this line in his pathetically unprincipled concession speech.

Jesus, Senator! Begin the healing? Of what? The injury to U.S. imperialism caused by the antiwar movement, which so naively rallied around your sorry ass? Let that wound stay open. Let it bleed, as the scriptures, or equally valid texts, say we should. Since we’re all being so damned biblical lately, let me cite Jesus’ statement to his disciples as recorded in Matthew 10:34-36. “Perhaps people think that I have come to cast peace upon the world. They do not know that I have come to cast conflicts upon the earth: fire, sword, war. For there will be five in a house: there’ll be three against two and two against three, father against son and son against father, and they will stand alone.” Like so much in Holy Writ, in any religious tradition, you can do whatever you want with these passages. I quote this simply to suggest that disunity and conflict are by no means a bad thing, whereas unity for its own sake can advance the cause of the vicious. The last thing the country needs as it slides towards fascism is unity around that project.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” says Jesus on the cross (Luke 22:34). The victims of religious fundamentalist indoctrination (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu) throughout the world in their know-nothing ignorance deserve human compassion. (And divine compassion too, in the highly unlikely prospect that such exists.) But they don’t deserve, and aren’t best served, by kiss-ass compromise or capitulation. Let there be logic challenging ignorance, broad-minded tolerance challenging religious bigotry, civil strife challenging hopes for an American harmony that could only further damage and enrage the world (which still wants badly to believe there are decent Americans) by its fruits.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu



More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
What to Do at the End of the World? Interview with Climate Crisis Activist, Kevin Hester
Kevin Proescholdt
Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke Attacks America’s Wilderness
Franklin Lamb
Syrian War Crimes Tribunals Around the Corner
Beth Porter
Clean Energy is Calling. Will Your Phone Company Answer?
George Ochenski
Zinke on the Hot Seat Again and Again
Lance Olsen
Somebody’s Going to Extremes
Robert Koehler
Breaking the Ice
Pepe Escobar
The Myth of a Neo-Imperial China
Graham Peebles
Time for Political Change and Unity in Ethiopia
Terry Simons
10 American Myths “Refutiated”*
Thomas Knapp
Some Questions from the Edge of Immortality
Louis Proyect
The 2018 Socially Relevant Film Festival
David Yearsley
Keaton’s “The General” and the Pernicious Myths of the Heroic South