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As we enter this New Year, we are, like Tantalus, trapped between extremes: unable to reach the fruit that hangs just beyond our reach and unable to quench our thirst by drinking from the water that laps at our chin. Hope hung before us during the election season, hope for any change that might arrest the Cabal that has taken control of our government, gone now into the ephemeral mist of paperless ballots and absent voting booths. And that river of change we thought we floated in, the ever-changing river that would nourish us in the coming years with its clear waters and purifying powers, now only a dream of what might have been. But we are here nonetheless, caught in the flotsam of the past four years that turned this country into a cesspool of lies and deceit, overflowing now with even greater arrogance and vengeance, determined to spread its toxic waste throughout the world.
Today America inaugurates a newly elected President, a ceremony that traditionally celebrates the promise of our Democracy, recognition of the people’s right to consent to be governed by a person they selected and fulfillment of the promise of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. How ironic, then, this immanent inauguration of the Lord of Misrule, this comic fool who struts his hour on the stage, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!
What pray tell is there to celebrate? Why spend forty million dollars to recognize a man whose efforts to date have been to undermine our democracy, not to strengthen the pillars on which it rests; to carve the nation into the haves and the have nots, not to build bridges of support to aid all our citizens; to sever alliances with the nations of the world, not to forge agreements that bind us as one to better conditions for all; to make America a pariah among nations, not loved for its rational policies but feared for its erratic, unpredictable actions that threaten stability in the world; and, perhaps worst of all, to turn America from a nation revered by many because of its compassion for others and its perceived desire to bring the significance of individual rights to all to one that supports oppression and occupation, torture, and disdain for human rights.
What has this administration brought us but disrespect, dishonor and despair?
Disrespect for our democracy as it has become the lackey of corporate powers and religious zealots; dishonor as a people, seen now as manikins manipulated by money and ministers before all the nations of the earth; and despair resulting from our inability as individuals to prevent the wanton slaughter wrought by our weapons of mass destruction on all the helpless in the mid-east? What, then, is this inauguration but a mock-epic fittingly tuned to the roots from which it sprang: a fertility rite conducted by a druid priest ceremoniously inducting Bush into office ensuring that the few will reap a rich harvest from the many who bow obsequiously before his altar.
I’m afraid I do not hear rising above the processional lofty anthems signaling the ascendancy of a worthy man with compassionate ideals to the position of “most powerful man on earth.” I hear instead the marching drums and shrill patter of the fife leading the congregation of believers in “Onward Christian Soldiers” as they assemble for the final battle Christ has promised them if they are to attain everlasting glory. But I hear as well the distant wail of children blinded and burned by our depleted uranium, and those crushed beneath the rubble of our precision bombing, and those caught in the savagery of “green parrots,” tantalizing toys created by our weapons merchants to dismember and maim innocent children, and those caught by chance in the crowds as Israel hurls missiles at men it has judged worthy of death but not worthy of a trial, a decidedly democratic way of celebrating the rite that brings Bush to the presidency of a purportedly Christian nation. “All those who take the sword will perish by the sword,” (Matt. 26: 52) appears to be a forgotten admonition, as forgotten as the words of the Psalmist by the Jews: “O Lord, if I have done this, if there is injustice on my hands, if I have rendered evil to him who was at peace with me, or, without cause, have plundered him who was no enemy, let the enemy pursue and overtake my soul; let him trample my life to the ground and lay my honor in the dust.” (Psalm 7: 3-5).
No, I’m afraid this inauguration is not a celebration for me or for half the nation who voted against this Cabal, whose ruthless and un-Christian actions hurl America backward in time and morality to barbarous days when might made right and life was reserved only for those willing and capable of killing. No, I’m afraid the righteous must do the celebrating even as they attend his coronation as Emperor of Fools. Let them celebrate his morality that proclaims salvation for the yet to be born while he mutilates children in kindergartens with misplaced missiles; decries terrorist acts of wanton slaughter even as he and Sharon, his puppeteer, terrorizes innocent civilians with crippling and deadly missiles hurled into crowded streets and apartment buildings; feigns outrage at suicide bombers but demands his minions torture and kill prisoners, then, shamelessly denies that he is responsible; admonishes the nations of the world for permitting the UN to be ridiculed by rogue nations that defy their resolutions while he supports, nay encourages, Israel to terrorize the indigenous population of the land they have stolen despite having mocked the UN by defying more than 155 Resolutions; brazenly condescends to Israeli demolition of homes, thousands of them, in full violation of human rights and international law; lures the compliant citizenry of the US into a devastating, illegal and immoral invasion of another state by lying to the people, time and time again, compounded by his lying that he had not lied; and, most ironically, ridicules the evangelical Christian community, those most devoted to his cause, by hypocritically declaring that he is a messenger of God, indeed, on a mission from God since he receives messages from Him, when, in fact, he is but a deluded fool responsive to myths believed as reality. Zealots, unfortunately, succumb to imposed literalism as a salve to suppress ignorance, and that in turn allows the most insidious evil to escape scrutiny.
These pseudo-Christians, these end-timers, dominionists, Zionist evangelicals raise their collective hands in swaying unison proclaiming passionately their belief in Jesus, damning disbelievers who threaten their institution of marriage with civil unions and their pro-life commandment with a woman’s right to choose, believing erroneously that Jesus preached these truths. He did not. “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful,” (Luke 6:36) that is what He said; “As you wish that men would do to you, do you to them,” (Luke 6:31) that is what He said; “So also my heavenly Father will do to you if you do not forgive your brother from your heart,” (Matt: 18:35) that is what He said; “Judge not, that you be not judged,” (Matt: 7:1) that is what He said; “This I command to you to love one another,” (John 15: 16-17) that is what He said; “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your father who is in heaven,” (Matt: 5: 43-45) that is what He said; “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:33-35) that is what He said. These are the words of the Christ, not “Kill, Kill!” Where is the NEW Testament in the rants of the ministers of war? Why do they resort to the wrathful, malicious, judgmental G-d of the OLD Testament? Let that G-d judge His chosen people; let Jesus open salvation to all in mercy and forgiveness. Enough of vengeance and retaliation; bring back the sun of Christ’s spirit.
These ministers mock the democracy they claim to support by denying the unalienable rights guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence since they crush freedom of thought under the monolith of prescribed dogma and doctrine; they turn religion into tyranny over the mind, forcing their faithful to negate thought in favor of “belief” in them, regardless of reason’s questioning the literalism of their teachings or the probability that Robertson or Bush talks to God, a convenient ruse that allows them to accept “faith” without question but denies that route to God to those of other faiths; and, most deceptively and insidiously, they convert Christianity into cruelty in the name of the most peaceful man to tread the earth as they raise their collective swords against the infidels in the mid-east. Their religion is a religion of hate, of oppression, of fanatical singleness of belief, of divisiveness, of arrogance, of exclusivity that denies the ideal of the brotherhood and sisterhood of humankind, of mercy and charity, of love and forgiveness, the sun of Christ’s spirit.
Ironically, the neo-cons who wrote the sacred books of this administration the Patriot Act, Powell’s WMD presentation before the UN, the National Security Strategy Report deny the validity of Christianity even as they delight in the blindness of the faithful as a tool to be used to solidify their intent to control the world. These modern, Machiavellian manipulators salivate at the millions who accept on faith that God has chosen Bush to fulfill His mission to bring about the Rapture and usher in the 1000 years of peace. Equally ironic one could argue is the laughable parallel between this inauguration and that held when Cromwell took power in England in the mid 1600s, another time when mis-guided clergy predicted the coming of Armageddon as that state moved toward a theocracy. How many times must Armageddon come before we realize Revelations is a work of metaphors not a history text or the word of God?
The last time a king was crowned believing in his heart that God Himself had anointed him, he found himself in due time brought before the court of the people’s representatives, would you believe on January 20th 1648 in the Great Hall of Westminster, where he was charged with “High Treason” because he had broken his oath of office by seeking “unlimited and tyrannical power, attempted to overthrow the peoples liberties,” and “traitorously and maliciously” made war against the people. Charles I went defiantly to his death insisting that no earthly power could dissemble what God had foreordained. But this was the time of the Levellers, those who, long before our Founding Fathers extolled the idea, held that “all power is originally and essentially in the whole body of the people.” Now this country is faced, somewhat incredibly, with a bunch of men who believe they are the chosen, either by Straussian determinist beliefs as fitting to rule or by God’s recognition of them as of the elect. They come to celebrate the crowning of George W. Bush, the self-proclaimed disciple of the only true Lord, sent on His mission to bring His gift to all humankind, a veritable “divinely anointed Emperor” of the world, a return to days of yore when people accepted what their ministers preached, that God blesses those leaders they, on His behalf, anoint, and negate, thereby, the unalienable rights that reside in the body politic, each and every citizen of this nation.
How quaint, indeed, that this bastion of the 21st century should resort to concepts long dead as the means to effect the dreams of the Cabal that has stolen the American Dream, the belief that the people rule the country, substituting in its place rule by fear that they, like ancient conquerors of old, might impose their imperialistic designs on powerless nations in order to ensure their ultimate control. How fitting, then, that we witness this cabalistic inauguration orchestrated by our own Cabal, not dissimilar to that which surrounded Charles II, progeny of the doomed King Charles I (another irony I might add), an inauguration filled with intrigue and ritual, a mock rite sanctified by self-proclaimed interpreters of God’s word.
William Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California. His new book, Psalms for the 21st Century, was published by Mellen Press. He can be reached at: cookb@ULV.EDU