FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politics of Evil in the US Elections

I could only shake my head in bewilderment, as I listened to the interviews Rick Warren, a Baptist pastor, conducted with Barack Obama and John McCain, the US presidential candidates for the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.

Most absurd during the two-hour special were the exchanges about “evil”.

When asked how they would deal with evil if they were elected president – would they ignore it, negotiate with it, contain it, or defeat it – Obama said he would “confront it” while McCain said unflinchingly that he would “defeat it”.

After this “civil forum” was broadcast on CNN, the network’s so-called “best team on television” commented on the candidates’ performance.

This only managed to add insult to injury.

One pundit commended McCain’s steadfastness and courage in wanting to defeat, not merely confront, evil if elected president.

For the Republican contender evil is embodied in communism, Islamic fundamentalism and notably Osama Bin Laden, who he promised to hunt down.

Obama was also praised for acknowledging the existence of evil. He thought it present in Darfur but also on the streets of the US as well as in homes where parents abuse their children, and so on.

Evil is the enemy

The last time I checked, there was no legal or strategic interpretation of evil. An open-ended war on evil leads to Armageddon.

It makes absolutely no sense for a future leader of a superpower to speak of dealing with “evil” as commander-in-chief unless this term is used as populist propaganda during election season.

The threat of evil necessitates some sort of definition, otherwise, how can any president evaluate evil and apply the necessary measures to “confront it” or “defeat it”?

Sectarian and tribal wars in Africa and Asia, like religious fundamentalism, are modern phenomena that need to be rationalised first and foremost within our modern world.

In order to be defused or prevented altogether, such conflicts must not be defined or determined by the universal fight between good and evil.

The same applies to street gangs and abusive parents; they require rational explanation and social analyses in order to deter them or best prevent them form carrying out their actions.

In all such cases of violence, there is an urgent need for education, justice, fairness and the rule of law as well as a moral compass, not some religious crusade, to guide us.

But the US media was more than happy to report how the Democratic and Republican candidates were speaking of confronting and defeating evil.

In doing this, US media has pandered to the religious majority in the country.

Religiosity in the US

According to a Pew June 2008 study, 92 per cent of Americans believe in God or a universal spirit, and nearly 80 per cent think miracles occur.

Most Americans believe that angels and demons are active in the world, and one in five Christians speaks or prays in tongues – ecstatic worship or prayer using unintelligible speech.

But while the US has traditionally been religious, it has also been traditionally tolerant.

Since the 1960s, evangelical churches have become politically proactive as faith-based organisations went on to exercise increasing influence over politics in the US and especially within the Republican party.

In recent years, the less strident and more mainstream Christian and evangelical churches like Warren’s Saddleback where the two candidates were interviewed, became more active then the southern right-wing churches represented by the likes of Pat Robertson.

The fact that McCain and Obama’s first joint appearance (not debate) was coordinated and hosted by an influential religious preacher speaks volumes about the influence of organised religion on politics in the US.

Politics in a bubble

Such theological/political journalism is unthinkable anywhere in Europe or in so-called democracies around the world. Calling one’s enemy or their ideology or religion evil is the language normally used by such groups as al-Qaeda, not constitutional democracies.

If religious interviews were done with such fanfare and influence in a Muslim country, democratic or otherwise, western and especially US media would have made mockery of such an imposition of religious fundamentalism on political process.

For most outsiders, the US is in denial over its own “evil doing” around the world. Obama and McCain could see evil in Darfur but would not admit that the invasion and occupation of Iraq on false premises or for oil is no less an evil act.

To his credit, Obama broke out of the delusional discourse of the US as the-city-on-a-hill to underline the need for humility when confronting evil so that the US does not perpetrate its own evils.

But for some people around the world, it may be a bit late for that.

Alas.

MARWAN BISHARA is Al Jazeera’s Senior Political Analyst.

 

 

 

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:
April 19, 2018
Ramzy Baroud
Media Cover-up: Shielding Israel is a Matter of Policy
Vijay Prashad
Undermining Brazilian Democracy: the Curious Saga of Lula
Steve Fraser
Class Dismissed: Class Conflict in Red State America
John W. Whitehead
Crimes of a Monster: Your Tax Dollars at Work
Kenn Orphan
Whistling Past the Graveyard
Karl Grossman TJ Coles
Opening Pandora’s Box: Karl Grossman on Trump and the Weaponization of Space
Colin Todhunter
Behind Theresa May’s ‘Humanitarian Hysterics’: The Ideology of Empire and Conquest
Jesse Jackson
Syrian Strikes is One More step Toward a Lawless Presidency
Michael Welton
Confronting Militarism is Early Twentieth Century Canada: the Woman’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Alycee Lane
On David S. Buckel and Setting Ourselves on Fire
Jennifer Matsui
Our Overlords Reveal Their Top ‘To Do’s: Are YOU Next On Their Kill List?
George Ochenski
Jive Talkin’: On the Campaign Trail With Montana Republicans
Kary Love
Is It Time for A Nice, “Little” Nuclear War?
April 18, 2018
Alan Nasser
Could Student Loans Lead to Debt Prison? The Handwriting on the Wall
Susan Roberts
Uses for the Poor
Alvaro Huerta
I Am Not Your “Wetback”
Jonah Raskin
Napa County, California: the Clash of Oligarchy & Democracy
Robert Hunziker
America’s Dystopian Future
Geoffrey McDonald
“America First!” as Economic War
Jonathan Cook
Robert Fisk’s Douma Report Rips Away Excuses for Air Strike on Syria
Jeff Berg
WW III This Ain’t
Binoy Kampmark
Macron’s Syria Game
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
Katie Fite
Chaos in Urban Canyons – Air Force Efforts to Carve a Civilian Population War Game Range across Southern Idaho
Robby Sherwin
Facebook: This Is Where I Leave You
April 17, 2018
Paul Street
Eight Takeaways on Boss Tweet’s Latest Syrian Missile Spasm
Robert Fisk
The Search for the Truth in Douma
Eric Mann
The Historic 1968 Struggle Against Columbia University
Roy Eidelson
The 1%’s Mind Games: Psychology Gone Bad
John Steppling
The Sleep of Civilization
Patrick Cockburn
Syria Bombing Reveals Weakness of Theresa May
Dave Lindorff
No Indication in the US That the Country is at War Again
W. T. Whitney
Colombia and Cuba:  a Tale of Two Countries
Dean Baker
Why Isn’t the Median Wage for Black Workers Rising?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia’s Top Cop Defends Indefensible Prejudice in Starbucks Arrest Incident
C. L. Cook
Man in the Glass
Kary Love
“The Mob Boss Orders a Hit and a Pardon”
Lawrence Wittner
Which Nations Are the Happiest―and Why
Dr. Hakim
Where on Earth is the Just Economy that Works for All, Including Afghan Children?
April 16, 2018
Dave Lindorff
President Trump’s War Crime is Worse than the One He Accuses Assad of
Ron Jacobs
War is Just F**kin’ Wrong
John Laforge
Nuclear Keeps on Polluting, Long After Shutdown
Norman Solomon
Missile Attack on Syria Is a Salute to “Russiagate” Enthusiasts, Whether They Like It or Not
Uri Avnery
Eyeless in Gaza   
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Then, Syria Now
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail