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:

January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail