It has been a busy time for the forces of democracy, as represented by the United States of America and the hired Iraqi police force. The fighting is raging in the city of Najaf and people are getting killed. Every so often, on the television news, the graphics come up with the body count: two American soldiers killed, 20 Americans soldiers wounded; an estimated 300 Shia insurgents killed.
Not a bad outcome for the forces of good. But it occurs to me that something is missing. Either that, or the Iraqi policemen fighting with the Americans must have had a miraculous time of it, coming through the battle with nary a casualty.
That, of course, is extremely unlikely.
So why aren’t these soldiers for democracy in the body count? Does their sacrifice not count? Do they not bleed as Americans do? Are their bodies not shattered by grenades as American bodies are? Do they not leave grieving mothers, wives and children as American “heroes” do?
Or is the omission of Iraqi casualties in the cause of democracy simply a sign of the racism and religious bigotry that underlies the American approach to the war in Iraq, bigotry fuelled by the fundamentalist Christian movement in its attempts to present this war in Iraq, not only as a struggle for democracy but also, and more importantly, a re-incarnation of the Christian crusades of long ago — the Christians against the Muslims.
But the world is different now. If we are to exist on this planet, we must co-exist. Our environmental problems are global in context. The scourge of AIDS in Africa threatens the whole world. The potential disasters instigated by climate change are already having their effect on the people of the world.
We cannot any longer afford the “luxury” of religious bigotry as a hiding place from ecological reality.
In the United States of America, fundamentalist churches have entered the election campaign in a concerted way, making a vote for George W. Bush a testament of the true faith. Bush, you may recall, has pronounced publicly that “God is on our side.”
His opponent for the presidency, John Kerry, turns the equation around, hoping that, “We are on God’s side.”
It’s an approach with a tad more humility, contrasting with the certainty of Bush that he was personally chosen by the Almighty to prosecute this Iraqi war in the name of God’s gift of democracy as His preferred way to arrange the social order.
David Kirkpatrick, writing in the New York Times, says that fundamentalist ministers describe their efforts to get out the vote for Bush as, “fulfilling biblical obligations.”
Kirkpatrick quotes one fundamentalist layperson: “We have got this figured out. These are the bad guys, we are the good guys.”
Needless to say, the Bush campaign is doing whatever it can to encourage this mixing of religion and politics, for if George W. Bush is perceived by himself and others as God’s messenger on earth, where does that leave the two Johns?
In the arms of Satan, that’s where!
Said the Reverend Gerald Davidson to his 5000 member congregation, according to journalist Kirkpatrick: “Don’t let your labour union, don’t let your teacher’s group and all the other groups tell you how to vote — you vote the way the word of God tells you to vote.”
There is no doubt who the Rev. has in mind.
Never mind that the government of God’s supposed messenger is making an absolute mess of things at home and abroad — that the war goes badly, with no end in sight; that his democratically-appointed dictator for Iraq is now a fugitive from Iraqi law; that the projected American budget deficit is astronomical and the economy of the country in shreds; that the gap between rich and poor in the world’s richest country is widening every day, while the rich pay less and less in taxes for the privilege of being rich.
Never mind that God’s supposed messenger, with deliberate intent, lied to the people of his nation to take them into the horrifying maze of a religious war to which he can now find no end.
And never mind that the same anointed gent squints into the camera, hunches his shoulders and lies through his teeth: “The economy is strong,” he says, “and it’s growing stronger.”
In the elevated language of one economist: “The weak job market continues to put downward pressure on wage growth.”
Translation: There ain’t no jobs for millions of Americans and their well-paying jobs in manufacturing and high tech industries are moving offshore as fast as the multinationals can take them. Meantime, the government of the democratic United States of America is borrowing money from the communist People’s Republic of China, and the middle-aged are the emerging new class of personal bankruptcies, now at an all-time high.
God’s chosen one has no plan, apparently, to lead his people through, around or under these stormy seas.
Pray to God somebody notices, before November 2.