December 01 2004
An abyss of icy silence divides those who care from those who don't
In my dream I am looking out over the edge of a vast cliff, searching the infinite distance for a word. How to describe the great divide between these two warring factions of the American psyche?
In the distance I seem to see two people standing back to back, staring off in different directions. Their teeth are clenched hard. Both are certain of their vision.
One, wrapped righteously in his beloved flag, figments fearscapes of terror, exploding skyscrapers, dead relatives ... and in his anger, seethes for the chance to lash out, like some vampire vigilante, at those he has been told did — or might do — these demon deeds.
The other, wracked by an inner pain of fruitless frustration, hears the screams, too, but they are the agonized death spasms of those who are the targets of America’s retributive rage. He mourns for those who were nowhere near the scene of the crime, yet simply because of their language and their appearance, they have been deemed guilty and consequently are blown to pieces — bloody fragments of little children in the dust — by high-tech weapons that we all paid for.
This willing blindness that enables America to commit serial mass murder with no second thoughts is not entirely caused by media spin, although that plays a significant part. But there really are two different kinds of American people. And right now there is no communication between them.
Those who see and those who won’t? Those who care and those who don’t?
No, that’s too simplistic.
Those who oppose America’s grandiose slaughter in Iraq are called naive by those who support it. After all, there are acts of terror to be avenged, fair trials be damned!
Those who applaud the widespread killing by Americans in Third World countries are called heartless maniacs by those who oppose it, and try desperately to make their brothers see the slick men on TV are lying to everyone about practically everything.
Two men, back to back, countrymen yet enemies. Two factions, paralyzed by an enraged silence. One, bloodthirsty and implacable. The other, witnessing, perhaps, the end of civilization as we know it.
Those who think the world is a bank to be robbed, and those who think it is a garden to be tended? Those who are in on the scam and those who are victims of the heist?
Again, tending toward too simple. More and more, the weight that tilts the see-saw tends to be the media.
People make their decisions based on what they hear. What they hear tends to be from TV, or from those who still read, newspapers. More and more, TV and newspapers are owned by large corporations who are connected, by boards of directors of even larger corporations, to the companies who make the weapons.
Those who believe America is right to exterminate an entire nation tend to get their information from television, which reinforces their choice by showing nothing of the suffering of foreign peoples, ordinary families who speak other languages, being burned to death by napalm, or ravaged by flesh-piercing cluster bombs, heads blown apart like pumpkins by special ammunition designed to do just that, all the while, American boys, laughing at their high scores, in the time before they realize they will kill themselves for what they’ve done, if they don’t first perish from the poisons their government told them it was safe to handle ... facing one way.
And those who believe the American government is a criminal corporation that fixes its own elections, kills its own citizens, and has plans for billions of unfortunate souls that are simply too demonically tragic for most to even contemplate, screaming into the icy silence of the cadaverous heart the American political conscience has become .... facing the other way.
Those who believe, against all logic, that innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq were somehow a threat to the United States and should be killed with inhuman impunity, and those people educated in excess of the standard American public school brainwashing who realize that people are the same everywhere, and that the worth of a person is not dependent on the language they speak, the color of their skin, what they wear, or what religion they prefer.
Fact is, on a daily basis, Americans are killing innocent people who never did anything bad to us, and some people think that’s a good thing, while others, including most of the rest of the world, consider it an unforgivable abomination, a needless display of public insanity that has suddenly and regrettably befallen all of America.
How does one conduct a dialogue between two groups so certain of their observations?
Why this polarization is significant is that there seems to be no basis for communication between the two factions. And that’s a very bad sign.
Because when there is no talk, there is only war. And when there is war, as the people of Afghanistan and Iraq know so well, nobody wins, really.
Or, the only winners are those who are not involved in the fighting. Perverted billionaires who control the media and military contractors may be wringing their sweaty hands in a kind of pederastic glee, but everybody who’s actually in the war, whether they are on the winning side or not, they’re all losers. Big time.
Just ask the bereaved fiancee who just wrote me about her true love’s untimely death while attacking Fallujah, who begged me to support the U.S. war effort. I had to tell her, hard as it was, that her future husband died for nothing, nothing more than the ill-gotten gains of Halliburton and Bush’s other criminal friends.
I asked her to imagine her own town being attacked by high-tech savages who were lying about the reasons they were there, but she just couldn’t, understandably enough, buried in the rubble of own grief.
In the same vein, much has been made about the religious pretensions of President Bush as he orders the mass murders of innocent people for reasons that have been long revealed to the public to be blatant lies.
So the character of the great divide in the American psyche becomes a little clearer. And oddly, the religious perspective is now identified with the side of evil. What justification could there be for killing innocent people for reasons everyone knows are lies. Yet George W. Bush says God told him to smite Afghanistan, and then Iraq.
The philosopher A. C. Grayling of the University of London noted exactly that a few weeks back.
“Why are the churches given a privileged – almost, indeed, an exclusive – position in the social debate about morality, when they are arguably the least competent organisations to have it?” he asked.
“ ... religious morality is not merely irrelevant, it is anti-moral” Grayling argued.
“The great moral questions of the present age are those about human rights, war, poverty, the vast disparities between rich and poor, the fact that somewhere in the third world a child dies every two and a half seconds because of starvation or remediable disease. The churches' obsessions over pre-marital sex and whether divorced couples can remarry in church appears contemptible in the light of this mountain of human suffering and need. By distracting attention from what really counts, and focusing it on the minor and anyway futile attempt to get people to have sex only when the church permits, harm is done to the cause of good in the world.”
“Asking them to take an especially authoritative line on moral matters is like asking the fox to set the rules for fox-hunting. Churchmen are people with avowedly ancient supernatural beliefs who rely on moral casuistry which is two thousand years out of date; it is extraordinary that their views should be given any precedence over those that could be drawn from the richness of thoughtful, educated, open-minded opinion otherwise available in society.”
Could anything be clearer? Could there be any clearer advertisement for religion than George W. Bush, who goes to war on the basis of lies, commits genocide, kills his own citizens, fixes elections, and lies about everything .... and says he takes orders from Jesus? Could it be any clearer?
This impenetrable divide that separates Americans who say they are religious and yet violate every known teaching of Jesus by cheering the mass murder of innocent people from those who see the higher law of human compassion and honesty being violated on a daily basis by the pious psychopaths who have hijacked the American republic may not be crossed, except by bullets.
The words necessary to close the gap and heal this grisly wound that threatens the very life of America are lost — drowned out — by the constant war chants of the corporate TV fools and the echoing, approving chorus from the pulpits of most of the Christian churches and Jewish temples in America. You can’t talk sense to psychopaths and that it what religions have become — a pathetic psychopathy that causes otherwise rational humans to suspend their belief in honesty and justice and believe things that are not true ....
Number one, like Muslims had anything to do with 9/11. That’s the biggest lie of all right now, and it has caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, all unnecessary. Those who are cheering these deaths are American churchgoers. And their cheers, their hosannahs to mass death, can be heard all over the world, in the stories of the bloodbath in Iraq.
Listen, right now, in the silence of the canyon of your heart — you can hear it. America’s righteous religion. God tells George W. Bush what to do. Kill all those who oppose you. Take what you want from those who have what you want. Hey, it’s in the Bible, which is also the Torah. Leviticus. Deuteronomy. All over the place.
Listen to the sound. The American sound of mass death. It is evil, and it is religious. In the silence of the canyon of your heart, it is all you can hear, and no words can blot it out.