Sad as it is to hear Bush remark that God has chosen him to carry out these crusades
to destroy vile terrorists from creating utter anarchy in
this world, its even more pathetic to believe that some actualy believe that God has
chosen him, and that the man truly will bring liberty and
freedom to the Iraqi people.
To me freedom constitutes the active part of self-determination in every aspect of society, esp law making.
To Bush freedom is a word void of any philosophical regard.
This was an article some students read in my Political Philosophy class, very interesting and know that some members will esp enjoy the british
Are Americans a Chosen People?
Andreas Whittam Smith recently penned an interesting analysis for the British newspaper Independent entitled, "Which British Politician Would Quote
Smith mentions the relative "timidity of the average Brit in talking about religion," a reflection of the fact that most thoughtful Europeans have
come to see one's relationship with God as an entirely personal affair. It is certainly not to be imposed on others as personal guidance or political
philosophy, in keeping with the simple request Jefferson made to the citizens of all democracies.
Smith argues that the newly-emergent American "religiosity," brought into the Oval Office by the Bush administration, "suggests that in a way
Americans consider themselves a chosen people. The British had the same delusion in the 19th century." In other words, the richest, most powerful
frog in the western pond has always perceived itself in charge of the entire pond, this pond-wide authority coming with the full blessings of the God
of All Frogs, one can be sure.
Being among the chosen is an easy rationalization for well-healed Americans because, after all, they believe their God's favor has made America into
the richest and most powerful nation on earth, the world's only remaining "superpower." By assigning American wealth and power to the actions of
God, many Americans find it easy to ignore the possibility that American wealth and power might be the result of having unleashed an army of
aggressive businessmen to capitalize upon the world
and its resources for at least half a century.
Many Americans are able to see themselves as chosen people because America is number one in a wide range of areas. We are "number one in our use of
the world's resources, number one in the production of pollution, number one in the gap between the rich and the poor, number one in deaths by
gunfire, number one in teen pregnancy, number one in poverty among the elderly, number one in citizens without health coverage, number one in child
poverty, number one in homeless veterans, and number one in citizens behind bars."
We are truly on a self-indulgent roll here, folks, and we can all be likewise proud that America is the world's number one debtor nation. To
paraphrase Dr. Robert Bowman, we are number one in the creation of new billionaires, number one in school dropouts, number one in poverty,
homelessness, hunger, divorce, suicide, and number one in military force, nuclear weapons, and military spending -almost as much as all the other
nations in the world combined. As a result, we are also the number one object of fear and hatred and, therefore, the number one target of terrorism in
the world. "We also lead the world in the number of hours worked per family, since it now takes two wage-earners and three jobs to provide the income
earned with one 40 hour per week job in the 1950s." [click for source]
This unique cultural approach to "oneness" does beg a question. Are Americans number one in so many areas because Americans have been chosen by God,
or are Americans chosen by God because they are number one in so many areas? Which comes first, being chosen by God or becoming number one by whatever
In the first case, God is actively pro-American, guiding Smith's "invisible hand" and absolving Americans from all sin. In the second case, God is
passive, leaving the dirty work entirely up to His children in their quest for His favor. In both cases, this connection to deity is entirely
self-assumed and self-righteous to the extent that there is no need to consider the views from outside this exclusionary religious world.
Now, of course, the American people have never claimed to be chosen. It is more that we have recently become tolerant of leadership behaving as if
that were the case. We are reborn on the assumptions of our newfound religiosity and our newfound relationships to Bush's active, protecting God. As
pointed out by William Saletan, the problem comes down to two mutually exclusive views of God.
Following the 9-11 attacks and the World Trade Center tragedy, Bush prayed that the victims "will be comforted by a power greater than any of us,"
alluding to a passive God welcoming his children home. But in approaching his war on terrorism, Bush has invoked an active Judeo-Roman God who would
"watch over the United States," a God out to protect his favorite children on earth. Saletan correctly observes that this absolutist, infallible
version of an American War God has two dangerous implications. One implication of an old-fashioned, active God, is that those who would fight in
service to God and country are not really taking risks or portraying courage because their fate is already sealed and in God's all-powerful hands.
This, of course, is an utter denigration of human knowledge, choice and courage, and it does provide a powerful argument for being satisfied with a
passive, personal God, as Jefferson intended.
The other implication, of an active God, is that the human tragedy of the war with Iraq is God's will. This, of course, is an utter denial of
personal responsibility by those advocating and waging war war. It is also, unfortunately, in the tradition of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who
suggested that the World Trade Center tragedy happened because an active God had removed his divine protection from an immoral United States.
This is precisely the kind of "religiosity" which the Bush administration hauled into the Oval Office and it does provide the supernatural
assumptions upon which Americans might see themselves as chosen people destined not to civilize but to pacify the world. It also provides the
assumptions which allow the American people to abide self-righteous, belligerent leadership in their names.
Until the American people can see their way around this neo-imperial example of religion at its worst, until the people can be content with a passive
God who has already given them everything they need to choose peace in the world, it is clear that Bush's Falwellian God will rule the day. The
result, of course, is a national belligerence that is seldom, if ever, seen on the streets and byways of America. No wonder our European allies have
trouble seeing the world through the eyes of Bush's God, a God more akin to bin Laden's self-defined active God.
Americans would better understand the European position if they knew even a smattering of where their Deist Fathers were coming from and what they
were hoping to accomplish with their clarion calls against absolutism, religious oppression and external authority. If Americans were familiar with
their own roots, they would know that rejecting the old holier-than-thou Judeo-Roman mindset with its active God is part and parcel of the road to
wellness, part and parcel of the road to Jeffersonian Democracy, part and parcel of the road to freedom.
It gets even better than that. Rejection of vengeance-based, absolutist religion is, and has been from the beginning, part and parcel of the road to
nascent Christianity with its basis in compassion and forgiveness, an ethical morality, which, Jefferson felt, had not yet been implemented on earth,
largely for religion's lack of trying. In Jefferson's view, "Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever He had a chosen