Nation embraces the deceit
Corrupt, dishonest people in power have always been a threat to liberty. Corralling them is in part what constitutions are for. But it's our miserable luck to have had two of our worst presidents in a row, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and a p...
Corrupt, dishonest people in power have always been a threat to liberty. Corralling them is in part what constitutions are for. But it's our miserable luck to have had two of our worst presidents in a row, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, and a public that appears to prefer corruption to limited, constitutional government.
I won't re-argue here that we were lied into the Iraq war, though the evidence is clear enough for those with eyes to see.
Instead, suppose Bush's defenders are right, that he was not lying but mistaken. A mistake means we should have made amends to Iraq, packed our bags, and left. Alas, this course would assume we aren't an aggressive empire and that "patriotic" Americans still cared for their country.
I have long sympathized with the pickups-and-guns crowd and country music folk. "A country boy will survive" mentality has always struck me as a healthy attitude toward overweening government.
What an unhappy surprise it's been to find that these people were not only the first to be fooled and manipulated by President Bush, but they also tend to be among the most fanatically devoted to our immoral war.
Evidence of Bush's deceit has had little effect. How can they have been taken in so easily?
What of Christians? Christianity has been western civilization's bedrock and still is in America.
Given centuries of government persecution and dominion over various Christian sects, they should be the last groups to want government power to grow needlessly. Such power always grows during crises. How is it, then, that so many Christians willfully support our war with Iraq?
If Bush lied or was mistaken, then the Iraq war is a mistake. To kill when we know we're in the wrong is to intentionally shed innocent blood, no matter how many post hoc rationalizations we come up with.
Those Christians who support such a war not only have some of that innocent blood on their hands but mock the equality of God's children. It's the peak of hypocrisy to sing of the Bible's values while supporting a war widely acknowledged as fought under mistaken premises.
Spare us pious nonsense about America being God's cleansing sword toward other nations: we were never given such a portfolio, and our un-Christian interventions over the years have caused more human suffering, not less.
Christ's warning to those who plead their faith but don't do God's will is: "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
The conservative movement, never a monolith, got its start from the excesses of Franklin Roosevelt's policies. It's hard to imagine now, but a main tenet of conservatism was its anti-war zeal.
This zeal is of a piece with conservatism's concern over government size and power and goes all the way back to George Washington's advocacy of neutrality.
But on war many conservatives have lost their minds, or their principles. WDAY radio's Jack Sunday recently pointed out anti-war statements that stalwarts such as Trent Lott, Sean Hannity, and Tom Delay made when President Clinton went to war with Serbia. That their position is now neatly reversed shows that it's who's in office, not principle, that informs their conservatism.
Those whose calling is to be watchdogs over government abuses and excesses are now witless lap poodles for the president, who isn't even conservative himself.
Liberals shouldn't be too smug either. They yapped for war with Serbia when Clinton was president and indeed have led the charge in just about every major war we've seen the past 100 years.
Disillusionment, thy name is American public.
Nelson is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum's commentary pages. He can be reached at email@example.com