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Thursday, December 16, 2004

 

revolution within the form


a recent example of absolutist secularism run wild gave me reason to pause and reflect on the words of that original american imperialist, theodore roosevelt.

"a true christian is a true citizen" -- i agree, though certainly not to the exclusion of true followers of judaism or islam or buddhism. (nor did teddy, i suspect.)

unfortunately, there aren't very many true christians out there in america anymore. they've been usurped, it seems, by arrogant neojacobins who have little understanding about anything except that which they cannot tolerate. such views are decidedly NOT christian -- it's reductive and uncompromising mystic-militant cultism. one has only to read the sermon on the mount -- the stunningly beautiful core statement of what it means to be christian -- to understand how provocatively antichristian the so-called religious right is.

if conserving christian ethics is what it means to be a western conservative, then these people aren't "conservative" in any sense; indeed, these new cultists are advocating shattering our society into pieces and utterly destroying the parts they dislike in a fit of irresponsible and intolerant self-gratification.

much like "democracy" and "freedom", "christian" as a word has experienced a revolution within the form in america. it not only doesn't mean what it did just a century ago, much less two thousand years past -- it means nearly the opposite of what it did then. and it has come to mean this by the insidious social corrosion brought on by narcissistic individualism.

the reconfiguration of words is one of the great victories of the mass politics of propaganda that continues to be practiced eighty years after d'annunzio's march on ronchi. we're seeing it again and again, and brazenly, in the bush administration, as we did clinton's and earlier on a lesser scale.

euphemism is another essential. "unlawful combatants", "stress positions", "pre-emptive strike", "collateral damage".

what do these things mean? "subhuman", "torture", "unprovoked attack", "indiscriminate killing".

acknowledging this ongoing redefinition is essential to understanding how not only our government but our society has profoundly changed while we profess to revere an increasingly meaningless document and the principles it was meant to articulate.


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