THOLOS OF ATHENA

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

POST ELECTION BLUES

Well, it’s done. Another election is behind us, and Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice, and especially Karl Rove, are triumphant. On top of the world, you might say.

And my condolences to the rest of the world, by the way. Whoever reads this—wherever you may be out there, please know: we did everything we could to try and prevent this from happening. I earnestly believe we did. Please remember that a large percentage of Americans are with you today, and in the weeks and months, and—I suppose—years to come, in spirit and solidarity, against this rising tide. Some will say that Kerry did not run a strong enough campaign, that perhaps he wasn’t “liberal” enough, or he wasn’t this or that. But, to be honest, I don’t think it would have made any difference. The people that voted for Bush did so with their eyes open. They lined up in droves and voted for him. Their votes represent a full-throated acceptance of all this administration stands for.

Thus, lying to Congress, the UN, the American people, and the world and proceeding with needless preemptive wars, is perfectly acceptable. The people have spoken and they have said “Yes” to these things. They have said “Yes” to the incarceration of hundreds of innocent people without benefit of legal counsel or due process.

They have said “Yes” to the torture of prisoners, the outing of CIA agents, the muzzling and firing of anyone the administration disagrees with.

They have voted and said “Yes” to the goon tactics of Karl Rove.

And to the overthrow of the rule of law, the Bill of Rights, and church-state separation, they have voted with their hearts and minds, and the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

As I write this, thousands of American troops are massing on the outskirts of Fallujah, to be supported with tanks and air strikes. I begin to think our wars are less about what is real than what is unreal. Of course, we know—at least some of us do—that the war in Iraq was never about weapons of mass destruction; but in truth, I don’t think it really ever mattered to the American people whether weapons existed or didn’t exist, just as some years ago, it didn’t matter that there was no Gulf of Tonkin incident. Those items are just what in movie parlance would be called the “mcguffin,” the money, the jewels, the microfilm, whatever happens to be in the box that sets the whole plot in motion. As Hitchcock said, it really doesn’t matter what the mcguffin is. It’s immaterial. And the proof that the mcguffin doesn’t matter in Iraq, just as it didn’t matter in Vietnam, is that the war goes on and people are still dying, while the so-called reason for being there in the first place—the mcguffin—has long since gone up in smoke. And that, sir, is War. Just a big catastrophe, a big nothing, that sucks up human life, that is always looking for an excuse and usually finding it among weak-minded people. And in a country that loves war as much as this one, the mcguffin can be about as flimsy as you wish, and the people will wave their flags and shout themselves into exhaustion.

As for the election, it, too, had its mcguffin. And the mcguffin was fear. Fear of gay people, fear of diversity. Fear that God is so weak in the world that He must be backed up by amendments, mandates and armies. We have seen this before. And we have seen what superstition can do.

At least half the people in this strange country actually believe the earth was created in seven days. A high percentage believe in angels. They believe the fables and proverbs of the Bible are literally true. And they believe there are weapons of mass destruction sitting in Iraq, just as their president told them there was.

And they believe that whatever their country chooses to do or not do is right and righteous. End of story.

So, it is not just Bush and his cohorts that are triumphant here. They are just the symptom, the nuts and bolts of what is broken in my country, for it is really the triumph of lies, the complete unquestioning embrace of superstition and fantasy over reality.

And that, I guess, is why I’m in mourning today. Because it feels like somebody I care about is in dire trouble, maybe losing their mind, or worse. The country that I knew, the country of Jefferson and Ben Franklin and Lincoln, but also of Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman and Martin Luther King, Jr. . . .

It’s like the day my grandmother died. It’s as if I were awakened this morning and told that someone very close to me was killed during the night. Murdered. And now they want me to get dressed and come down and identify the body. Yeah, okay, that’s a little melodramatic, I suppose. Maybe so. And when I get down there, maybe it won’t be her, after all. Maybe she’s just gone missing awhile. Wandering around somewhere, homeless, living out of garbage cans. And if I happen to run into her again, I’ll let you know.

But I just hope I’ll be able to recognize the old girl.

Peace, brothers and sisters.

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