Sunday, November 27, 2005

Journalists and Jehovah

Tomorrow's issue of The New Yorker will win a new round of headlines for Seymour Hersh, but if American journalism runs true to form, it'll focus on two things -- military strategy in Iraq, and Bush's detachment from execution of policy -- and stay well clear of a third.

Hersh's piece -- as summarized in the magazine's PR e-mail notice -- includes quotes from several Pentagon sources, and concludes that Bush is, in fact, looking at pulling out ground troops from Iraq. There is, however, a disturbing trend that Hersh outlines regarding the air war. The details will, I'm sure, be all over the place Monday.

But I suspect we won't see much of the corporate media focus on another aspect of Hersh's piece -- that Bush's obstinance on Iraq has its roots in his religious certitude. Here's a taste of it from that PR e-mail:

Hersh speaks with several senior officials who confirm that President Bush “remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq.” One senior official, who served in President Bush’s first term, tells Hersh that, after September 11th, he was told that the President felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror, and a former defense official says that the President has grown detached, leaving more to Karl Rove and Vice-President Dick Cheney. “They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,” he says.
That gray world is safe for Bush for several reasons. The one that concerns me most right now, however, is that the media have declared it a DMZ. The media are simply too ill-informed, too cowardly and too simplistic to address basic issues of how politicians' religious beliefs shape their political beliefs and guide their actions.

It's insane that any politician vying for federal office, or even statewide office, doesn't as a matter of course, end up addressing questions about what supernatural forces they believe in, what system they believe guides those supernatural forces, how those supernatural forces affect their own actions, etc., etc.

Part of the problem, I think, is condescension. Much of the northeastern-based, well-educated media can't imagine that most Americans (and most American politicians) actually believe in a "personal" god that has sentience and intentionality. So they feel dumb or patronizing or just plain weird asking about it.

Which is too bad. Because people are dying as a result.


sillyputty said...

Hmm. That's interesting. My feeling is that if God puts you someplace to do a specific thing, then He certainly doesn't need you to lie, steal, endanger the lives of others, etc, to to your duty.

If the mandatory ethics training workshops are any indication of what the Bush regime is all about, then it is clear that Bush got his signals crossed and listened to the GOP deity and not the one of Scripture.


BigMitch said...

I'm soooo confused. If God wants democracy in Iraq, why can't he just, you know, snap his metaphorical, metaphysical fingers, and -- poof--Thomas Jefferson is in Bagdad? We are, after all, talking about the God who called the entire universe into being by saying, "Let there be light."


... and tell 'em Big Mitch sent ya!

guerrillaScholar said...

I think condescention by the intellectual elite is only part of the problem. The other part is that, when it comes to what I like to call "religious literacy" the intellectual crowd is as ignorant as dirt.

This does not do the intelligensia credit (I count myself among them, BTW). We all have the right, nay, the obligation to question and critique any belief or ideology be it economic, political, historical, sociological, or theological if it will influence how our country is run. The ugly truth is that most intellectuals don't know squat about religion and spirituality and thus don't have to tools to make trenchant criticisms of religious influences in our society.

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