Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pure Evil, Incredible Violence

It is Fidel Castro's 80th Birthday. Thanks to the American politics of the post-revolution era, American School children never learned the real stories behind the 1959 overthrow of Batista. Instead, for generations it was enough to label Castro a "Communist Dictator", as if that said everything we needed to know. We were neither a Communist nor a dictatorial society, so painting Cuba as a Communist dictatorship made it obvious -- Cuba bad, US good. This myopia combined with blinders, ironically, opened the way for glorification of Castro and his right-hand in the revolution, Che Guevara.

This unintended consequence of the American tendency to rewrite history, censor open discussion, and prefer easy labels, is unfortunate. College students have, for decades, declared -- and still declare -- their dissent with one of the popular high-contrast drawings rendered from Alberto Korda's famous photo of Che (reprinted above). This is unfortunate because Che and, even more than Fidel, his more aggressive and brutal younger brother, Raul, were extremely brutal and cruel. They were particularly cruel to their own subordinates during the revolution. Che executed, or had executed, underlings for a wide variety of transgressions, from suspicion of passing information to the Batista regime to drunken insults. One example.

In 1958, Che had a devoted lieutenant serving under him -- Armando Rodriquez. Armando was older than Che, but looked to Che as a wise leader and, as important, social philosopher. Armando's son, a 16-year old firebrand named Israel Pardo Rodriquez. Che was moving his forces westward towards Mt. Turquino to meet up with Fidel, when two of his troops has deserted with their weapons. After a fruitless chase of the two, Che learned that the two had previously been involved in marijuana trade with Israel and another of his group. Suspecting that the four had planned to raid a nearby marijuana farm and desert, he ordered Israel and the other to chase after the two deserters, not expecting them to return. After they left, Che learned of a wider desertion plan among his men and suspect Israel and the other three as being the leaders in the plot.

As it happened, Israel returned alone, having been separated from his companion. Che summarily tried and condemned Israel. Che assigned Armando to carry out his orders. Armando begged Che to relieve him of the assignment to execute his own boy, but Che was unmoved and demanded that Armando prove his loyalty. Tears in his eyes, Armando tied his son to a stake, placed a hood over his eyes, and prepared to fire the fatal shot when, at the last moment, Che stopped him. In effect, Che told the shaken man that he was merely testing his loyalty and had already received evidence clearing Israel of any complicity.

This was an extreme and cruel ordeal for the old man and his son. No man who could order such a thing can be even remotely considered a man of peace or love, or even sane. It is pure evil and unspeakably cruel to test a man to the limit in this way and to forever undermine a young son's faith and confidence in the love of his father. Not to mention putting the young man through the psychological ordeal of a faux execution

Over this last week, especially, numerous Bush Administration representatives, apologists and stand-ins have repeated the latest talking points on the war on terror by labeling their enemy as "Islamic fascists", as pure evil. Many have gone so far as to assert that Islam is a religion of violence. On Hardball Friday, one even proudly preferred her own "peaceful" Christian religion to the "violent" religion of Islam. We've heard similar claims from this Administration and their defenders before. Ann Coulter speaks of the godless liberals and proudly proclaims her devotion to the god of the bible. But the god of the bible is an infinitely more evil and murderous entity than even Che and Fidel. While I don't know much about Islamic beliefs, or the Quar'an, I find it hard to believe that it could be any more violent and evil than the bible.

I apologize, dear reader, for the ruse. But the story of Che and Armando and Israel, while using actual historical events, is otherwise false. Che never made any such order to Armando or anyone else. Che was indeed a cruel and harsh leader, but not as cruel and harsh as to demand a father execute his son to prove his loyalty. But, as you've deduced by now, that story is familiar to all of you -- it is the bibical myth of god and Abraham. Armando is Abraham and Israel is his son, Israel, whom god commanded Abraham to sacrifice for no reason other than to demonstrate Abraham's commitment to god.

Such is the face of the god of the bible. It is a god who is incredibly cruel, violent and evil. The bibical god appears to enjoy death, blood, and destruction. According to the bibical mythology, that god killed 70,000 (innocent men) because King David decided to take a census of the Israelites: "So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead." (1 Chronicles 21:14). David, and his family, were spared. But the god of the bible thought it just to kill 70,000 innocent for David's transgression.

The god
of the bible wiped away the residents of 60 cities -- men, women, and children -- so that the Israelites could plunder and take the livestock, possessions, and towns for themselves. He sanctions the killing of all men and non-virgins in a town to provide a stock of virgins to serve as forced breeders for his people and, when that isn't enough, the kidnapping and rape of even more virgins. (Judges 21). This god and Jesus endorse killing children for cursing their parents (Matthew 15), and they apparently enjoy the sounds of babies being bashed on rocks (Isaiah 13:15-18, Hosea 13:16, Psalms 137:9). Revelations glories in the coming blood bath.

By some reckonings, the bibical myths recount god directly killing over 370,000 and ordering the murder of nearly 2 million more. (We haven't even touched on how the bible endorses slavery and the selling of one's own daughters into prostitution.) And christians are labeling Islam as a violent religion?

The Bush Administration has moved the enemy from Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, both having grown stronger and further from our reaches since September 11, to evil doers, to haters of freedom, to Islamic extremists, and, finally, to "Islamic fascists". The formulation of this label for our enemies leads directly to the conclusion that the earliest of the post-9/11 Bush labels, quickly withdrawn, was no slip of the tongue.

You will recall that, shortly before invading Afghanistan, Bush called his war on terrorism a 'Crusade'. Nice touch -- shortly before going to war with an Islamic state, a President who hastens to publicly claim his christianity in word (but not in thought, action, or policy) uses the one term that will remind everyone of one of the most violent wars in history, perpetrated by christians against muslims in the middle east. He quickly withdrew the comment but, in fact, it revealed his true mindset -- when this administration speaks of terrorism, they mean Islam.

By reducing the enemy to the label "Islamic Fascists" they need say nothing more to create the unspoken conclusion -- they are evil, we are good, and therefore our war against them is good. Like the "Communist Dictator", the "Islamic Fascist" label advances the unspoken premise of the conclusion -- they are evil not only because they are fascists, but also because they are not christians.

With this latest turn of a phrase, Bush and Rove and Cheney are giving cover to bigots everywhere who are anxious to parrot Coulter and Pat Robertson and declare all who disagree with them evil:

Q -- Are churches that don‚’t agree with your politics or religious beliefs not really churches?

Coulter -- Correct: They‚’re called ‚“mosques.‚”

Interview with Ann Coulter
Television evangelist Pat Robertson yesterday described Islam as a violent religion bent on world domination . . . . In mid-September, he and fellow evangelist Jerry Falwell sparked controversy by suggesting on the same show that abortionists, feminists, gays and liberal groups were partly responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. . . . Islam, [Robertson] concluded, "is not a peaceful religion that wants to coexist. They want to coexist until they can control, dominate and then if need be destroy."
The Administration's "Islamofacists" labels give cover to Robertson and others to continue with those kinds of hateful attacks. Each time a bushite repeats the lie that the terrorists attack us because we are free and they hate freedom-loving peoples, they give credibility to truly evil people, like Coulter and Robertson -- and at the same time distract attention from their horribly-failed policies and strategies, their lies, and lack of ideas. (Anyone who believes that they hate us for our freedom is either ignorant or a liar; the Bush administration would do well to spend some time learning exactly what Che's revolution was about and how a moderate, middle-class doctor became the icon of 20th Century revolutionary movements.)

When you strive so hard to create that kind of divisive atomosphere, when you legitimize hateful attacks on people who are not-christian, or not-white, or not-whatever-you-are, you also give cover to other expressions of bigotry and hatred -- such as against brown people who risk life and limb for a few dollars more, or against those who oppose the failed policies of the administration.

It is hard to recall when it has been so acceptable, in our so-called tolerant and pluralistic nation, to attack those who disagree, those who dissent, those who are in the minority, those who are different, as it is today. This so-called christian president bears great responsibilty for that. (Cheney image stolen from Jesus' General.)

It is a true threat to our liberty. As despicable events and their hateful statements pile up, I cannot help but suspect that 9/11 became, for this cabal, the perfect excuse to wage this divisive war against America and the liberties -- the freedoms -- that they do, in fact, hate.

2 comments:

yasmin said...

I would Like to Thank you for what you wrote, it makes a nice change.

As a Muslim woman what I am seeing and hearing of late is outrages.
The news that is broadcast by the British and Americans is so far from the truth, the real extent of Arab and Muslim civilian deaths over the last few years is horrifying to say the least.

Our religion is being slandered and referenced by ignorant idiots.
If people would bother to educate themselves about our religion instead of spouting rubbish, we would not be in this position...or maybe we would.

Unfortunately for Bush, I and most of the Arab world see this for what it truly is... A world focused goal (led by Israel) to eradicate us as a nation, as a religion. Human rights laws dont even seem to apply to us.

We are attacked,humiliated and terrorised and yet when we defend ourselves its labelled as terrorism.
There is nothing fair or decent in this world and our crumbling countries are living proof.

A Big Fat Slob said...

Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, these days the application of a short sladerous label is more politically effective than a nuanced exegesis. And this Administration is expert at the short slanderous label.