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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Maybe they are Just Waiting for an Excuse...

Maybe they are Just Waiting for an Excuse...
Image © Austin Cline
Original Poster: National Archives
Click for full-sized Image

Has the General gotten a night job with Family Security Matters? I'd swear that the Philip Atkinson piece that everyone is talking about was written by the General. Sadly, that doesn't appear to be the case. Is there still a place in the world for people like the General when we have people like Philip Atkinson? I'm not sure that a Republican Party or conservative movement where people like Atkinson exist can possibly be satirized — though I appreciate the General's efforts.

Maybe there is some hope in the fact that people aren't yet used to seeing this sort of thing. Some didn't even believe he was real, but I didn't doubt it — and I'm sure the General didn't either. There may be a window of opportunity: on the one hand, it would be good to ridicule them and their ideas to the point where they can't be taken seriously; on the other hand, we don't want to mock them so much that public doesn't take the threat seriously and doesn't believe that they really mean what they say.

How much of a threat are they? That's difficult to say, but I'd wager that few would have thought it likely that someone in Atkinson's position even existed, much less could have been publicized and promoted on the site where it was found. It would be a grave error to continue assuming that there aren't already more people like him, or that could be readily brought around to his way of thinking giving the right circumstances. Unfortunately, there are far too many people with far too much influence who have been seriously pondering just what sort of circumstances would work.

We've already seen a couple of conservative writers positively describe the consequences of another terrorist attack on America, even a nuclear one, because of how it would "unite" the people (by force, perhaps) and refocus our attention on the terrorists (or whoever the President so designates). The government itself has been making plans for squadrons of clergy who can be sent out to counsel the people in the wake of martial law, presumably explaining that obedience to the government — even an authoritarian, dictatorial, anti-democratic government — is the will of God because all governments are ultimately established by God.

There's no question but that there are significant numbers of Christians who would continue to regard an America under martial law as an America that is under God — the Christian cosmology is an authoritarian, dictatorial system so why shouldn't a Christian government be one as well? You don't elect God or Jesus, so why elect a president? Over Christianity's long history, collaboration with democracy is relatively recent and short.

Christianity is readily compatible with just about any sort of government, whether free or not, and I don't doubt that many Christians in America would find it easy to accommodate a new system under a President for Life. It's happened before, and it's unwarranted arrogance to assume that American Christians are any better than Christians in other nations — or that Americans in general are so much better that they wouldn’t fall in line like others have.

It thus seems that there are more than a few people who are waiting for an excuse to forcibly unite America behind a single leader. Even worse is the fact that people who are eager for an excuse don't always have the patience to wait for just the right circumstances — sometimes, they decide to take matters into their own hands and produce the excuse themselves.

We see this in a religious context when, say, believers take it upon themselves to deliver "God's justice" to gays for their deviance. There is certainly nothing stopping them from doing the same thing in a political context (especially since there's an element of apocalyptic religious beliefs running throughout the entire present administration). If that's not enough for you to become concerned, perhaps you should check your pulse.

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