Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Betrayal of trust

Bill Moyers has pointed out that even while Karl Rove "asked God to bless the president and the country, ... reports were circulating that he himself had confessed to friends his own agnosticism; he wished he could believe, but he cannot." So the great political strategist is indeed only that: he is ready to manipulate the good Christian people on the right for political ends.

Few trends are more worrisome than the uses now being made of biblical terms and images in politics. Politicians deliberately and calculatedly proclaim their devotion to God. Would that it were true! – at least would that an authentic appreciation of the biblical texts as they are would be reflected in the discernment and wisdom of those who lead. The NIV translation of Psalms 139:20 reads, referring to God, “They speak of you with evil intent; your adversaries misuse your name.” Even people who know nothing about the Bible or have no use for it consider the new prominence of religious claims in politics to be cynical, like the Psalmist here. We are all disgusted by the pious use of grand moralistic rhetoric for insidious and self serving ends. As it happens, I find the policies and practices of the current administration unwise, shamefull, and frightening. Who can deny by this time that they have led our country into disaster? Already we don't know how to help those faithful Iraqis who have supported our activities and now must flee for their lives.

Administrations do blunder of course, like us all, but the absence of wisdom in this administration can be attributed to human qualities (arrogance, obstinacy, if not deliberate ignorance) that no one would consider moral, much less “Christian.”

So what will my dear friends on the Christian right feel as they discover they have been used for partisan reasons by a skeptic, a secular manipulator? Indeed, hardly any of those in this administration appear to be "believers". This is why the neo-cons in this administration have no moral qualms about legalizing the torture of prisoners in American care.

It is hard to understand why so many good, upright Americans have been willing to accept the justifications given by this administration for abusing human rights and misrepresenting the truth, as it has done over and over again. As time goes by we are going to find out that many of those who shaped American policy were nothing other than political manipulators -- managing the goodwill of the American public. Most Americans, like people everywhere else, are busy with their own problems. At least in the democracies, people can leave the management of state affairs to those whom they have elected for that purpose.

Few people have the time or inclination to follow precisely what leaders are actually doing; they accept their leaders by faith. What this American public is going to discover over time is that they have been betrayed over and over again. They will discover betrayal as they find out about many others besides Karl Rove who have manipulated their good will: Ralph Reed, Senator Larry Craig, Paul Wolfowitz, and many others in this administratin who have insisted on making false claims in the face of truth (Cheney), framed policy without doing the necessary homework (Rumsfeld, Bush), and placed our faithful military personnel into impossible situations at the risk of their own lives.

Even the Republication leaders are appalled at the enlarging pile of mess-ups. As Scott Reed put it in his recent critique of his own Republican party, "no one could make this up."

1 comment:

Sami said...

This not so surprising revelation (or allegation, I suppose) that Rove may not in fact be a true believer, but rather just a cynical manipulator of American Evangelical Christians was introduced a few months ago, in May 2007, by Christopher Hitchens.

According to Hitchens, who is quoted in a New York Magazine interview of him, Rove's attitude towards the whole faith thing was something along the lines of "I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith."

The following is a link to the interview that set the blogosphere on fire: