The Adventures of the White Man in Search of Satan

“An awful realization has been dawning upon the Bush White House. Christianity is a religion of peace.”

Imagine that! This is Big News to Christopher Hitchens, snarling ex-Trotsykite-turned-fascist-propagandist, who has gone from poking fun at Catholic hypocrisy re Mother Theresa to justifying the Dubbya regime’s every psychopathic word.

“From every pulpit, an appalling ecumenicism is preached, which calls for “more time” at best and for a “hands-off Saddam” line at worst. The papal envoy to Iraq, Cardinal Etchegaray, has told us that Saddam Hussein “is doing everything to avoid war.” With the addition only of a qualifying “this” as its penultimate word, that statement would actually have the merit of being true. I think we can all agree that Saddam likes the status quo to be undisturbed by any violence that is not his own.”

As does George W. Bush.

Indeed as does every American President for as long as most of us care to remember. But Christopher Hitchens doesn’t approve of anyone with a long memory.

At least, not a long memory that hasn’t been vetted by his reactionary likes.

“However, the strongly implied corollary was that “war,” if it should come, would be a strictly American responsibility. How else to interpret the remarks of Cardinal Solano, secretary of state to the Vatican, who recently bleated: “We want to say to America: Is it worth it to you? Won’t you have, afterwards, decades of hostility in the Islamic world?” This solicitude for the feelings of pro-Saddam Muslims—of whom the leading faction is constituted by al-Qaida—is new for Holy Mother Church.”

And the notion that a fanatical (albeit cunning and well-financed) splinter group like Al Queda constitutes a “leading faction” of anything in the Third World is fairly new too.

New as a Richard Perle declaration in fact.

A populace of scattered starving peasants “led” by a small clique of international gangsters who have been able to parlay their country’s chief resource — oil — into a charade of statesmanship is certainly likely to find the squakings of a fundamentalist crackpot — a unwanted by-product of that same clique — to be amusing. But the powerless can’t be said to be “led” by them either. Except in the feverish imagings of Hitchens and his ilk.

“More recently, the pope himself met with Tariq Aziz, who has for many years been the Christian (actually Chaldean Catholic) face of an openly national-socialist party. On these and other grounds, Aziz had a friendly audience with his holiness before going to pose as a pacifist in St. Francis’ old praying-ground at Assisi.”

A scene Firbank surely would have loved to witness.

“Tariq Aziz’s son was recently sentenced to 20 years in an Iraqi jail by Saddam Hussein—an effective means of reminding Saddam’s suave envoy who is boss. (He does that all the time, by the way.)”

Doubtless with much of the casualness that John Ashcroft informs uncounted and undocumented foreign residents “who’s boss” by incarcerating them without trial.

“The Holy Father really ought to have asked to hear Aziz’s confession. But perhaps he couldn’t spare the time for such an arduous undertaking.”

Hitchens should really take some time out of his busy schedule to read Santal. It wouldn’t require so much as the better part of an hour to complete, and is most timely as it constitutes the arch-Catholic Firbank’s sole sortie into Islam — which he not surprisingly finds not all that different from Catholicism.

“One wonders what it would take for the Vatican to condemn Saddam’s regime. Baathism consecrates an entire country to the worship of a single human being. Its dictator has mosques named after himself. I’m not the expert on piety, but isn’t there something blasphemous about this from an Islamic as well as a Christian viewpoint?”

That depends on how one feels the Holy Father himself should be regarded.
Among sundry Catholic sects there’s a lot of disagreement about this.

“I suppose if Saddam came out for partial-birth abortions or the ordination of women or the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle he might be hit with a condemnation of some sort. (Until recently, one might have argued that his abuse of children would get him in hot water with the Vatican, too. But even that expectation now seems vain.)”

Well now Hitchens brings out what he thinks are his “big guns,” what with the “lifestyle” blather and all (which only shows that the Freepers he’s been hanging out with lately have really got their hooks in him.)

The Church’s criminal hypocrisy in protecting rapist priests has virtually negated its moral authority in the world. But even the darkest sinner can be right about some things — though in no real position to do anything about them. That’s the tragedy here.

Not that Hitchens cares.

“In one way, the church’s “peace at any price” policy is a historical improvement. The last instance I can find of Rome supporting a war was when it blessed Gen. Franco’s invasion of Spain, at the head of an army of Muslim mercenaries who were armed and trained by Hitler and Mussolini. And everybody knows of the crusades, which were launched against Christian heretics as well as against Muslims and (invariably) the Jews. But one wonders how the theory of “just war,” largely evolved by Catholic intellectuals such as Augustine and Aquinas, ever managed to endorse the use of force. As applied these days, it appears to commit everybody but Saddam Hussein to an absolute renunciation of violence.”

There is, needless to say, no “absolute renunciation of violence” to be implied by anyone’s opposition to Bush’s war.

But when a smug University-educated boor is on a tear he really can’t be stopped.

“You could see this paradox demonstrated last Sabbath morn on the New York Times op-ed page, by Jimmy Carter: peanut czar, home-builder, Nobel laureate, and Baptist big mouth.”

It’s the three-B send-off of the last line that’s most notable. It makes up for the obligatory peanut reference (clearly the lowest of legume to a middle-class snob with upper-class pretensions like Hitchens) and the “home-builder” sneer.

One could far more usefully bring up Carter’s policy in regard to East Timor. But that would require quoting Satan Himself– Noam Chomsky.

“Reviewing “just-war” precepts, our former president considered the obligation of weaponry to discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. He then asserted:

Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in “collateral damage.” General Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

“Where to begin? Under that condition, there are no circumstances in which a military intervention in Iraq could be justified. Someone could get killed.”

Well, DUH!

“Then again, a man so deeply committed to Habitat for Humanity might ask what kind of habitat this is, where civilians are used as human shields and weapons of poison and disease are concealed under places of worship.”

Oh those silly Iraquis! Don’t they know that simply by existing the evil Saddam has converted them into Weapons of Mass Destruction?

“Last time, Saddam even seized hundreds of foreign nationals in Kuwait and prepared to put them between retribution and himself. (The funniest news of the past week, incidentally, was the decision of the “human shield” volunteer activists to run away from Iraq. Most of them obviously didn’t have the guts for it, but some of them, one hopes, had finally worked out what it was they were really shielding.)”

And here goes Hitchens, cleverly conflating actual Iraquis with the quixotically semi-admirable “Human Shields.”

“Carter announced himself as “a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises.” More accurate would have been “who provoked several severe international crises.” It was the Carter administration that green-lighted, and later armed and aided, Saddam Hussein’s distinctly unilateral invasion of Iran in 1979, an invasion that cost about a million and a half casualties, many of them civilian. I don’t recall Carter being “provoked” by that at all. Incidentally, he describes the present American posture as “substantially unilateral,” a piece of casuistry that wouldn’t disgrace Cardinal Etchegaray himself.”

But greatly please Elliot Abrams.

Carter is much like the Church in this respect. But so what? The roots of his administration’s Iraq policy stretch back over several administrations and involve “Foreign Relations” as forged by the United States since World War II in ways far to complex to be commented on in depth here.

Or by Hitchens anywhere.

“Speaking of casuistry, Carter helpfully added that “American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.” This might be narrowly true, with respect of the planning of the last attacks and given the use of the weak word “unconvincing.” But the same day’s New York Times carried a report with persuasive evidence of a substantial number of Bin-Ladenists on Iraqi soil.”

Since discredited. Try harder dear.

“It’s as hard to get into Iraq as it is to get out, and no Baathist official would make such a safe-haven decision without referring it to the leader.”

So? Your point?

“As a member of Atheists for Regime Change, a small but resilient outfit,”

OOoooooo, get us a list of the other members, dear! I can’t wait to read them!

“I can’t say that any of this pious euphemism, illogic, and moral cowardice distresses me. It shows yet again that there is a fixed gulf between religion and ethics.”

Shocking! And to think it took Saddam Hussein to prove that to Hitchens!

“I hope it’s borne in mind by the president, next time he wants to make a speech implying that God is on the side of the United States (and its godless Constitution). The leading experts in the supernatural, including also the Archbishop of Canterbury, many rabbis, most imams, and Bush’s own “United Methodists” appear to agree that this is not so.”

Well your Freeper friends won’t be pleased about that, dear. Watch your back.

“The Almighty seems, if anything, to have smiled on Saddam Hussein for a quarter of a century. If we want to assure ourselves of a true “coalition of the willing,” we might consider making a pact with the devil.”

But the devil is the one responsible fot the Coalition of the Bought — a situation in which Perle(s) seek to turn us all into swine.

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