References to our current administration arise in a variety of places. An essayist in Foreign Affairs referred to the "…brilliant populist manipulator who insisted and probably believed that Providence had chosen him as [his country's] savior, a leader charged with executing a divine mission. God had been drafted into national politics before, but [his] success in fusing … dogma with … Christianity was an immensely powerful element in his electoral campaigns. Some people recognized the moral perils of mixing religion and politics, but many more were seduced by it. It was the pseudoreligious transfiguration of politics that largely ensured his success, notably in Protestant areas."
In his first public address after assuming leadership, this leader declared to his constituency, "The national government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built up. They regard Christianity as the foundation of our national morality and the family as the basis of national life."
The astute reader might possibly guess correctly that the leader was Adolf Hitler. However, the resonance with the Cheney-Rove-Rumsfeld-Bush Administration should not be over-interpreted. The resonance says more about Hitler than Bush. Hitler neither invented nor perfected the fusion of religion with politics. He utilized commonplace political tactics practiced in many times by many leaders. With the possible exception of the French Revolution of 1789, dominated by Age of Reason types, successful secular politicians were a rare breed before the 20th century.
Hitler's evil was not in hiding his personal agenda behind a Godly façade. His evil lay in how he exploited the power he achieved. Other governments, some of them claiming legitimate election, created extermination campaigns matching or exceeding Hitler: the Soviet Union under Stalin and the People's Republic of China under Mao. Although his absolute numbers were small, Pol Pot in Cambodia probably holds the record for systematic extermination of the greatest percentage of his population. None of these claimed the blessing of God.
Despite this alarming use of religion to further politics by the current administration, it hardly qualifies as abusive as Hitler's. The United States does not run concentration camps that exempt internees from the faintest shreds of respect for human dignity.
Except we do have brutal prisons in Iraq, don't we? The abuses are attributed to rogue guards, but it seems the US military administration was unconcerned with the abuses until revealed by the press.
But let's not count military abuses abroad. At least we don't have concentration camps on US territory. However, Guantanamo Bay is US soil. If we wish, we can excuse these brutal prisons because they only incarcerate citizens of other lands.
But we do find there a few detainees with dual citizenship who might be working against our National Security. Maybe they deserve to be held without charges or legal resources until we determine if their danger to our security warrants ignoring their US citizenship.
At least we US citizens on the mainland still enjoy the same rights we enjoyed before the current administration took office. We need not fear that our rights will be interrupted without due process.
Except for those of us who have violated the rather vague provisions of the Patriot Act. We can still console ourselves that the most egregious abuses of the Patriot Act have, so far, been reserved for non-Christian US citizens whose politics are at odds with our President. The rest of us who believe in the sanctity of the family and the divinity of Christ are all the safer because our Administration is looking out for the best interest of our country and will let no one stand in the way of protecting us from those who wish to destroy our common family, religious, and political values.
A craven Congress approved the Iraq invasion and the Patriot Act almost unanimously. The aforementioned essayist, Fritz Stern, said in the same essay, "...civic passivity & willed blindness were necessary preconditions for the triumph of National Socialism..." Perhaps the parallels are more valid than we might think.
Reference: Fritz Stern, Foreign Affairs 2005 (May/June); volume 84 (#3): p16.
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