Are rarely the same
As their name, as their name -- Larkin
Is Bush evil? Is bin-Laden?
Bush speaks often about 'evil', as in: the evil ones, evil people, he's evil, no isolation from evil, evil has returned, evil is real, terrorism is evil, America faces an evil, we're fighting evil, an evil man that we're dealing with, we will not stop until we defeat evil.
There may be things that we correctly label evil, but are all attacks on Americans and our agents and allies 'evil'? Bush has always viewed any action against Americans - even against his bloody occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan - as evil while, at the same time, declaring the success of his own militarism ordained by God herself.
There is that similar thread that runs through the ideology of Bush and bin-Laden alike; that of religious-based rhetoric that accompanies their violent acts; waged either out of defense or to serve their own narrow interests. Both seek to shackle their followers to their deadly political pieties, in which religion is used to rationalize and justify the violence they employ to achieve their political objectives. Bush has his 'war on terror' which he fancies himself doing God's work as he wields the awesome force of our nations military. Bin-Laden has his war on infidels which he wages in the name of Allah with the lives of his followers.
"Faith shows us the reality of good, and the reality of evil," President Bush said at a prayer breakfast shortly after the 9-11 attacks. "Some acts and choices in this world have eternal consequences. It is always, and everywhere, wrong to target and kill the innocent. It is always, and everywhere, wrong to be cruel and hateful, to enslave and oppress."
Peter Baker at the WaPost reported on an interview Bush gave Tuesday, where he told a group of 'conservative journalists' that he "senses a "Third Awakening" of religious devotion in the United States that has coincided with the nation's struggle with international terrorists, a war that he depicted as "a confrontation between good and evil."
Mr. Baker wrote that, "Bush noted that some of Abraham Lincoln's strongest supporters were religious people "who saw life in terms of good and evil" and who believed that slavery was evil. Many of his own supporters, he said, see the current conflict in similar terms."
Rich Lowery at NatReview provided a few excerpts of the interview. "Freedom is universal," he quotes Bush as saying. "I recognize there's a debate around the world about the kind of - whether that principle is real. I call it moral relativism, if people do not believe that certain people can be free. I mean, I just cannot subscribe to that. People - I know it upsets people when I ascribe that to my belief in an Almighty, and that I believe a gift from that Almighty is universal freedom. That's what I believe."
"Cultures do change," Bush told the journalists. "Ideological struggles are won, but it takes time. It just takes time . . . I'm not giving you a definitive statement - it seems like to me there's a Third Awakening with a cultural change . . . It feels like it."
Abraham Lincoln spoke to the notion of divinity's mandate to vigilance when he remarked on the violence of the abolitionist, John Brown in his Cooper Union address. "An enthusiast broods over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by heaven to liberate them," he said.
"Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be changed," he continued. "There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and feeling - that sentiment - by breaking up the political organization which rallies around it."
Lincoln suffered for the success of his war at the point of a terrorist's gun. It would be impossible to argue that he died merely for the defense of territory. The surrender of the southern army brought freedom for the majority of slaves. And, no matter how we judge the immediate impact of Lincoln's proclamation, the victory led to the emancipation and the subsequent empowerment of Africans in America. Yet, Lincoln believed that adherence to the principles of democracy would distinguish any victory in a manner that would provide for the durability of the Union and foster a national affirmation of the rights of the individual.
"It was that," he said, "which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men."
We don't know why the 9-11 bombers attacked, though they've given countless explanations and attempted justifications for their vile act. We can't discern the truth behind any of the attacker's complaints (as they were offered), and it make no difference at all, anyway. There can be no justification; no combatant can hold themselves blameless for attacks on innocents because of where they perceive the violence to have begun. The animosity and grudges between us have now spread to areas that are far removed from the original attack on 9-11 as Bush and his regime have cast an infinite web of militarism in pursuit of their 'war on terror'.
If we care in the U.S. to listen to the voices from many of the citizens from the rest of the world we can't miss the majority of angry expressions of blame and anguish that place the moniker of 'evil' at the feet of bin-Laden and his accomplices for the 9-11 attacks, without hesitation. However, America can't escape their view that Bush, the republicans, and others who support his continuing occupation of Iraq, are as evil as the rest of them.