Readings for the 2nd Sunday of Advent: BAR 5:1-9; PS 126: 1-6; PHIL 1:4-6, 8-11; LK 3:1-6
It all made me very sad. I'm referring to this week's post-mortem celebration of George H.W. Bush. I was saddened not only because of a family's loss, but because of what the event said about our country's amnesia concerning Mr. Bush's crimes.
Absent that forgetfulness, I saw the funeral as the transformation of a deplorable mass murderer into some kind of Christian saint. It demonstrated what's wrong with our country and with its supporting Christian ideology.
I'm emboldened to make such irreverent observations because the readings for this Second Sunday of Advent. They reintroduce us to the great prophet, John the Baptist who got himself martyred because of his own irreverent criticism of the royal family of his day. And the Bushes, who occupied the very highest offices in our country for 20 years [8 as vice-president + 4 as president (Bush 41) + 8 as president (Bush 43)] come as close to royalty as our country will allow. So, consider these remarks as coming from John's voice in the wilderness. They may get me in trouble too.
In any case, I watched H.W.'s celebratory funeral unfold, I couldn't help thinking of the other side of the story that I and my students at Berea College had learned about the man back in 1990. That's when participants in my Freshman Seminar section researched Bush's Desert Shield and Desert Storm disasters as they developed. We produced a book on it all: Eye on the Storm: Berea College Students Examine the First Gulf War.
The book was finally published in 2002 as Mr. Bush's disgraced son prepared for the even more disastrous Second Gulf War. Here's how the book-jacket blurb described our work:
"This book shows how the Gulf War was motivated by greed for oil, how it violated elementary ethical principles, and even more elementary human rights. Additionally, this study indicates how such motivations and violations were papered over by a basically uncritical, cheerleading press.
But not all Americans joined in the cheers. There was significant opposition to the war throughout the United States. That opposition surfaced strongly at Berea College, in Berea, Kentucky. There, teach-ins and rallies were held regularly; many students traveled to Washington to join the national protest; General Studies courses focused on understanding the war. One student, whose essay appears in this volume, spent days encamped in front of Berea College's administration building to make his dissenting voice heard.
That voice and the others appearing in this volume, deserve to be heard. So do dissenting voices today, at Berea and throughout the country. For the Bush war on our immediate horizon threatens not simply to repeat the history of twelve years ago, but to make its horror seem benign."
Right now, all of that seems eerily prophetic -- especially in the light of Bush 43's indirect creation of ISIS, the absolute devastation of Iraq, and the more-than-one-million deaths caused by his war of aggression.
But before I get to what I and my students learned about W's father, think of the contrasting story we heard and witnessed about the patriarch last week.
"He was such a good and noble man," all the mainstream commentators seemed to whisper in hushed and reverent chorale refrain. "A class act," Ms. Clinton said. "I so admire his family -- so dignified even in mourning,"others gushed. "He was so unlike the present occupant of the White House." "There'll never be another like him -- such a statesman." "A wonderful father," Mr. Bush's son (the greatest war criminal of the 21st century) proclaimed from a pulpit of all places!
That's what we heard. What we saw was even worse.
All the surviving war-criminal heads of American Empire had come together in Washington's National Cathedral to normalize a mafia don and invoke God in doing so. There they were: Carter, Clinton, George W., Obama, and Donald Trump. As Chomsky has said, they're all war lords and mass murderers, every one of them.