“Paging Mr. Pestilence, paging Mr. Pestilence, will the driver of the white horse currently waiting in the parking lot proceed to the paddock now and meet your party?” Yes ladies and gentlemen, that background sound heard around the world in news stories about the swine flu (H1N1) outbreak coming out of Mexico was the collective swishing sound of Revelationists world over pissing their pants.
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Now a week into the crisis and still no raging widespread suffering yet. Yet. But we know based on the comedy they call news shows that they’ve been feeding us for years that something is going to happen and it’s going to be big. Entertainment requires action. We want to be scared. With all the entertainment mayhem we’ve been fed since the days of Coliseum, it’s small wonder that Christians in particular love to scare themselves to death. With a potential plague waiting in the wings, our government may soon have pretext to do almost anything to almost one and call it national security. Millions are hoping to call it the Rapture.
In case you haven’t kept up with the latest favorite fringe fundamentalist freak out, Obama has apparently been officially labeled the anti-Christ and Armageddon’s any day. Or so the right wing noise machine has been saying for the last couple of years. The story got to be so wide spread during the campaign last year that Snopes.com had to debunk the viral e-mail that raced around the Internet with full-strength with lengthy quotes of chapters from Revelation and sections of John I & II.
You’d think that might’ve ended it, but for some, the words Obama and Revelation go together like the words “cyanide pellet” and “sulfuric acid.”
Type in the words “Revelation” and Obama” in a Google search and you get about 2.2 million hits. For Christ sakes, You Tube alone has 4880 “Obama Anti-Christ” videos. The Google search for “Apocalypse” and “Obama” and you get another couple of million hits. Currently the number one ranked on Google is the all caps banner, “ELECTION ’08: WHY OBAMA WILL TRIGGER THE APOCALYPSE," which starts with the words “LOOK INTO THE MIND OF OBAMA - IF YOU DARE!” and just gets sillier from there. Please forgive me as I quote, for it may appear I am shouting, due to the frequent all caps. The web page is only one of many at the website of Pastor Harry from the Church of Philadelphia’s “SATANSRAPTURE.COM the Official Site For E S C A P E 666 Bible Prophecy Revealed.” Even when reduced to twelve point font, the text of that one page of the multi-page site still ran 14 pages and over three thousand words. Festooned with American flags (and an occasional swastika), animated flames, the odd recurring scroll of Biden’s warning about an upcoming test Obama will appear to fail and occasional bold red 36 point all cap block print, the stark white and vertigo inducing orange, yellow, and green texts on the night sky black breathlessly call Obama every variation of biblical boogeyman from alien to zombie.
The opening gambit seems to be a theory built out of the once rampant viral myth that Obama is a secret Muslim whose rein will be disastrous and short: “If Obama wins, his ultra-liberal and reckless policies will plunge the world into global chaos and war, then OBAMA is ASSASSINATED.” Luckily the ancient prophets who organized the bible’s secret codes knew John McCain’s medical records would matter so much to the American public that those 1st century Hebrews tried to warn us in a specially devised cryptogram: “The Bible Code warned ‘JOHN McCAIN NOT PRESIDENT’ & ‘HEART PROBLEMS.’”
As they say, you can’t make this stuff up. Well, I can’t anyway.
Obviously picking apart this guy’s argument is facile: if you believe in this sort of thing then his over-the-top rantings come off tolerable but extreme. If you don’t believe in it then Pastor Harry comes off as a terrorist-inciting cleric after too many magic mushrooms. Unfortunately for the rest of us, pastor Harry is hardly a voice in the wilderness. As the MSM further morphs to Radio Rwanda the of the world are coming out of the woodwork with their Bible in one hand and a .45 in the other, ready to do their part to bring on judgment day.
And there is a reason the book of Revelations have attracted so many people through so many years, just as there was a reason the Y2K scare was way too cool for millions to not get sucked into: secretly or not so secretly we Americans love disasters. We like to be excited by their whiff of violence, titillated by their mystery, hungry for the predictable video of destruction. And there is a reason for the rest of us to be more scared of Armageddon now than before. Thanks to all our modern technology it actually is possible to end life as we know it. For those locked into a cosmic war, there is no other point in existence. Irwin Allen wasn’t a millionaire for nothing. We Americans crave to watch stuff fall apart on a grand scale. And when it comes to disaster, it doesn’t get better than Armageddon. No, not the BS Bruce Willis flick, I’m talking about the real Armageddon, the end of the world as we know it, with all the special effects + every Born-Again’s ultimate fantasy--a grand finale of punishing the wicked replete with lakes of fire and whores of Babylon. Some American Christians’ sense of brotherly love means they long for the day when most of their friends and neighbors are “cast into the fiery pit” while they pluck harps and scarf Dove bars up on Cloud Nine, or at the right hand of god, whichever is available. Throw 49 virgins and you’ve got a Muslim paradise worth suicide bombing yourself into. Worse still: the kind of Americans who enjoy this stuff are the kind of people who are dangerous in the first place. It was not by accident Janet Napolitano had Homeland Security investigate the extremists on the right who are trying to demonize Obama. They are scary. As far as these people are concerned what makes the H1N1 flu particularly handy, it gives them a new reason to wish for the end of mankind, hate Obama, AND hate Mexicans all at the same time.
That hatred is the engine of our great American tradition, Manifest Destiny. Hating and when possible destroying a brown skinned “other” is a part of the “American” culture since Columbus, through those beloved religious fanatics excused away as the Puritans, through Jackson, Sheridan, Wilson. When a drug craze wasn’t enough to demonize Mexico, conveniently this disease shows up and across America, so called “patriots” are reassuring themselves of their loyalty to the flag by hating Mexicans.
This hating Mexicans has been a favorite topic among some Americans since the 1840s when the James K. Polk decided he wanted to move the border between Texas and Mexico. As America was joining the union after being a somewhat surly, fundamentally floundering independent republic for nine years, Polk decided he preferred the Rio Grande be the border between Mexico and our then newest state Texas, who had just cratered under economic pressure trying to run a republic with corrupt officials and begged America to take them in. Polk sent Old Rough and Ready, Zachary Taylor, down to the Nueces river (near modern day Corpus Christi) to march the new international border one hundred and fifty miles south at the point of a gun. America was ready to go to war to take that extra hundred miles and go to war we did.
Some Americans have been hating Latinos every since, using every excuse and even making some up when nothing else was handy. Right wing race-baiting of Hispanics has been allowed to gain credibility once more with the whole drug war just in time to set the stage for the Mexican swine flu to turn Latinos into untouchables as far as the right wing is concerned.
Since the MSM is becoming more and more tolerant of racism and conservatism the point of openly promoting animosity and revolt we can expect many more pundits trying to erect a wall across the Americas, though one knows the real wall they are trying to erect is in our hearts. Manifest Destiny, God’s will that we should do what we want.
I want this flu to go by the wayside, dribble down to nothing before the real killing starts. See, Bible thumpers love a good plague to incite the masses. And the masses rarely like what happens next.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.
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