The Revolution Was Not Televised
by William Rivers Pitt
November 1, 2003
First Published in Truthout
There was a large anti-war rally in Washington last week. The standard slogans were on display for all to see: Impeach Bush, Bring The Troops Home, No Blood For Oil. On the periphery of the protest stood a few dozen 'patriots' holding a counter-demonstration in support of Bush and the Iraq war. Among the signs carried by this crew was a banner that succinctly summed up the madness of the age, and the dangerous nature of the current ruling class.
Across the top of the banner, which was clearly professionally made and not hand-lettered, were the block-letter words "SUPPORT PRESIDENT BUSH." Through the center of the banner were black outlines of a fighter aircraft, a tank, an M-16 rifle, a .45 caliber pistol, an attack helicopter, a surface-to-air missile battery, and a thermonuclear bomb. Underneath these images were two more block-letter words: "TRUST JESUS."
The sentiment apparently finds resonance with Senator Trent Lott, Republican of Mississippi. The Wednesday edition of The Hill carried a story about GOP concerns over the manner in which the post-war war is unfolding. The trepidation is understandable; more American troops have been killed in the 'Mission Accomplished' phase of the war than in the war itself. Lott responded to the crisis in Iraq by saying, "If we have to, we just mow the whole place down, see what happens."
The Bush administration has tried to frame their wars as not being a religiously-based crusade against the Islamic world. This has been a hard-sell with Muslims, especially since Bush used the word "crusade" immediately after September 11. Norman Podhoretz, one of the ideological fathers of the cadre of hawks currently running our foreign policy, publicly described our conflict in the Mideast as being a process aimed at bringing about "the reformation and modernization of Islam." The religious overtones are difficult to miss.
Perhaps the best example of where we stand today comes in the guise of Lt. General William Boykin, deputy undersecretary for defense, who is charged with finding important enemies like Osama bin Laden. Boykin, when not smoking 'em out of their holes, has been touring the fundamentalist pulpits across the America. Describing the hunt for a Somali warlord last January, Boykin said, "I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol."
Boykin has held forth on the true meaning of the War on Terror. "Satan wants to destroy this nation," says Boykin, "he wants to destroy us as a nation, and he wants to destroy us as a Christian army." In June of 2002, Boykin held up a photograph of Mogadishu to a church congregation. The photo carried the image of a dark spot in the sky above the city. "Ladies and gentlemen," Boykin said, "this is your enemy. It is the principalities of darkness. It is a demonic presence in that city that God revealed to me as the enemy."
The banner carried by the 'patriot' in Washington should have had the black outline of an oil well alongside all those weapons. Trusting Jesus has been a lucrative business for some. The Center for Public Integrity released a report on Thursday which details how $8 billion in contracts to 'rebuild' Iraq and Afghanistan have gone exclusively to companies which donated piles of money to Bush's 2000 election campaign. These contracts were awarded without the usual bidding process; few beyond the friends of Bush were given the opportunity to cash in on the war.
Most prominent on the list of companies awarded these contacts is Halliburton, the oil company recently run by Vice President Dick Cheney. Halliburton subsidiary, Kellog Brown & Root, has gathered to itself a tidy $2.3 billion contract to repair Iraq's oil industry. The price tag for this project was doubled recently by the Bush administration so Halliburton could get a larger share of the $87 billion allocated for Iraq. The reason for the doubling? Halliburton plans to go beyond repairing old oil wells and develop new wells to tap virgin supplies of oil and gas.
Islam is not the only religion to have a militant, fundamentalist Taliban wing making up part of the whole. In America, the Taliban wing of Christianity has assumed power. The banner at that 'patriot' rally captures the essence of these frightening extremists: Supporting Bush is placed on the same level as worshipping Jesus, and shot through the middle is the steel fist of weapons and war. September 11 has been refashioned by the Christian Taliban as a rallying cry for an end-times death match against Islam, a rallying cry that obscures the orgasm of profiteering that is taking place behind the scenes.
There has been a religiously fundamentalist revolution in the United States. The extremists have taken control of the White House, Congress, the courts, and the military. You did not see this on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC or Fox, but it happened all the same.
William Rivers Pitt is the Managing Editor of Truthout.org, where this article first appeared (www.truthout.org). He is a New York Times and international best-selling author of three books War On Iraq, available from Context Books, The Greatest Sedition is Silence, available from Pluto Press, and Our Flag, Too: The Paradox of Patriotism, available in August from Context Books. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Related Link: “U.S. Contractors Reap the Windfalls of Postwar Reconstruction Center for Public Integrity” by the Center for Public Integrity.