By Michael Hasty
Online Journal Contributing Writer
January 10, 2004
Just before his death, James Jesus Angleton, the legendary
chief of counterintelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency, was a
bitter man. He felt betrayed by the people he had worked for all his life.
In the end, he had come to realize that they were never really interested in
American ideals of "freedom" and "democracy." They really only wanted
Angleton told author Joseph Trento that the reason he had gotten the
counterintelligence job in the first place was by agreeing not to submit
"sixty of Allen Dulles' closest friends" to a polygraph test concerning
their business deals with the Nazis. In his end-of-life despair, Angleton
assumed that he would see all his old companions again "in hell."
The transformation of James Jesus Angleton from an enthusiastic, Ivy League
cold warrior, to a bitter old man, is an extreme example of a phenomenon I
call a "paranoid shift." I recognize the phenomenon, because something
similar happened to me.
Although I don't remember ever meeting James Jesus Angleton, I worked at the
CIA myself as a low-level clerk as a teenager in the '60s. This was at the
same time I was beginning to question the government's actions in Vietnam.
In fact, my personal "paranoid shift" probably began with the
disillusionment I felt when I realized that the story of American foreign
policy was, at the very least, more complicated and darker than I had
hitherto been led to believe.
But for most of the next 30 years, even though I was a radical, I
nevertheless held faith in the basic integrity of a system where power
ultimately resided in the people, and whereby if enough people got together
and voted, real and fundamental change could happen.
What constitutes my personal paranoid shift is that I no longer believe this
to be necessarily true.
In his book, "Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower," William
Blum warns of how the media will make anything that smacks of "conspiracy
theory" an immediate "object of ridicule." This prevents the media from ever
having to investigate the many strange interconnections among the ruling
class-for example, the relationship between the boards of directors of media
giants, and the energy, banking and defense industries. These unmentionable
topics are usually treated with what Blum calls "the media's most effective
tool-silence." But in case somebody's asking questions, all you have to do
is say, "conspiracy theory," and any allegation instantly becomes too
frivolous to merit serious attention.
On the other hand, since my paranoid shift, whenever I hear the words
"conspiracy theory" (which seems more often, lately) it usually means
someone is getting too close to the truth.
Take September 11-which I identify as the date my paranoia actually shifted,
though I didn't know it at the time.
Unless I'm paranoid, it doesn't make any sense at all that George W. Bush,
commander-in-chief, sat in a second-grade classroom for 20 minutes after he
was informed that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center, listening
to children read a story about a goat. Nor does it make sense that the
Number 2 man, Dick Cheney-even knowing that "the commander" was on a mission
in Florida-nevertheless sat at his desk in the White House, watching TV,
until the Secret Service dragged him out by the armpits.
Unless I'm paranoid, it makes no sense that Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld sat at his desk until Flight 77 hit the Pentagon-well over an hour
after the military had learned about the multiple hijacking in progress. It
also makes no sense that the brand-new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
sat in a Senate office for two hours while the 9/11 attacks took place,
after leaving explicit instructions that he not be disturbed-which he
In other words, while the 9/11 attacks were occurring, the entire top of the
chain of command of the most powerful military in the world sat at various
desks, inert. Why weren't they in the "Situation Room?" Don't any of them
ever watch "West Wing?"
In a sane world, this would be an object of major scandal. But here on this
side of the paranoid shift, it's business as usual.
Years, even decades before 9/11, plans had been drawn up for American forces
to take control of the oil interests of the Middle East, for various
imperialist reasons. And these plans were only contingent upon "a
catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor," to gain the
majority support of the American public to set the plans into motion. When
the opportunity presented itself, the guards looked the other way . . . and
presto, the path to global domination was open.
Simple, as long as the media played along. And there is voluminous evidence
that the media play along. Number one on Project Censored's annual list of
underreported stories in 2002 was the Project for a New American Century
(now the infrastructure of the Bush Regime), whose report, published in
2000, contains the above "Pearl Harbor" quote.
Why is it so hard to believe serious people who have repeatedly warned us
that powerful ruling elites are out to dominate "the masses?" Did we think
Dwight Eisenhower was exaggerating when he warned of the extreme "danger" to
democracy of "the military industrial complex?" Was Barry Goldwater just
being a quaint old-fashioned John Bircher when he said that the Trilateral
Commission was "David Rockefeller's latest scheme to take over the world, by
taking over the government of the United States?" Were Teddy and Franklin
Roosevelt or Joseph Kennedy just being class traitors when they talked about
a small group of wealthy elites who operate as a hidden government behind
the government? Especially after he died so mysteriously, why shouldn't we
believe the late CIA Director William Colby, who bragged about how the CIA
"owns everyone of any major significance in the major media?"
Why can't we believe James Jesus Angleton-a man staring eternal judgment in
the face-when he says that the founders of the Cold War national security
state were only interested in "absolute power?" Especially when the
descendant of a very good friend of Allen Dulles now holds power in the
Prescott Bush, the late, aristocratic senator from Connecticut, and
grandfather of George W Bush, was not only a good friend of Allen Dulles,
CIA director, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, and
international business lawyer. He was also a client of Dulles' law firm. As
such, he was the beneficiary of Dulles' miraculous ability to scrub the
story of Bush's treasonous investments in the Third Reich out of the news
media, where it might have interfered with Bush's political career . . . not
to mention the presidential careers of his son and grandson.
Recently declassified US government documents, unearthed last October by
investigative journalist John Buchanan at the New Hampshire Gazette, reveal
that Prescott Bush's involvement in financing and arming the Nazis was more
extensive than previously known. Not only was Bush managing director of the
Union Banking Corporation, the American branch of Hitler's chief financier's
banking network; but among the other companies where Bush was a director-and
which were seized by the American government in 1942, under the Trading With
the Enemy Act-were a shipping line which imported German spies; an energy
company that supplied the Luftwaffe with high-ethyl fuel; and a steel
company that employed Jewish slave labor from the Auschwitz concentration
Like all the other Bush scandals that have been swept under the rug in the
privatized censorship of the corporate media, these revelations have been
largely ignored, with the exception of a single article in the Associated
Press. And there are those, even on the left, who question the current
relevance of this information.
But Prescott Bush's dealings with the Nazis do more than illustrate a family
pattern of genteel treason and war profiteering-from George Senior's sale of
TOW missiles to Iran at the same time he was selling biological and chemical
weapons to Saddam Hussein, to Junior's zany misadventures in crony
capitalism in present-day Iraq.
More disturbing by far are the many eerie parallels between Adolph Hitler
and George W. Bush:
A conservative, authoritarian style, with public appearances in military
uniform (which no previous American president has ever done while in
office). Government by secrecy, propaganda and deception. Open assaults on
labor unions and workers' rights. Preemptive war and militant nationalism.
Contempt for international law and treaties. Suspiciously convenient
"terrorist" attacks, to justify a police state and the suspension of
liberties. A carefully manufactured image of "The Leader," who's still just
a "regular guy" and a "moderate." "Freedom" as the rationale for every
action. Fantasy economic growth, based on unprecedented budget deficits and
massive military spending.
And a cold, pragmatic ideology of fascism-including the violent suppression
of dissent and other human rights; the use of torture, assassination and
concentration camps; and most important, Benito Mussolini's preferred
definition of "fascism" as "corporatism, because it binds together the
interests of corporations and the state."
By their fruits, you shall know them.
What perplexes me most is probably the same question that plagues most
paranoiacs: why don't other people see these connections?
Oh, sure, there may be millions of us, lurking at websites like Online
Journal, >From the Wilderness, Center for Cooperative Research, and the
Center for Research on Globalization, checking out right-wing conspiracists
and the galaxy of 9/11 sites, and reading columnists like Chris Floyd at the
Moscow Times, and Maureen Farrell at Buzzflash. But we know we are only a
furtive minority, the human remnant among the pod people in the live-action,
21st-century version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."
And being paranoid, we have to figure out, with an answer that fits into our
system, why more people don't see the connections we do. Fortunately, there
are a number of possible explanations.
First on the list would have to be what Marshal McLuhan called the "cave art
of the electronic age:" advertising. Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Karl Rove,
gave credit for most of his ideas on how to manipulate mass opinion to
American commercial advertising, and to the then-new science of "public
relations." But the public relations universe available to the corporate
empire that rules the world today makes the Goebbels operation look
primitive. The precision of communications technology and graphics; the
century of research on human psychology and emotion; and the uniquely
centralized control of triumphant post-Cold War monopoly capitalism, have
combined to the point where "the manufacture of consent" can be set on
A second major reason people won't make the paranoid shift is that they are
too fundamentally decent. They can't believe that the elected leaders of our
country, the people they've been taught through 12 years of public school to
admire and trust, are capable of sending young American soldiers to their
deaths and slaughtering tens of thousands of innocent civilians, just to
satisfy their greed-especially when they're so rich in the first place.
Besides, America is good, and the media are liberal and overly critical.
Third, people don't want to look like fools. Being a "conspiracy theorist"
is like being a creationist. The educated opinion of eminent experts on
every TV and radio network is that any discussion of "oil" being a
motivation for the US invasion of Iraq is just out of bounds, and anyone who
thinks otherwise is a "conspiracy theorist." We can trust the integrity of
our 'no-bid" contracting in Iraq, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a
"conspiracy theorist." Of course, people sometimes make mistakes, but our
military and intelligence community did the best they could on and before
September 11, and anybody who thinks otherwise is a "conspiracy theorist."
Lee Harvey Oswald was the sole assassin of JFK, and anyone who thinks
otherwise is a "conspiracy theorist."
Perhaps the biggest hidden reason people don't make the paranoid shift is
that knowledge brings responsibility. If we acknowledge that an inner circle
of ruling elites controls the world's most powerful military and
intelligence system; controls the international banking system; controls the
most effective and far-reaching propaganda network in history; controls all
three branches of government in the world's only superpower; and controls
the technology that counts the people's votes, we might be then forced to
conclude that we don't live in a particularly democratic system. And then
voting and making contributions and trying to stay informed wouldn't be
enough. Because then the duty of citizenship would go beyond serving as a
loyal opposition, to serving as a "loyal resistance"-like the Republicans in
the Spanish Civil War, except that in this case the resistance to fascism
would be on the side of the national ideals, rather than the government; and
a violent insurgency would not only play into the empire's hands, it would
be doomed from the start.
Forming a nonviolent resistance movement, on the other hand, might mean
forsaking some middle class comfort, and it would doubtless require a lot of
work. It would mean educating ourselves and others about the nature of the
truly apocalyptic beast we face. It would mean organizing at the most basic
neighborhood level, face to face. (We cannot put our trust in the empire's
technology.) It would mean reaching across turf lines and transcending
single-issue politics, forming coalitions and sharing data and names and
strategies, and applying energy at every level of government, local to
global. It would also probably mean civil disobedience, at a time when the
Bush regime is starting to classify that action as "terrorism." In the end,
it may mean organizing a progressive confederacy to govern ourselves, just
as our revolutionary founders formed the Continental Congress. It would mean
being wise as serpents, and gentle as doves.
It would be a lot of work. It would also require critical mass. A paradigm
But as a paranoid, I'm ready to join the resistance. And the main reason is
I no longer think that the "conspiracy" is much of a "theory."
That the US House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations
concluded that the murder of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was "probably" the
result of "a conspiracy," and that 70 percent of Americans agree with this
conclusion, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the Bay of Pigs fiasco, "Operation Zapata," was organized by members of
Skull and Bones, the ghoulish and powerful secret society at Yale University
whose membership also included Prescott, George Herbert Walker and George W
Bush; that two of the ships that carried the Cuban counterrevolutionaries to
their appointment with absurdity were named the "Barbara" and the
"Houston"-George HW Bush's city of residence at the time-and that the oil
company Bush owned, then operating in the Caribbean area, was named
"Zapata," is not "theory." It's fact.
That George Bush was the CIA director who kept the names of what were
estimated to be hundreds of American journalists, considered to be CIA
"assets," from the Church Committee, the US Senate Intelligence Committe
chaired by Senator Frank Church that investigated the CIA in the 1970s; that
a 1971 University of Michigan study concluded that, in America, the more TV
you watched, the less you knew; and that a recent survey by international
scholars found that Americans were the most "ignorant" of world affairs out
of all the populations they studied, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the Council on Foreign Relations has a history of influence on official
US government foreign policy; that the protection of US supplies of Middle
East oil has been a central element of American foreign policy since the
Second World War; and that global oil production has been in decline since
its peak year, 2000, is not "theory." It's fact.
That, in the early 1970s, the newly-formed Trilateral Commission published a
report which recommended that, in order for "globalization" to succeed,
American manufacturing jobs had to be exported, and American wages had to
decline, which is exactly what happened over the next three decades; and
that, during that same period, the richest one percent of Americans doubled
their share of the national wealth, is not "theory." It's fact.
That, beyond their quasi-public role as agents of the US Treasury
Department, the Federal Reserve Banks are profit-making corporations, whose
beneficiaries include some of America's wealthiest families; and that the
United States has a virtual controlling interest in the World Bank, the
International Monetary Fund, and the World Trade Organization, the three
dominant global financial institutions, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That-whether it's heroin from Southeast Asia in the '60s and '70s, or
cocaine from Central America and heroin from Afghanistan in the '80s, or
cocaine from Colombia in the '90s, or heroin from Afghanistan today-no major
CIA covert operation has ever lacked a drug smuggling component, and that
the CIA has hired Nazis, fascists, drug dealers, arms smugglers, mass
murderers, perverts, sadists, terrorists and the Mafia, is not "theory."
That the international oil industry is the dominant player in the global
economy; that the Bush family has a decades-long business relationship with
the Saudi royal family, Saudi oil money, and the family of Osama bin Laden;
that, as president, both George Bushes have favored the interests of oil
companies over the public interest; that both George Bushes have personally
profited financially from Middle East oil; and that American oil companies
doubled their records for quarterly profits in the months just preceding the
invasion of Iraq, is not "theory." It's fact.
That the 2000 presidential election was deliberately stolen; that the
pro-Bush/anti-Gore bias in the corporate media had spiked markedly in the
last three weeks of the campaign; that corporate media were then virtually
silent about the Florida recount; and that the Bush 2000 team had planned to
challenge the legitimacy of the election if George W had won the popular,
but lost the electoral vote-exactly what happened to Gore-is not "theory."
That the intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction was
deceptively "cooked" by the Bush administration; that anybody paying
attention to people like former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, knew
before the invasion that the weapons were a hoax; and that American forces
in Iraq today are applying the same brutal counterinsurgency tactics
pioneered in Central America in the 1980s, under the direct supervision of
then-Vice President George HW Bush, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That "Rebuilding America's Defenses," the Project for a New American
Century's 2000 report, and "The Grand Chessboard," a book published a few
years earlier by Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski, both
recommended a more robust and imperial US military presence in the oil basin
of the Middle East and the Caspian region; and that both also suggested that
American public support for this energy crusade would depend on public
response to a new "Pearl Harbor," is not "theory." It's fact.
That, in the 1960s, the Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously approved a plan
called "Operation Northwoods," to stage terrorist attacks on American soil
that could be used to justify an invasion of Cuba; and that there is
currently an office in the Pentagon whose function is to instigate terrorist
attacks that could be used to justify future strategically-desired military
responses, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That neither the accusation by former British Environmental Minister Michael
Meacham, Tony Blair's longest-serving cabinet minister, that George W Bush
allowed the 9/11 attacks to happen to justify an oil war in the Middle East;
nor the RICO lawsuit filed by 9/11 widow Ellen Mariani against Bush, Cheney,
Rumsfeld and the Council on Foreign Relations (among others), on the grounds
that they conspired to let the attacks happen to cash in on the ensuing war
profiteering, has captured the slightest attention from American corporate
media is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the FBI has completely exonerated-though never identified-the
speculators who purchased, a few days before the attacks (through a bank
whose previous director is now the CIA executive director), an unusual
number of "put" options, and who made millions betting that the stocks in
American and United Airlines would crash, is not a "theory." It's fact.
That the US intelligence community received numerous warnings, from multiple
sources, throughout the summer of 2001, that a major terrorist attack on
American interests was imminent; that, according to the chair of the
"independent" 9/11 commission, the attacks "could have and should have been
prevented," and according to a Senate Intelligence Committee member, "All
the dots were connected;" that the White House has verified George W Bush's
personal knowledge, as of August 6, 2001, that these terrorist attacks might
be domestic and might involve hijacked airliners; that, in the summer of
2001, at the insistence of the American Secret Service, anti-aircraft
ordnance was installed around the city of Genoa, Italy, to defend against a
possible terrorist suicide attack, by aircraft, against George W Bush, who
was attending the economic summit there; and that George W Bush has
nevertheless regaled audiences with his first thought upon seeing the
"first" plane hit the World Trade Center, which was: "What a terrible
pilot," is not "theory." It's fact.
That, on the morning of September 11, 2001: standard procedures and policies
at the nation's air defense and aviation bureaucracies were ignored, and
communications were delayed; the black boxes of the planes that hit the WTC
were destroyed, but hijacker Mohammed Atta's passport was found in pristine
condition; high-ranking Pentagon officers had cancelled their commercial
flight plans for that morning; George H.W. Bush was meeting in Washington
with representatives of Osama bin Laden's family, and other investors in the
world's largest private equity firm, the Carlyle Group; the CIA was
conducting a previously-scheduled mock exercise of an airliner hitting the
Pentagon; the chairs of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees
were having breakfast with the chief of Pakistan's intelligence agency, who
resigned a week later on suspicion of involvement in the 9/11 attacks; and
the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States sat in a
second grade classroom for 20 minutes after hearing that a second plane had
struck the towers, listening to children read a story about a goat, is not
"theoretical." These are facts.
That the Bush administration has desperately fought every attempt to
independently investigate the events of 9/11, is not a "theory."
Nor, finally, is it in any way a "theory" that the one, single name that can
be directly linked to the Third Reich, the US military industrial complex,
Skull and Bones, Eastern Establishment good ol' boys, the Illuminati, Big
Texas Oil, the Bay of Pigs, the Miami Cubans, the Mafia, the FBI, the JFK
assassination, the New World Order, Watergate, the Republican National
Committee, Eastern European fascists, the Council on Foreign Relations, the
Trilateral Commission, the United Nations, CIA headquarters, the October
Surprise, the Iran/Contra scandal, Inslaw, the Christic Institute, Manuel
Noriega, drug-running "freedom fighters" and death squads, Iraqgate, Saddam
Hussein, weapons of mass destruction, the blood of innocents, the savings
and loan crash, the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the
"Octopus," the "Enterprise," the Afghan mujaheddin, the War on Drugs, Mena
(Arkansas), Whitewater, Sun Myung Moon, the Carlyle Group, Osama bin Laden
and the Saudi royal family, David Rockefeller, Henry Kissinger, and the
presidency and vice-presidency of the United States, is: George Herbert
"Theory?" To the contrary.
It is a well-documented, tragic and-especially if you're paranoid-terrifying
Michael Hasty is a writer, activist, musician, carpenter and farmer. His
award-winning column, "Thinking Locally," appeared for seven years in the
Hampshire Review, West Virginia's oldest newspaper. His writing has also
appeared in the Highlands Voice, the Washington Peace Letter, the Takoma
Park Newsletter, the German magazine Generational Justice, and the
Washington Post; and at the websites Common Dreams and Democrats.com. In
January 1989, he was the media spokesperson for the counter-inaugural
coalition at George Bush's Counter-Inaugural Banquet, which fed hundreds of
DC's homeless in front of Union Station, where the official inaugural dinner
was being held.
Permission to reprint is granted, provided it includes this autobiographical
note, and credit for first publication to Online Journal.
Oh, and there's this:
"Have you noticed that "our" Vice-President has spent the entire past
month doing all he can to convince all that will listen that there was a
connection between 9/11 and Iraq? Not to mention he that still has
433,000 shares of Halliburton, and still receives ~$1,000,000/yr. from
Halliburton, he still openly says "I have no conflict of interest..." . . .
How much more smug can a liar be? I think they are convinced that
since they have control, and a power-lock, on all three branches of
the "democracy", and its media, that they can and say do anything
they wish and know they will get away with it.
So far - They have.
The Cloaking of Evil
Jesus vs. the Beast of the Apocalypse
By Glen Martin
Recently, I have been reading the gospels of Jesus Christ once again (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John). The teachings of Jesus about how to live our lives are astonishing. Essentially, Jesus says that all our worldly values must be turned upside down, for God's judgment is on the rich, on "the nations" and on the powerful of the world. God's love and mercy are for the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed.
In this spirit, Jesus condemns the Pharisees, the respectable religious people of his day, for they perform the empty rituals of worship but do not live authentic lives of service to the kingdom of God. Jesus says he has come to bring the kingdom of God to Earth. But the respectable religious and civil leaders of his day do not care for the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed. They prefer to be seen as respectable, as upholders of the established social, economic and religious order.
As a professor who teaches philosophy of religion at my university, I have read extensively in the theology of Latin American Christians who have produced much wonderful Christian thought since the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65. One theme that emerges again and again in this literature is the deceptive nature of the great beast of the apocalypse (the Antichrist), symbolically described in the Book of Revelation. For evil in our world does not present itself as evil.
Evil presents itself as "respectability," as the established way of doing things, as the accepted social morality of a society. Evil hides, they say, in everydayness, in business as usual, in what is given honors and the highest praise. Evil poses as its opposite, for the goal of the Antichrist is to prevent the realization of God's kingdom on Earth, to destroy the possibility of human beings living together in love and peace upon the precious planet granted to us as our home by God.
If one thinks about it, this is fairly obvious. Evil could not be successful in preventing people from living together in peace and harmony on the Earth if it appeared to us as a hideous monster (the traditional image of the devil). We would see it for what it is and turn away in horror. But if evil can cloak itself in the image of good--if it can appear as its opposite--then the destruction of God's kingdom on Earth can proceed unhindered.
This cloaking of evil is all the more necessary given the simplicity and clarity of Jesus' teachings. He sums up his teaching with astonishing focus in the "great commandment" of Matthew 22. All of the law and the prophets (including the Ten Commandments), he says, are summed up in the most fundamental command from God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind. ... And like unto it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
When his critics asked him, "And who is my neighbor?," he again answers with great clarity through the story of the good Samaritan. A man is beaten and left for dead on the side of the road. A priest and a Levite pass by the man on the other side, for they don't want to take risks and this might be a trap laid by the thieves. These are the respectable religious and civic leaders of Jesus' day.
But Jesus says a Samaritan stops and helps the wounded man. To the respectable ears of Jesus' day, this was outrageous. The Samaritans were foreigners. They were not Jews (who considered themselves the true disciples of God in Jesus' day). They were considered dirty, ignorant and deluded foreigners not worthy of mention. They were heathens, not followers of the true religion. Yet Jesus says a Samaritan loved his neighbor as himself. And he says that all people, like Samaritans, are our neighbors who must be loved as we love ourselves.
One wonders where the followers of Jesus are today. St. Paul tells us that the early Christian communities were persecuted by the respectable established system of their day (the Roman Empire), for they refused to serve in the military and refused to recognize the established religious orthodoxy and social morality of their society. The early Christian communities were not about to send their children into the military to destroy the lives and countries of Samaritans and others who were their neighbors on this precious Earth.
Who are the Samaritans of today that we should love as ourselves? I'll bet they are the good people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Cuba and North Korea. I'll bet they are people of the Muslim faith, or people of no faith at all. Who are the followers of Jesus today that are persecuted in his name by the dominant system of evil that cloaks itself in the appearance of goodness and respectability?
I'll bet they include the founder of the Christian group Voices in the Wilderness, who was recently brutalized by U.S. military personnel at Fort Benning, Ga., for doing nonviolent civil disobedience against the U.S. Army School of the Americas. This top secret "school" trains foreign military in methods of torture and repression. Like economic exploitation, training in repression is another gift that our country gives to our "neighbors" in Latin America.
I see among the followers of Jesus today the three Catholic nuns in their 70s recently sentenced to federal prison for painting Christian symbols on the tip of a nuclear warhead in the Midwest. They are resisting the respectable building of more and more hideous weapons of mass destruction by the great beast of our day. I'll bet there were also many Christians among those brutally attacked by police recently in Miami. They were shot with rubber bullets, sprayed with cruel pepper spray and beaten with clubs for nonviolent witness to the evil system of economic exploitation being pushed on Latin American countries by the United States. This system is called "free trade," for evil presents itself with the appearance of respectability.
I see among the followers of Jesus the priest in New Mexico who has been preaching in his church against the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He is author of many books on Jesus' teaching of nonviolent resistance to evil and injustice. This priest recently had a platoon of military recruits jog to the street in front of his house and stand there shouting at him, chanting "kill, kill, kill."
If we want to find the followers of Jesus in our day, we need to look in the prisons, to those in shackles, to those being beaten and brutalized.
We don't have far to look. They are from all sects and churches within Christianity, but they have one thing in common: They are nonviolently resisting the system of respectability and evil. If one has any doubts about who is who, just read the gospels. Read the teachings of Jesus about how his followers are to lead their lives.
If we want to discern the great beast hiding under the cloak of social morality and respectability, look to a country that spends nearly $400 billion a year on weapons, bombs and mechanisms of destruction. If we want to discern the evil built into business as usual, look at the U.S. corporations exploiting the labor of starving people in horrible sweatshops to produce the clothing that you and I purchase as "Christmas gifts" in our local superstores. Look at the corporations firing millions from their jobs in the United States so they can move overseas to increase their profit margins.
If we want to see the apocalypse in action, look at the invasion and destruction of the Iraqi people, or the nightmare of chaos and suffering our government has forced upon the good people of Afghanistan. Evil is a system, not a person. As the Christians of Latin America say, it is a "system of sin." It is a system of people wearing suits and ties, driving fine cars and giving the appearance of the highest respectability.
In reality, it is a global system of economic and military domination and exploitation, just like the Roman Empire. Evil is a system designed to prevent us from loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. Our neighbors include every person on this Earth. The purpose of evil is to prevent the realization of the kingdom of God on Earth. For the simple command of Jesus was to "love one another as I have loved you" and to live together in peace and harmony on our common home.
There is a fitting bumper sticker that reads "God bless the whole world. No exceptions." If we are to follow the teachings of Jesus, we need to change the system that prevents this from happening.
Glen Martin is a professor of philosophy and religious studies at Radford University in Radford, Virginia.
Piestewa family assails video airing
Showing dying soldier on television called 'domestic terrorism'
Republic Flagstaff Bureau
by Mark Shaffer
Jan. 1, 2004
FLAGSTAFF - Family members of slain soldier Lori Piestewa lashed out at the media Wednesday for practicing "domestic terrorism" by televising video of the badly wounded Piestewa in an Iraqi hospital bed shortly before her death.
"This terrorism was not from any foreign group wishing to harm the United States, but from our own people wanting to make a quick buck off the misfortune of two young women," a prepared statement from the Piestewa family said of NBC's decision to air the video on its Nightly News on Tuesday. Several cable channels picked it up, but local affiliate Channel 12 (KPNX) decided not to air the footage.
The video shows a gravely wounded and unresponsive Jessica Lynch in a hospital bed next to Piestewa in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, where the Army's 507th Maintenance Company was ambushed March 23. Piestewa is shown with eyes shut and swollen and with a bandage around her head. She licks her lips as someone adjusts her head so the photographer can get a better shot of her.
"We would guess that congratulations are in order," the Piestewa family's statement said sarcastically. "The media has again successfully created a sense of fear, anxiety and hurt among the family and friends of those who loved and continue to love Lori Piestewa."
Piestewa's family has attended many memorial services and pro-military gatherings throughout the nation since Lori's death. But the statement contained some pointed anti-war criticisms of the Bush administration and military. The statement said the family hopes all top government officials get a copy of "Lori dying in agony so that they realize from the comfort of their homes that war is not the only option."
The Piestewa family also wants a copy of the tape in the hands of legislators who supported the war "because they had to make sure someone (paid) for 9/11."
The strongest criticisms were saved for commanders at Fort Bliss, Texas, where Piestewa and Lynch were stationed before their deployment to the Middle East. Each of the commanders should receive a copy of the tape "so they'll never again make the same mistake . . . and, if by chance they do, we hope they won't leave them behind to die the painful death Lori endured."