George W. Bush took a lot of heat for referring to the fight against terrorism — especially of the Islamic fundamentalist sort — as a “crusade.” Some Muslims reacted badly to that; for them the word “crusade” means “the series of western European military expeditions, ordered or endorsed by the Popes, which attacked the Middle East during the Middle Ages,” and thus carries a specific, and very-religious, connotation. (This is, of course, not a reasonable association, since the Crusades have been over for centuries, and the war on terrorism does not carry the Roman Catholic Church’s approval.) In the English-speaking world, the word “crusade” carries a much more generic and non-religious meaning; stern prosecutors, for example, might he referred to as “crusaders for justice.” So it might have been natural to view Bush’s use of that word in its generic — and decidedly secular — sense.

Of course, we all know that Bush was a religious man. Very religious. Obviously religious. In 1999, for example, he declared Jesus to have been his favorite political philosopher (even though Jesus himself disavowed politics utterly). He could hardly open his mouth without “God” or “Christ” coming out of it.

Well, it turns out that perhaps he had been viewing “the war on terror” as a religious expedition. GQ, of all outlets, reports that Donald Rumsfeld seasoned his intelligence reports to his hyperreligious president with Bible quotations (GQ has materials on its Web site, and this Boston Herald story explains it):

One passage plucked from the New Testament’s Epistle to the Ephesians instructs believers to “put on the full armor of God.” An excerpt from the Old Testament’s Isaiah directs them to “open the gates that the righteous nation may enter.”

As American soldiers fought in Iraq in 2003, these biblical verses and others reportedly prefaced intelligence reports approved by then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. …

First reported last week by Robert Draper, author of “Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush,” dozens of biblical passages accompanied by images of soldiers knelt in prayer or marching across the desert adorned the covers of classified documents prepared for Rumsfeld and Bush. Although they have strongly defended the decision to go to war in Iraq, neither Bush nor Rumsfeld has commented on the GQ report.

Religious pundits have been quick to declare that Rumsfeld used these Bible quotations “improperly”:

Several clergy members say many of the biblical quotations used to condone war were distorted when taken out of context. Ephesians, for example, makes clear the armor of God refers to the virtues of truth, justice and peace.

It’s not just Bush and Rumsfeld who viewed the struggle as a religious mandate, as the Herald goes on to explain:

In 2005, Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, then-deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence, compared the war against Islamic militants to a battle against Satan.

It turns out there was a religious subtext running behind the war, within the halls of power in Washington. Now, rather than just a couple of quotations (i.e. Bush’s “crusade” reference and Boykin’s “Satan” remark). GQ has added documentation that shows it was more extensive than that.

You know, it’s a bit odd that the Religious Right in the US is so bothered by the jihad or “holy war” concept to which the Islamic fundamentalists cling. They believe themselves to be “above” that. Unfortunately, some of them have been caught expressing an eerily similar sentiment. Could it be, they’re being hypocritical?

Answer: Yes, damn right they are! Hypocritical to the core!

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.