Sunday, November 15, 2009

The party of medieval romanticism

Juan Cole's supplies a larger context to the Republican resistance to trials for Gitmo inmates.

Predictably, Republican critics vowed to fight [Obama's decision to try Al Qaeda detainees in New York District Court], since they much prefer to hold people forever without trial while torturing them, sort of the way some English kings did in North America before there was that pesky American constitution.

In fact, on a whole range of issues, the contemporary Republican Party is a party of medieval romanticism. Its disquisitions on when the human person begins are theological in character and rooted in assumptions even a lot of medievals would have questioned.

Its faith that bankers would never steal from us and so do not need to be regulated is a form of mysticism that medievals would have applied to saints. And its fascination with arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and with torture more recalls the star chambers of yore than the deliberations at Philadelphia over 200 years ago. |The Only Anchor - Informed Comment|

I'd never really thought of the Republicans as being this reactionary, but Professor Cole makes an interesting connection here.

Ever since George Bush characterized the Iraq War as a crusade, I've wondered how many of the more fundamentalist Christian members of the US Armed Forces view our actions in the Middle East as a modern day crusade.

A few days after [September 11, 2001], George W. Bush... [s]peaking spontaneously, without the aid of advisers or speechwriters [described] "This crusade," he said, "this war on terrorism."


I remember a momentary feeling of vertigo at the President's use of that word, the outrageous ineptitude of it.

The vertigo lifted, and what I felt then was fear, sensing not ineptitude but exactitude.

My thoughts went to the elusive Osama bin Laden, how pleased he must have been, Bush already reading from his script...

Contrary to schoolboy romances, Hollywood fantasies and the nostalgia of royalty, the Crusades were a set of world-historic crimes. I hear the word with a third ear, alert to its dangers, and I see through its legends to its warnings.

For example, in Iraq "insurgents" have lately shocked the world by decapitating hostages, turning the most taboo of acts into a military tactic. But a thousand years ago, Latin crusaders used the severed heads of Muslim fighters as missiles, catapulting them over the fortified walls of cities under siege. Taboos fall in total war, whether crusade or jihad. |The Bush Crusade - Alternet|

Putting heads on pikes and using them in catapults, now those were the good ol' days!

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