Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Problem of "God On Our Side"

The Not So Quiet American
Slavoj Zizek
In These Times

It is the United States that is now, as the defunct USSR was decades ago, the subversive agent of a world revolution. When Bush said, “Freedom is not America’s gift to the world, it is the almighty God’s gift to every man and woman in the world,” his apparent modesty nonetheless concealed, in the best totalitarian fashion, its very opposite.

Recall the standard claim of a totalitarian leader that he himself is nothing at all—his strength is only the strength of the people who stand behind him, he only expresses their deepest strivings. The catch, of course, is that those who oppose the leader do not only oppose him, but also oppose the deepest and noblest strivings of the people. And does the same not hold for Bush’s claim? If freedom effectively were to be just America’s gift to other nations, things would have been much easier—those opposing U.S. policy would be doing just that, opposing the policy of the United States as a single nation state. However, if freedom is God’s gift to humanity (and—herein resides the hidden proviso—if the United States perceives itself as the chosen instrument for distributing this divine gift to all the nations of the world), then those who oppose U.S. policy are eo ipso rejecting the noblest gift of God to humanity. No wonder many authentic theologians are appalled by these kinds of statements from Bush, detecting in them a terrifying sacrilege.

Entire Essay

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