Published on Sunday, May 13, 2001 in the Toronto Star
Bush Likes to Think God's On His Side
This 'Champion' of Life Could Well Bring the Apocalyptic End to Everything
by Tom Harpur
GEORGE W. BUSH, already nicknamed the ``Toxic Texan'' by Greenpeace for the numerous pro-corporation, anti-environmental decisions of his first 100 days, is also quickly proving himself to be a major hypocrite.
It is sad enough that Bush wraps himself and his administration so thoroughly in the American flag - with both domestic and foreign policy founded wholly on ``America first.'' Far worse is the deliberate strategy of involving God and God-talk in every key decision or speech.
Mixing politics and religion has long been an American tradition. This time, it stinks.
Apparently, Bush is happy. ``Whatever the reasons, I'm enjoying myself,'' he recently told reporters. And he thinks he's ``doing a pretty darn good'' job so far. To CNN, he said he feels ``free and relaxed . . . I feel comfortable.'' He then mused: ``Perhaps that's because I'm on bended knee every morning asking for guidance and for comfort.''
The implication is that the Almighty is responsible not only for Bush's cocky moods and healthy constitution, but also for every policy he endorses, no matter how unjust, planet-despoiling or hazardous to world peace.
One doesn't have to look far to find scores of examples of this idiocy. In a single issue of The Toronto Star - Friday, April 27 - there were two striking articles that cried out for analysis or comment.
The first was a news story (Fetus called human being in U.S. bill on violence) about Republican-sponsored legislation called the Unborn Victims of Violence Act. The bill (which still must pass the U.S. Senate before becoming law) would make it a federal crime to harm a fetus during a violent criminal attack on a pregnant woman.
That makes sense to many people. The real problem lies in how the act then defines what a fetus is. It says a fetus is ``a member of the species homo sapiens, at any stage of development (italics mine), who is carried in the womb.''
The lengthy debate around this vote brought out the anti-abortion agenda of most of those Republicans supporting it. Opponents rightly argued, however, that even though the bill exempts abortions performed with the woman's full consent, once you define a fetus ``at any stage'' in such a generalized manner, the way lies open for further court challenges to the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision and to the eventual abolition of a woman's free choice.
Obviously, we're not all going to agree about abortion. The clincher in this story was the comment made afterward by Bush. His anti-abortion mutterings have quickly moved to an action mode in these early days. So, naturally, he was heartily in favour of the new bill. He said: ``It affirms our commitment to a culture of life, which welcomes and protects children.''
Keep in mind these words about protecting a ``culture of life'' and his concern about protecting children. In a moment, we'll be asking: Whose life? Whose children?
The second Star article was the lead editorial, Feeding China's fears, a concise summary of Bush's foreign policy toward China as it has been cobbled together in his first 100 days.
Reading it made one sharply aware of just how potentially deadly for all of us are those little chats with the Deity the president has each morning on bended knee.
During a TV interview a few days previously, Bush was asked whether the U.S. has an obligation to defend Taiwan against attack from mainland China.
``Yes, we do,'' he said. ``And the Chinese must understand that.''
He was then asked whether he would ``be prepared to use the full force of American military.''
``Whatever it took to help Taiwan defend herself,'' he replied.
These are most chilling words for the world to hear. This is what his Christian-inspired brand of faith is prepared to do: risk a nuclear holocaust in which millions - including babies yet unborn and hosts of others in the true ``culture of life'' - would be radiated, burned and obliterated.
And all of that to defend an island that most of the world agrees is already part of one China.
Later the same day, lest anybody should think the president was indulging in a little Texan shoot-from-the-hip blather, and after due consultation with his handlers, Bush stuck by his original threat.
``Nothing has really changed in policy, as far as I'm concerned,'' he said. ``This is what other presidents have said and I will continue to say so.''
At this point, Bush was exhibiting not just the stark violence of his China policy but also his monotonous ignorance of basic facts. Small wonder he is forced to accuse the media of ``misunderestimating'' him. There is less there than there seems.
Truth is, as the editorial noted, no previous U.S. president has ever implied, even vaguely, that he would ``drop the Big One'' because of Taiwan. He may be feeling good, but George W. Bush has made a great many thinking people feel worse than they have for years about prospects for global justice and peace.
His recent decision to dump the 1972 Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty and proceed with a missile shield dubbed ``Son of Star Wars'' does nothing to help.
In baiting China, this ``champion'' of life could well bring the apocalyptic end to everything his co-religionists so earnestly expect.
Tom Harpur is a theologian and author whose books focus on spiritual growth.
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