One thing I've been doing constantly over the last two years is revising my notions of good and evil, right and wrong, etc. It's amazing how many shades of gray shine through the cracks of these ideas. I don't quite have a definition down yet, but reading this today certainly added another horrifying element to my evolving definition of evil.
The Pentagon office that proposed spying electronically on Americans to monitor potential terrorists has a new experiment. It is an online futures trading market, disclosed today by critics, in which anonymous speculators would bet on forecasting terrorist attacks, assassinations and coups.
One of the two senators, Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota, said the idea seemed so preposterous that he had trouble persuading people it was not a hoax. "Can you imagine," Mr. Dorgan asked, "if another country set up a betting parlor so that people could go in — and is sponsored by the government itself — people could go in and bet on the assassination of an American political figure?"
After Mr. Dorgan and his fellow critic, Ron Wyden of Oregon, spoke out, the Pentagon sought to play down the importance of a program for which the Bush administration has sought $8 million through 2005. The White House also altered the Web site so that the potential events to be considered by the market that were visible earlier in the day at www.policyanalysismarket.org could no longer be seen.
At least they have the grace to be embarrassed which doesn't change the fact that they are all going to hell.
I wonder of this stuff easier to swallow if the idealogues behind it weren't part of the holier-than-thou faction of neocons and fundamentalists. If you really send your head a-spinning finish that piece and then read this one.
Since the attacks on New York, this notion of America the divine has been extended and refined. In December 2001, Rudy Giuliani, the mayor of that city, delivered his last mayoral speech in St Paul's Chapel, close to the site of the shattered twin towers. "All that matters," he claimed, "is that you embrace America and understand its ideals and what it's all about. Abraham Lincoln used to say that the test of your Americanism was ... how much you believed in America. Because we're like a religion really. A secular religion." The chapel in which he spoke had been consecrated not just by God, but by the fact that George Washington had once prayed there. It was, he said, now "sacred ground to people who feel what America is all about". The United States of America no longer needs to call upon God; it is God, and those who go abroad to spread the light do so in the name of a celestial domain. The flag has become as sacred as the Bible; the name of the nation as holy as the name of God. The presidency is turning into a priesthood.
So those who question George Bush's foreign policy are no longer merely critics; they are blasphemers, or "anti-Americans". Those foreign states which seek to change this policy are wasting their time: you can negotiate with politicians; you cannot negotiate with priests. The US has a divine mission, as Bush suggested in January: "to defend ... the hopes of all mankind", and woe betide those who hope for something other than the American way of life.
Perhaps this is the answer. They don't see the wrongness in what they do because a divine mission by definition cannot be evil. So there is nothing wrong with taking bets on terror because it is part of the mission to stop terrorism.
I'm going home and hiding under the covers.