February 3, 2003

Never mind the antiwar movement's marginal elements – our warmongers have their own nutballs to explain.

We've heard much about the "radicalism" of the antiwar movement, even as it becomes more mainstream. The War Party focuses on the most marginal elements in an effort to characterize the movement as kooky. This is not only a smear, but an effort to divert attention away from the essential craziness of their own movement, the religious fundamentalist sources of pro-war sentiment in this country.

You want pro-war kooks? Then try this Washington Post article on for size: ". . . And Armageddon Tops the Bestseller List." It's all about the "Left Behind" novels, by evangelist Tim LaHaye and writer Jerry Jenkins, that sell like hot-cakes here in the Vale of Modernity:

"Come spring, many Americans will turn their attention to the battle of Armageddon. Whether or not it coincides with an actual war in the Persian Gulf, "Armageddon," the 11th entry in the best-selling series … will appear in stores April 8. Almost certainly, it will debut as No. 1 on bestseller lists – as have each of the last four "Left Behind" books. This time, the most popular adult fiction series in recent memory is going to war – a cosmic battle between good and evil that will pit Satan himself, who rules the world from New Babylon, Iraq, against Israel and its Christian allies."

Let's be clear about the theme and context of these "novels": they're all about how God is going to "rapture" up into the sky all those trailer park "Christians" who give money to Pat Robertson. The rest of us depraved sinners will be left behind. But not before all the world's Jews are gathered together in Israel, where the great battle of Armageddon is supposed to take place – signaling the End of History (Francis Fukuyama, take note!) and the Return of Christ the King. According to the "dispensationalist" con men who preach this clap-trap, Israel will take the place of the Church on earth, and a new "dispensation" (or era) will be inaugurated, as mankind approaches the "End Times."

And they say the Muslims are mired in "medievalism"!

Millions of Americans believe this pitiful nonsense. They pine for a nuclear Armageddon because it will fulfill their "prophecies." They ignore the national interests of their own country, and worship at the altar of Israel, functioning as a far more effective – and dangerous – fifth column than any commie "conspiracy" ever did. They are worse than Aum Shinrikyo, that nutball Japanese cult that unleashed sarin gas in the Tokyo subway, not only because they are more numerous, but because they are a potent political force in the U.S., and practically dominate the Republican party.

It's pathetic, really, to read the sniping smears of the War Party, who are trying to tar the antiwar movement with the "Communist" brush – what about their nutballs?! What about Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, who called the 9/11 attacks "God's punishment" because all us evil queers have been partying like it's … the end of the world? This is not some marginal sect, with less than a few hundred members, like the Workers World Party, which so much has been made of, but a mass friggin' movement, one that forms the heart and soul of the War Party.

The followers of a genocidal "Christian" heresy, who number in the millions, are determined to drive their country into World War IV. They just can't wait for that mushroom cloud to billow up over the horizon – and we're supposed to worry about a couple of dozen Communists whose ideology is about as relevant as phrenology?

God, I just love the restrained tone of the Washington Post writer, who avers: "The timing may be perfect for the publisher, but disconcerting for others." To say the least! "Just as Europe's literature of the horrors of war has fostered pacifism and war wariness there," the Post reports, "these novels must be influencing the American view of war today."

The Europeans, in other words, have been shaped by their experience. They have gone through two world wars and the threat of a third, having lost millions of lives and seen their civilization practically destroyed. This has shaped an outlook that might be described as more patient than "pacifist," one that sees the gradual evolution and spread of the rule of law and civil society throughout the world, rather than via some radical eruption of moral righteousness. We, on the other hand, are shaped in our attitudes toward war not by recent experience but by the worst sort of pulp fiction: a cheap novel authored by a couple of religious fanatics whose moral universe is steeped in the same obscurantist mindset as Osama bin Laden's.

The thesis of Samuel Huntington is much bruited about, especially by our war birds, who claim that this is a "civilizational" war, pitting the Western values of democracy, modernity, and cultural diversity against the authoritarian medievalism that supposedly characterizes the Muslim world. But obviously the real civilizational war is going on right here at home, between our war-maddened Rapturists and the rest of the American people, religious and non-religious alike.

It is not an overstatement to describe the Rapturists as crazed. They live, after all, in a world peopled by hallucinations. They see everything as a portent, an ominous confirmation of their elaborate fantasy life: every time Ariel Sharon farts, they breathe it in with gusto, convinced that it represents the fulfillment of some prophecy regarding the "sacred" land of Israel. In their nightmare view of human existence, the immolation of the world in a bath of nuclear fire is an event to be anticipated with joy, not horror. These are the initiates of a death cult, just as surely as any suicide bomber.

If this is "Christianity," then I say: Hail, Satan!

Fortunately, the real Christians in this country, represented not only by the Vatican, of course, but also by the National Council of Churches and the mainstream Protestant denominations – including dispensationalists who disagree emphatically with the Armageddonites – reject this dangerous "Christian jihadism," as the Post calls it. And their voices are now being heard, much to the dismay and even panic of the War Party. The Catholic Church recently slapped the Italian defense minister on the wrist for jumping on the bandwagon for war, and the National Council of Churches is a key component of the United for Peace campaign, which has become the fulcrum of antiwar activism in the U.S.

As I pointed out in my piece on the antiwar movement in the Feb. 8 issue of The American Conservative – hey, it's out now, and already making waves (scroll down) – the opposition to World War IV is going way beyond the Left. This has the War Party in a panic, and they have deployed their Smear Brigade in full force.

Accuracy in Media was first out of the gate with a critique of my article, and, no, they didn't like it. Somebody with the made-up sounding name of Cliff Kincaid penned a screed stupidly entitled "Antiwar Conservatives?" As if he would even be writing about them if they didn't exist. Since Kincaid's outfit is so concerned with "accuracy," then let them take a look at the numbers: A recent Gallup poll shows nearly thirty percent of self-identified conservatives oppose invading Iraq. A minority, yes, but an articulate and increasingly vocal one.

This is precisely what scares Kincaid and the brigade of neocon smear artists like David Horowitz, Ronald Radosh, and the P. J. O'Rourke wannabes over at National Review. Their strategy is to caricature the antiwar movement as a bunch of far-out lefties, Iraqi spies, and burnt-out hippies, but they are generals fighting the last war. A Republican businessman and contributor to the Bush campaign recently shelled out $170,000 to pay for a full-page antiwar ad in the Wall Street Journal. And what about all those soccer moms waving American flags on January 18? I was not the only observer to note that the most popular slogan was "Peace is Patriotic."

Kincaid quotes my criticism of the Workers World Party-controlled A.N.S.W.E.R. group, and cites "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore" as proof that I "flip-flopped" by calling for "All Out on January 18." But the whole point was that the January 18 event, as I anticipated, would be so big as to overshadow the organizers, a signal that the antiwar movement had outgrown the Left. A.N.S.W.E.R. has been undone by their own success. The hundreds of thousands who demonstrated all over the country, on January 18, did so on account of the President's escalating war rhetoric, not because of anything coming from the organizers of the event. No one could even hear the speeches in Washington and especially San Francisco, that day, anyway: that's how big the crowds were.

Kincaid acknowledges that groups like the National Council of Churches are now taking the lead in the new United for Peace group, but, according to him, they, too, are Commie stooges. As proof, he points to their alleged support for "a communist-run conference on 'liberation struggles' in southern Africa." Opposing apartheid, it seems, makes one a "communist."

Kincaid cites some neocon front group, the "Institute on Religion and Democracy" – virtually all these neocon outfits have the word "Democracy" in their titles, just like the commies used to refer to their "Democratic Peoples Republics" – descrying the NCC's contention that we are seeing "a rise of militarism under President Bush." Why, only a commie would say that – right? Never mind that only a catatonic could deny it. The NCC has also noted that "the war on terrorism has 'sacrificed' principles of 'justice, fairness and accountability.'" No doubt that commie Phyllis Schlafly and that left-wing radical Bob Barr would agree. Another crime of the NCC is that it challenges the radical increase in military spending, which puts it in the same league as the Cato Institute, the Democratic congressional caucus, and even the "cheap hawk" faction of the GOP. Off with their heads!

Kincaid's tiresome tirade notes my efforts to transform the leadership of the antiwar movement, and makes this prediction:

"Raimondo will fail. He won't succeed because the communists are hard workers and started this movement. Their alliance with radical American Muslims is strong, firm, impressive and obviously dangerous."

Fortunately, the transformation of the antiwar movement doesn't depend on little old me. If it did, we'd really be in trouble. It isn't me who is driving the movement's exponential growth, broadening it beyond the dubious categories of "left" and "right" – it is the President of the United States, who has embarked on a crazed course for war no matter how many times the Iraqis try to surrender. What is driving this transformation is that decent people, the world over, no matter what their politics, aren't fooled by the crude propaganda coming out of this administration: our friends and allies abroad, Democrats and Republicans at home, all want to avoid a catastrophe in the Middle East. Antiwar sentiment goes way beyond the organized antiwar movement, and that is what has the War Party tossing and turning at night….

"Another problem for Raimondo is that there's just not that many right-wing opponents of the war willing to overlook the crazies, kooks and hate-America zealots. I don't know how many libertarians and anti-war 'conservatives' marched in San Francisco, but I saw less than ten identified as such who were at the Washington event."

How the heck does Kincaid know what the politics of the tens of thousands of antiwar protestors are? Is he a mind-reader? So he went around photographing the banners of each and every obscure leftist outfit that showed up on January 18 – big friggin' deal. And, speaking of kooks….

When I saw this article and looked at the byline, I remembered where I had heard Kincaid's name before: he interviewed me on his radio program during the Kosovo war, a war he opposed. I remember the interview because it was so ... weird. Kincaid kept talking about "the Insiders" (it sounded like he was capitalizing it...) and, finally, after the third or fourth reference to a mysterious "cabal" that was supposedly behind the Kosovo war, I asked him what the heck he was talking about. I can't recall his exact words, but it was clear, from what he said, that he meant A Certain Ethnic Group – he was trying to get me to agree that the Jews were behind the "globalist conspiracy" to drag us into war! I don't remember his exact words, but that was the definite implication of his remarks. My reaction was pure revulsion. I thought, for a moment, that I should just hang up the phone, and cut his hate-fest short. But that would've been rude, so, instead, I told him I thought he was full of baloney, and the interview soon came to a merciful end.

You want pro-war kooks? You want real haters? Here's the "Justin Raimondo Watch" page of the Jewish Defense League website. The JDL is a terrorist organization famous for its bombings as well as ordinary street thuggery: their most recent terrorist escapade involved a plot by their nutball leader and an accomplice to bomb a southern California mosque and the office of Congressman Darrell Issa. JDL leader Irv Rubin committed suicide in jail: his accomplice has pled guilty. Take a good look at the filth peddled by these people. Not to mention the rich fantasy life they seem to enjoy, as evidenced by their wholly fictional portrayal of the most mundane details of my life.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention Richard Poe's curious piece, accusing me, in effect, of sedition. The target of his ire is a recent column, entitled "Listen Up, Soldier," that, according to Poe amounts to "reckless incitement" of the military against Bush's rush to war. And this isn't the first time I've been guilty of a crime punishable, by 20 years in prison and a $10,000
fine: he reminds readers that, during the fracas over the Florida vote count, I "urged soldiers to come out of their barracks," and, presumably, take the White House. The truth is that I did no such thing, either then or now. What I wrote, when the Democrats were disqualifying three out of four military ballots on technicalities, was this:

"Should the military just shut up and take it? Clearly, the answer must be an emphatic no. Soldiers are citizens, too, and if they fail in that aspect of their duties then they have failed the test of their vocation. At this crucial moment in our history, a turning point – and not for the better – Americans in uniform could play a key role and an entirely legitimate and constitutional one, merely by exercising their First Amendment right to free speech."

And that is it. No tanks in the streets, no Seven Days in May: just soldiers exercising their God-given right to free speech. U.S. soldiers are American citizens: they aren't slaves. They have the right to participate in the democratic process, and, most specifically, to vote. They also have the right to speak out on the issues of the day, especially those that involve their own lives: this is guaranteed by the Constitution, a document that has been over-ridden, in many respects, but not completely abolished. In "Listen Up, Soldier," I did directly address U.S. military personnel, urging them to read the comments of General Norman Schwarzkopf, General Anthony Zinni, and other high-ranking officers critical of our warmongering chicken-hawks. If referring my readers to this material is sedition, then so are the opinions of Schwarzkopf, Zinni, et al. Why not accuse them, too?

I knew, while I was writing that column, that somebody would charge me with "sedition." Too bad it was only Richard Poe, the former editor of David Horowitz's Frontpage website, and not the Attorney General of the United States.

C'mon, you guys: make my day!

– Justin Raimondo

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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard.

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