From Bachmann to Breivik

August 7, 2011

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The lawyer for Norwegian, Anders Breivik, the world’s latest mass killer, says his client appears to be insane. I’d be comforted if Breivik was classically insane. Devastating as such psychotic episodes are there are other more troubling insanities that scare the hell out of me. These days insanities are so prolific and mainstream it’s like taking a stroll down the cereal aisle of a supermarket. We need new insanity about as much as we need a new permutation of Coco Puffs.

If Breivik’s tragic, murderous insanity has to do with a physical or chemical flaw in his brain it would be no less tragic but much easier to come to grips with than if it turns out to be political insanity. If it’s political or religious insanity its ruthlessness and potential for havoc becomes more pronounced and contagious.

My guess is Breivik is about insane as a faith fanatic of any religion. For example, a Scientologist only sounds uniquely off the wall until you get a load of what’s spewing these days from the U.S. Congress, presidential candidates and media outlets. In Washington and many State Houses insanity’s the new normal.

Unreason comes in many styles and colors. It’s both very cool and fashionably retro. True-believing irrationality may look comfortably home-spun on someone until its seams split and its camouflage falls apart leaving it wild-eyed and naked with an assault rifle in it hands —or until it stands at a podium in the shape of Michelle Bachmann.

Lunacy such as Breivik’s cannot be satisfied with an appeal to humanity. Humanity cuts no ice with ideological missionaries of any stripe. Islam is not unique in this. The news photo of white-Christian Breivik smiling absently from the window of a cop car after slaughtering dozens of children with dum-dum bullets should be enough to prove that. I’ll take classical psychosis any day to the everyday, scripture-twisting kind practiced by purist true-believers.

In Breivik terms, Norway’s not that far from the USA. It’s not a stretch to suggest the Republican Party has become a sort of cult, though this would be denied by its mouthpieces. Republican adherence to doctrine is called by the faithful “standing-on-principle”, but viewed from the outside, it looks like a mob of zealots pounding bibles and waiving the constitution, longing to evict infidels (“liberals” they call them) from the DC holy-of-holies and purge the nation of unbelief to pave the way for the New American Jerusalem.

You think I’m being hyperbolic?  Well, take Michelle Bachmann. As Matt Taibbi said recently in Rolling Stone, “In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you’ve always got a puncher’s chance. And Bachmann is exactly the right kind of … crazy. Not medically crazy, not talking-to-herself-on-the-subway crazy, but grandiose crazy … crazy in the sense that she’s living completely inside her own mind …  unable to meaningfully communicate with the human beings on the other side of the moat, who are all presumed to be enemies.”

Of course she’s zoned in perfectly on the contemporary strain of American politics that doesn’t believe in America or the American idea: the idea that America is not an exclusive club belonging to fundamental Christians; that America’s greatness is in its past rejection of exclusivity, that it has been, until now, pluralistic.

Having graduated from the law school of Oral Roberts University (of which 60% of graduates fail the bar exam) Bachmann, as Taibbi points out, has gone on to practice the fundamentals of her alma mater which is to be a “change agent” who would help bring the law more in line with “eternal principles of justice.”  If you think that has anything to do with the U.S. Constitution you’d better adjust your expectations. What Oral Roberts U is talking about is biblical morality. The kind that excludes people like your gay niece, nephew, sister, child or brother from the niceties of liberty and freedom of expression.

For instance, without having a rational leg to stand on, the Bachman Clinic would strive to cure your loved ones of what, for all they know, is a god-given inclination to love someone of their own sex. The “clinic” of Bachmann and her husband has nothing to do with science, it’s based on scripture written at a time people of faith were burying adulterers to their necks and stoning them to death.

Do not be fooled by Bachmann. Based on her history and her utterances she would love to run the country as a church.  That’s the craziness that scares the hell out of me. On a national scale Michelle Bachmann’s kind of craziness is one step closer to that of Anders Breivik; the kind that would finally destroy what it means to be American.

Michelle Bachmann would have us pray ourselves out of economic and social decline as we typically pray for victory in war, adhering to guidelines set down by Moses and Paul, attuned to the exclusivity of religious fascists like John (Hurricane-Katrina-was-the-judgment-of-God-against-New Orleans) Hagee.

 Bachmann would have us pray for deliverance as our enemies simultaneously pray for our defeat. But we can only hope that god is not fool enough to be confused by the conflicting interests as left or right, Muslim or Christian.

John Steinbeck made a brilliant observation in his book Tortilla Flat.  He said, ”Ah, the prayers of the millions, how they must fight and destroy each other on their way to the throne of God.”

Such prayers in politics are red herrings in the struggle have-nots must chronically endure to have a little. Jesus in his teaching, made it clear where he stood in that struggle. It had nothing to do with any religion.

by Jim Culleny
for the Greenfield Recorder, 8/7/11

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