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The New Testament explicitly puts Christ in the victim role. It’s a sacrificial story like the early myths, but this time it’s told from the victim’s point of view. What happens is unmistakably unjust and nobody can pretend that Christ’s death is an appeal to God for protection. After Christ, we supposedly don’t have to go on for generation after generation, scapegoating victims to appeal to the gods. Therefore, Girard sees Christianity as the answer, but the world, of course, isn’t ready for it yet.

Remember Shirley Jackson’s short story about a quiet, peaceful New England town of good, God-fearing citizens who annually stone to death a person chosen at random in a simple lottery.

Think about all the major slaughters in the world and they come down to either a naked exercise of power to conquer and subdue an enemy, or a crusade to create a secular or religious utopia.

As Americans we’re in the former camp. We drive huge SUVs, fly eight American flags and use up a bunch of the planet’s resources. Bin Laden’s in the latter camp. His vision is a perfect world ruled by sharia law and cleansed of infidels. It’s going to take more than a teach-in or a mass visualization of world peace to reform either of these. But now, it seems to me, is no time for Americans to haul out their guilt complex over their numerous transgressions.

Sometimes the Left confuses great power (which we are) with great evil. I don’t believe the two are synonymous. What they and the current anti-war folks really don’t like is our inherent power. But there are legitimate exercises of power and illegitimate ones. Kill Hitler, get Bin Laden—good. Panama invasion, Kissinger’s Cambodia bombings—bad power. The protracted sanctions against Iraq that were killing tens of thousands were very bad, but let’s give Saddam Hussein at least 50 percent of the blame.

As theorist Jaron Lanier writes, “Perhaps we are now entering a period when tiny groups of people (the terrorists), or even individuals, routinely become powerful enough to be threats to large numbers of people. If this is so, then the original advantages of the State no longer apply.”

The alternative to a useless, behemoth State is a societal “immune system” where each one of us is a protective white blood cell. The duty of each individual is to cleanse his country on the micro level. And if that means we have to do the cleansing ourselves, we really do have a problem here, don’t we?

Posted at 5pm on 04/02/2005 | comments are closed Filed Under: Under the Lens

"The sleep of reason
brings forth monsters."

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