Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mixing religious fanaticism with war

Arash Kamangeer, and Iranian-American who remembers the Iran-Iraq War well, mentions one of the propaganda devices that the Iranian government used and sees some eerie parallels with Sarah Palin's rhetoric as we've learned in the last few days:

One of the problems the government faced was opposition from legions of mothers whose sons had been maimed or died in the war. To confront this problem, the government-controlled TV would parade a mother whose son had died in the war in front of the TV on a regular basis. Invariably, this "show mom" would be carrying an infant child and a few other siblings with her. And invariably, she would say something to the effect that "I have given one child to this 'sacred' war, and I am ready to give the next one." Almost always, there would be an adoring crowd who would follow her statements by chants of "Allaho-Akbar" (God is Great). And again invariably, her statements would follow by a not-so-veiled threat from her and the adoring crowd. She would say something like "I and my family would not tolerate traitors and betrayals to the faith and country". Then the crowd would break into several standard chants such as "Death to traitors" or "War, war, until victory."

Sarah Palin was much better dressed than the average show mom paraded on Iranian TV more than 20 years ago. The show moms were typically dressed in a black veil. But that’s about the biggest difference. The rhetoric was eerily familiar. When she was finished, I knew I had seen her before. Only that it wasn’t her. It was her ideological predecessors at a different time in a different country.


And then I wake the next morning and read that Sarah Palin is quoted as saying that the Iraq war is a "task that is from God." It’s like déjà-vu all over again.
There is actually another important difference between Palin and the "show moms" appearing on Iranian TV during the 1980s: Palin is actually a career politician who for now is a rising star in right-wing extremist circles. I am not sure if the tendency for despots to dress up war in religious imagery is unique to the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) - I suspect it isn't - but the phenomenon sure seems to happen too often for comfort. What Palin has been saying about the Iraq War is not much different than what Bush the Lesser has been known to say about the War on Terra. Both Palin and Bush the Lesser have made plenty of hay about their Dominionist credentials. And yes, there is a striking similarity to what Christian fundamentalists use as rhetoric to support the current destructive wars and the rhetoric used by Muslim fundamentalists use to support their wars against their enemies. Of course there is also the cynical use of children as stage props, but that seems to be politics as usual. Get past the superficial differences - our fundies might prefer powers suits whereas theirs prefer veils, and ours may shout "Maranatha" whereas theirs might shout "Allah be praised" - and it's basically the same sorry song and dance.

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