Saturday, August 08, 2009

Gog and Magog

Suspending My Disbelief!

I don't involve myself in fringe politics or conspiracy theories. You won't find me discussing the pros and cons of troofers, birthers, deathers, Holocaust deniers, UFO abductees, Atlantean Conspiracy theorists, and the like. So I'm not altogether feeling good about introducing this evening's column by saying I don't effing believe half of what follows. I've seen the words in Google headlines for the last week maybe, but never bit on reading anything beneath the headlines until I saw the always level-headed Juan Cole devoting a few column inches to it. Looking around further, I have finally decided I have to suspend my disbelief, and at least air this for the hysterical historical record.

Gog et Magog concerns a brief event alleged to have occurred leading up to Bush and Cheney's illegal invasion of Iraq. It seems that with less than a month before his invasion, in February 2003, George Bush phoned up French President Jacques Chirac in a last ditch effort to get the French to join the "Coalition of the Willing". In itself, that's not news to any one.

What's new and news, to me any how, was Bush's argument. According to an interview Chirac gave French journalist Jean-Claude Maurice and included Maurice's Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai published only this year, Bush argued that
Gog and Magog are at work in the Middle East…. The biblical prophecies are being fulfilled…. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins...
My Biblical literacy is less than most of my readers, or I would have recognized this reference from The Book of Revelations. Chirac, the story goes, did not give a thought about complying with Bush and joing in with the invasion. Instead he was stunned as to "how someone so superficial and fanatical in their beliefs" could be the head of a modern state. Apparently Chirac's Bibilical scholarship was challenged too, for he had his staff consult Thomas Romer, a theologian at the University of Lausanne, who analyzed Bush's weird appeal.

In addition to the New Testament passage, Dr. Romer explained that the Old Testament book of Ezekiel contains two chapters in which God rages against Gog and Magog, sinister and mysterious forces menacing Israel. Jehovah vows to smite them savagely, to “turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws,” and slaughter them ruthlessly.

Dr. Romer recounted Bush’s strange behavior in Lausanne University’s review, Allez Savoir in 2007. A French-language Swiss newspaper, Le Matin Dimanche, printed a sarcastic account titled: “When President George W. Bush Saw the Prophesies of the Bible Coming to Pass.” France’s La Liberte likewise spoofed it under the headline “A Small Scoop on Bush, Chirac, God, Gog and Magog.”

But the story has largely been hidden by the ever-discrete MSM, presumably as part of their code of silence which preserves professional secrets among statesmen. After all, Si Vous le Répétez, Je Démentirai translates as "if you repeat it, I will deny it."

In these pages, I have been accused of being afflicted with Bush Derangement. I'm not sure what exactly that means. Certainly it can be said that, in attributing responsibility for all of the calamities which have afflicted upon my once great country in this young 21st Century, I have never given George Bush the benefit of doubt.

But the thought that Bush was motivated to invade Iraq because he was stricken with a couple of Biblical passages, strains even my credulity. I guess you could say that, like Andrew Sullivan, I am left agog.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell

Neighbors in my hood are very discrete.

People never ask me about who comes to visit. And, of course I would never ask my next door neighbor about her overnight guests.... What would be the point?

She would never tell.

Besides, what could she say?