Republicans’ Apocalyptic Fantasies Are Now Playing Out in the Middle East
Trump is tossing a lighted match into a lagoon of gasoline.
By Charles P. Pierce May 14, 2018
More than 20 people in Gaza were dead on Monday before anyone in Washington had had their breakfast. This was pitched to the awakening nation as a series of “deadly clashes,” even though the deadly part only applied to one side. It was a great start to a day in which the president*, who doesn’t know anything about anything, prepared to toss a lighted match into a lagoon of gasoline in the Middle East.
The decision to move the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem is more unnecessary than it is stupid and dangerous, and it’s pretty stupid and dangerous. There was no overwhelming political support—and certainly no overwhelming political pressure—in this country for such a provocative development. It was solely the desire of that odd mixture of highly conservative Judaism and American splinter Protestantism, of the prolonged slow-dance between the apocalyptic factions of two major monotheisms that very likely will incite the apocalyptic faction of the third. It is religious extremism disguised as international diplomacy.
How do I know this? Well, Jared and Ivanka Trump already have met with a conservative rabbi who thinks black people are monkeys. The United States of America will be represented at the ceremony by Robert Jeffress and John Hagee, two completely batshit-insane TV preachers with long histories of supporting Israel because it allegedly will be largely set-decoration for the end times. Jesus needs some place to disembowel the forces of the Antichrist, after all. From CNN:
“Hagee, whose group is dedicated to organizing pro-Israel Christians in the United States into a unified voice, has had relationships with Israeli prime ministers dating back years. But he came under the national political spotlight in 2008 for comments that prompted then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain to reject his endorsement. During the campaign, audio from one of Hagee’s sermons in the 1990’s was leaked that seemed to suggest that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God’s will by aiding the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy. “God says in Jeremiah 16: ‘Behold, I will bring them the Jewish people again unto their land that I gave to their fathers. … Behold, I will send for many fishers, and after will I send for many hunters,'” Hagee said, according to a transcript of his sermon. “‘And they the hunters shall hunt them.’ That would be the Jews. … Then God sent a hunter. A hunter is someone who comes with a gun and he forces you. Hitler was a hunter.””
This is, of course, a completely normal view of Scripture. Around the same time, Catholics around the world undoubtedly were relieved when Hagee told them that HMC was no longer “the great whore.” I know I was. Hagee will deliver a benediction at the ceremony marking the transfer of the embassy. This is, of course, completely normal.
As for Jeffress, well, he’s been the chaplain on the Trump Train for a while now, and he also has a long record of interesting pronouncements on world religions:
“Some might remember Jeffress for his frequent condemnations of Mormonism as a “cult” during the 2012 presidential campaign and his urging of Christians not to vote for Mitt Romney, a Mormon, during the Republican primary. But Jeffress has also called Islam and Mormonism heresies “from the pit of hell,” suggested that the Catholic church was led astray by Satan, accused then-President Barack Obama of “paving the way” for the Antichrist, and spread false statistics about the prevalence of HIV among gays, who he said live a “miserable” and “filthy” lifestyle. In recent years, Jeffress has frequently denounced Islam, calling it an “evil religion” that “promotes pedophilia” because the Prophet Muhammed married a 9-year-old girl. (Many modern Muslim scholars disagree about her age.) The pastor has also said that Mormons, Muslims and Hindus “worship a false god.“”
This is, of course, a completely normal attitude toward believers in other faiths. Jeffress’s inclusion in the official U.S. travelling party—He also will mumble some prayer-like gibberish on behalf of us all—already has frosted Willard Romney’s cookies, as witnessed by Willard’s leap onto the electric Twitter machine on Monday morning:
“Robert Jeffress says “you can’t be saved by being a Jew,“ and “Mormonism is a heresy from the pit of hell.” He’s said the same about Islam. Such a religious bigot should not be giving the prayer that opens the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.”
Actually, nobody should because the embassy should stay right the hell where it is, but I take Willard’s point. Nobody likes to be told their religion comes from “the pit of hell.” Besides, I thought that was where Darwin’s theories were developed. The pit of hell apparently is a vital center of American manufacturing these days.
Every American of every faith—to say nothing of Americans who have no religious faith at all—should be embarrassed to be represented by this collection of crackpots and thooleramawns, gone off to Israel to bless an unnecessary and perilous politico-religious gambit that owes more to fringe religion and domestic Israeli politics than to any American national interest. For his part, the president* spent the morning on the electric Twitter machine plugging the Fox News coverage of this world historical event, and this is completely normal, too. For the first time in its history, the United States has entered into what is at least partly an ancient religious war. This is exactly why our Constitution is as godless as it is.