April 14, 2004

Shock: Bush annoys me by talking about God.

Posted by Arcane Gazebo at April 14, 2004 11:50 AM

I was unable to watch the press conference last night, and have therefore been reading the blogs to find out what I missed. Kevin Drum gave out awards, including this one:

Best performance: The second to last question. "I also have this belief, strong belief, that freedom is not this country's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world." He was genuinely animated and seemingly full of conviction on this one.

I find it very disturbing that Bush seems most full of conviction when making an assertion which is manifestly false: Freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. Thinking about that for about two seconds, one wonders why vast numbers of men and women don't seem to have actually received this gift. Surely any being worthy of the appellation "Almighty" would have no difficulty freeing people from authoritarian regimes via divine intervention, and as this has yet to occur, Bush's statement is rather overly generous.

So what does Bush's conviction about an obvious falsehood tell us? I can think of a few possibilities:

  1. (Most likely) Bush hasn't really thought about this very carefully, and just likes the sound of it. Plus the base likes to hear him say "Almighty".

  2. (Disturbing) Bush sees himself as God's agent in delivering the gift of freedom. This would explain why he couldn't admit that he had made mistakes.

  3. (Probably not) Bush has in mind something like an analogy to the Christian notion of salvation through Jesus. Many Christians would describe salvation as "Almighty's gift to every man and woman in the world" where in fact it is only given to every Christian man and woman. Freedom may be the same kind of "gift" in that one actually has to satisfy some divinely mandated conditions to receive it. Under this view those people who don't have freedom must just be doing something wrong.

What really bothers me is that describing freedom as a divine gift neatly ignores the fact that the freedoms we enjoy today are due to previous generations fighting and dying for them, and these freedoms could slip away again if we aren't careful. It's not something that just falls from the sky.

Tags:
Comments

What is a "perfect world" scenario for you, Travis?

Posted by: Tracy | April 14, 2004 12:27 PM

Hm. In a perfect world, people don't feel the need to impose their will upon others, and so institutions aren't even needed to defend freedom. And I'd like a pony.

In reality, freedom is such a rare and precious quantity because of the fundamental darkness of the human soul. It's the natural tendency of people to want to control, to silence speech they don't like, to make their religious beliefs into law. I think we can overcome the natural evil of humanity, but it won't be easy, and no god's going to do it for us.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | April 14, 2004 1:53 PM

"In a perfect world, people don't feel the need to impose their will upon others . . . It's the natural tendency of people to want to control, to silence speech they don't like . . ."

Hm. Now, I'm not disgreeing with you as far as people imposing their religious beliefs on others, but based on what you said above, isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?

Posted by: Tracy | April 14, 2004 3:44 PM

You'll have to elaborate, because I don't quite get your meaning. However, consistent with my assertion that humans naturally tend to infringe on the freedoms of others, it would not surprise me if I (being human) unknowingly succumbed to such a temptation myself. It's not apparent to me where I did so (or advocated doing so), however.

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | April 14, 2004 4:09 PM

Well it just seems to me that all of this is just the same sort of thing that you're accusing others of doing. You want to silence people like Bush but you still want to be able to say what you deem appropriate.

If I'm misunderstanding, then I apologize, but I've found that a lot of really liberal people can be just as close-minded as the uber-conservative people that they are fighting against. "If you don't believe what I believe then you are wrong."

Posted by: Tracy | April 14, 2004 5:14 PM

P.S. I am not in any way standing up for any statements that George W. Bush makes.

Posted by: Tracy | April 14, 2004 5:16 PM

There's a vast difference between saying "Bush is making an obviously false statement" and saying "Bush should be forcibly prevented from making obviously false statements." I absolutely believe that Bush should be allowed to make obviously false statements, even if I would prefer that he didn't, and even if I think it's poor leadership or bad policy for him to do so. Expressing my belief that he is speaking falsely is in no way equivalent to advocating that he be silenced, and I cannot see that I did the latter in my post.

To quote Voltaire, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Posted by: Arcane Gazebo | April 14, 2004 5:46 PM
Post a comment