“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends,” the president said, quoting scripture.
… “Because of these patriots, and because of you, this country that we love will always shine as a light onto the world.”
In an effort not to seethe further at the absurdity of U.S. imperial hagiography, with all of the execrable conceit of State Department spokespersons who construct hierarchies of good and bad humans which translates into an ordering of those who deserve to live and those who deserve to die, and their unlimited ability to project their own sins into fantasies of the other, I thought: why not help the U.S. State Department improve on the deification of its belligerent agents? So, free of charge and without any expectation of gratitude, I produced the portrait below for them to hang in their halls of (temporary) power: “In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble. Our hearts break over each one. And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn”.
Otherwise, there is no helping them: their self-reverence has reached such an extreme that it is fully saturated. Even a gentle breeze against a U.S. flag is enough agitation of their patriotic molecules for it to start raining praise. Patriotic, militaristic, imperial “Americans” simply cannot get over themselves–but that’s not the worst part. The worst part is they expect the rest of us to genuflect. Any time one of theirs dies in a war of their choosing, they automatically ascend to heaven as “heroes”. American + death = hero. They are exact replicas of the fundamentalists with whom they lock horns: death is always martyrdom. There is no raising the question in their minds that maybe given that Christopher Stevens as a fully complicit, anti-diplomatic actor who worked with insurgents to overthrow a government, resulting in the gory and sadistic death of its leader, the mass torture and lynching of thousands of civilians, and the total destruction of certain cities, might have himself earned the status of a legitimate target. And he, and the rest of the CIA den at that consulate, were targeted, and quite legitimately.
There is really nothing to mourn here, save the willful blindness of some in refusing to accept that their actions carry consequences, and that on rare occasions they too can be made to pay for their offenses. But they are the invincible and untouchable ones, so any picture of a U.S. citizen getting struck abroad is theologically unacceptable. These are definitely not people prepared to face their impending decline and crash as an imperial power–in fact, their leaders are doing everything imaginable to make their population’s landing the hardest possible. The means to artificially sustain their imperial complex on life support, thanks to foreign lines of credit and printing more money, will not last much longer. They won’t just crash, they’ll splatter. Then Americans will discover that the people they hate the most on earth are other Americans.
Barack Obama and the State Department have produced the authorized legend of St. Christopher, repeated in large part as canonical truth by the mainstream corporate media which in the U.S. reported on the consulate attack with saddened eyes, somber tones, and furrowed brows–no abrupt switching here from the macabre scenes of Gaddafi’s lynching to the latest puppy doing tricks video. Obama’s words are enough to cause diabetes:
“Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice”.
St. Christopher the liberator, in Obama’s words: “It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save”. And what an easy save that was, while Sirte was ravaged and turned into a slaughter house that had all journalists making comparisons to Stalingrad, Grozny, you name it. That was done thanks to heavy NATO bombings that began in March 2011 and did not cease until late October 2011.
“How could this happen in a country we helped liberate?” That’s what ABC’s Diane Sawyer asked, quoting Hillary Clinton herself. So now some Americans actually believe in self-designating themselves “liberators” of Libya, much like Mussolini’s Fascists did–Mussolini the “protector of Islam” loved by crowds in Tripoli. But we forget the fascist roots of humanitarian interventionism, even forgetting (not knowing) that the humanitarian protection of innocent civilians was Adolf Hitler’s own favourite pretext.
Has ABC been paying any attention at all to how Libya has instead continued to implode, that “liberation” has meant a continuation of civil war, that there are cleavages within fratricidal cleavages, and that Libya has been reduced to a basket case? What liberation exactly? It’s the liberation of U.S. fantasies, allowed to fly free and unbothered by history, by facts, and by the rivers of blood spilled by U.S. bombers.
Pouring on the genetically-modified corn syrup, Hillary Clinton said the following of this hallowed apostle of the brutality of U.S. interventionism:
“Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East….He joined the Foreign Service, learned languages, won friends for America in distant places, and made other people’s hopes his own”.
“In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries. He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya. The world needs more Chris Stevenses. I spoke with his sister, Ann, this morning, and told her that he will be remembered as a hero by many nations”.
Looking for that untold, romantic adventure story, the U.S. media dutifully related snippets of Stevens the Libyan Revolutionary, who “was on literally on the rebels’ side“.
Their doctrinal insanity never ceases to amaze, especially when in making such statements they directly contradict all of their previous hallowed truths. In the early days and weeks of Libya’s war, the U.S. always insisted that the military intervention was all about “protecting civilians,” and not about regime change, and that it had no forces on the ground–all of which were proven to be lies just as quickly as they were uttered. And yet here is Clinton herself admitting that the U.S. took a direct and covert role on one side of the conflict, completely converting Stevens from a diplomat into a belligerent. Whenever the U.S. says that this or that leader “must go,” they already have their operatives on the ground directly intervening–so their protests of innocence regarding Syria are just as fake.
“He loved Libya and Libyan people,” Stevens’ colleague wrote, calling him “legendary” –repeated by the so-called “free” media. Legendary? How about just mythical. How about not feeding your audiences so much of this chemically-treated bullshit that even your so-called “human rights” activists regurgitate it on reflex like loyal sons:
ABC was so beside itself, that even now it has not fixed the bizarre contradictions and errors in its own reports on Stevens–look at these: “Stevens, 52 and single” becomes, “He leaves behind his wife, Heather, and two young children, Samantha and Nathan”; or this interesting line, “Stevens…was killed Tuesday by militants in Gadhafi who stormed the Benghazi consulate”. Militants in Gadhafi, not Benghazi. When you hastily hash out some hero-tale on command, in a “news” report that mixes in so much of the State Department’s own releases without question, you are bound to just cock it all up. The propaganda keeps getting more and more amateurish.
So here is the U.S. mission to the UN spewing more vilification and demonization yesterday, in reaction to Robert Mugabe’s speech at the UN which simply called on the U.S. to condemn the brutal murder of Gaddafi, just as Zimbabwe had condemned both it and the killing of Stevens. The U.S. accused Mugabe of reaching “a new low” (really? you mean you actually allowed him any space in your diatribes to go lower?), and in particular it said this:
“(Mugabe) cynically chose to compare the best of us with the worst of us, a ridiculous and abhorrent comparison that we reject in the strongest terms”.
And not be outdone in cynicism, the U.S. mission added, “President Mugabe had a chance yesterday to share with the international community his plans for reversing the downward spiral his rule has inflicted on the economy and people of Zimbabwe over the last three decades”. How about they reflect on the downward spiral of the U.S. economy, imposed on the American people by corrupt, corporate-owned politicians, and the millions upon millions of Americans left without jobs, without homes, raising millions of their children not just in poverty but suffering actual hunger? Such circumstances were unknown in Libya, before the U.S. destroyed it, rich and debt-free and generous with its money, unlike the U.S. And to keep on with the myth of the Zimbabwean basket case is simply to treat their fellow citizens as complete morons and illiterates.
The worst of us: there is a tradition in the U.S. of demonizing Gaddafi. General Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State, referred to Gaddafi as, “a cancer that has to be removed;” then Vice President George H.W. Bush described him as an “egomaniac who would trigger World War III to make headlines;” an alleged moderate, former President Jimmy Carter spoke of Gaddafi as “subhuman,” while former President Gerald Ford said Gaddafi was a “bully” and also a “cancer;” and, not to be left out, disgraced former President Richard Nixon said Gaddafi was “more than just a desert rat,” but also “an international outlaw,” and urged an international response to Gaddafi (see Wright, 1981-1982, p. 16). To cancer, subhuman, and rat, we would later add Reagan’s famous line that Gaddafi was a “mad dog”—the pattern of utter dehumanization and demonization of Gaddafi was set long before the first NATO bombs started to fall on Libya in March of 2011, as I detail in my latest book.
Comparing Gaddafi to Stevens? Mugabe would never do any such thing. There is nothing that Stevens did that could ever compare with Gaddafi’s man-made river project, the free housing, the abolition of rent, the welfare guarantees, the free education and healthcare, the construction of new cities, and a population that grew by 600% under Gaddafi and which enjoyed an income and standard of living that were the highest on the African continent, and well above its Arab neighbours. What could Stevens do to match that, when he could not even cover his own ass with a properly secured edifice?
And how many cities in Libya did Gaddafi destroy with aerial bombardments during his tenure? How many populations of whole towns did he displace to live in open air prison camps, like Tawargha, to suffer nightly hunting raids, rape, abduction, and seeing their children shot? Libya has never seen worse crimes, apart from the time when it suffered at the hands of the Italians of course.
The best of us? If that is the best of you–Christopher Stevens as the “best” American–then this legitimates every form of anti-Americanism. Then again, if you are so quick to rank your own population in that manner, such that you have best Americans, those who actively die for empire, then the implication is that the rest are inferior, the worst Americans who live and who don’t serve empire. Perhaps you don’t need others to be anti-American, when you are so good at it yourselves.
No doubt, possessed by their state religion, barely distinguishable from the worst and cruellest of colonial missionary Christianity, some anonymous trolls will want me to perform a public auto-da-fé, and declare that the greatest force for evil in the world today is this or that group fighting the U.S., such as the Taliban. You know what? I will. Just as soon as the Taliban drop atomic bombs on cities, just as soon as they occupy the planet with a thousand military bases in 120 countries, just as soon as their military spending surpasses that of the rest of the planet combined, just as soon as they start overthrowing governments, when they invade and occupy my country, flying drones that murder civilians, and abduct people from the streets of Europe to fly them into oblivion and years of torture, just as soon as they keep us under constant surveillance, and just as soon as they threaten our budgets for schools and healthcare to build more weapons, I will indeed condemn them as the greatest force for evil on this earth.
Wright, Claudia. (1981-1982). “Libya and the West: Headlong into Confrontation?” International Affairs, 58(1), Winter, 13-41.
6 thoughts on “The Apotheosis of St. Christopher of Libya”
Nailed to the cross!
” “‘And in the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams.”
It must be that fungus that is growing on the rye, again, St. Vitus’ Dance is what the USans and their Overlards are doing.
I can hardly wait for them to find a way to villify King Abdullah of Jordan, who once rode with his staff, all on Harley Davidson bikes, down from Portland to LA, stopping in for a beer at the Lost Coast Brewery here in Eureka!
I mean, we gotta stop making him look like a normal guy, make him a Bad Guy, for democracy to progress in the Levant, following the same pattern as King David, 3,000 years ago, we gotta liberate Jordan; hopefully before the World Archaeological Congress meets there in January..
Reblogged this on Rolandrjs's Blog.
Nice points John, thanks. The height to which they raise their “angels” might be inversely related to the feared depth of their geopolitical decline.
Well said. Thank you.
That portrait is a seriously impressive work of hagiographic art.The face of the little child St Christopher is carrying is particularly inspiring. I interpret this child as an incarnation of Goodness, or USAness (as we know that these concepts are synonymous anyway).
I can’t see how this picture can elicit anything other than devotion for USA’s and other NATO’s Heroes, and gratitude for the artist.
Simply put, you restored my faith.
Seriously though, the Hero rhetoric keeps getting creepier and creepier.
Umberto Eco, in his tentative definition of Ur-fascism in 14 features, gave this as feature 11 :
“[in Ur-fascist settings] everybody is educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in Ur-Fascist ideology, heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Falangists was Viva la Muerte (in English it should be translated as “Long Live Death!”). In non-fascist societies, the lay public is told that death is unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death, advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die. In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death.”
Excellent quote Jérémy, many thanks for that, it’s a valuable explanation of the transformation in the dominant political ideologies that work to reshape the broader cultural framework in which they are situated (or that try to anyway). It’s such a compelling orthodoxy for many in the U.S., because it feeds on long-standing faith of the state, exceptionalism, national supremacy, valour…dominant over others even when killed by others. The Christian undertones are unmistakable, in the structure of the myth of Stevens, and his role as an apostle, who experienced his own Pentecost. It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that some American Indian nations and American Indian media are buying into all of this and adding their own layer of cultural legitimation for empire, by reworking Stevens as a hero by virtue of his supposed descent from some great Chinook chief. It shows you cannot just be complacent in being a “descendant” of the original anti-imperialists, anti-imperialism is an ongoing dynamic that requires renewal, not commemoration, a process of constantly becoming, not being.
Thanks very much.
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