Friday, December 26, 2008

Two Dangerous Bush-Cheney Myths

By Robert Parry
December 26, 2008

As George W. Bush and Dick Cheney make their case for some positive legacy from the past eight years, two arguments are playing key roles: the notion that torturing terror suspects saved American lives and the belief that Bush’s Iraq troop “surge” transformed a disaster into something close to “victory.”

Read on.


Florence Chan said...

In short, all Bush/Cheney did was "for your own good." So there's not much room for argument, much less investigation, prosecution, impeachment, and so on. We're the ones who are guilty of not being grateful enough.

Re: surge, everywhere you look, mainstream media have been giving credit to it. Here's the caption to a picture depicting a peaceful scene in Iraq where boys are playing in a river, on pp.126-127 of Time (Jan. 5 issue):

The return of everyday life. Boys at play in a river in the Iraqi town of Garma, near Fallujah. With the U.S. troop surge--and a willingness among local militias to confront al-Qaeda militants--the country calmed considerably in 2008.

fact checker said...

What's that old adage? Everything is relative....

In the LA Times this a.m. a story ends with, Despite the relative calm, bombs still go off almost daily in Baghdad. But the style of attack has genuinely shifted away from explosions meant to kill dozens to targeted assassinations, whether by a roadside bomb, shooting, or an explosive attached to a person's vehicle.

...which belies the lede:

Reporting from Baghdad -- A car bomb blew up in a Shiite neighborhood in western Baghdad today, killing up to 24 people and wounding 46 others, police said. The attack came less than a week before Iraq regains responsibility for its security from the United States.....

....The blast followed a suicide bombing in northern Iraq's Kirkuk region earlier this month that claimed the lives of 51 people.

Another example of "the return of everyday life?"

Anonymous said...

Torture is simply wrong. It is used to create fear and induce unquestioning obedience. Torture is wrong and is used to induce fear. It is recognized well that torture leads to wrong information for the obvious reason -- the person tortured will say anything to avoid more pain -- any of the agencies involved in this despicable practice will admit that!!!! That was my 87 year old mom. Now I have to choose an identiy.

Anonymous said...


knowbuddhau said...

O brother! My Brother Robert, you are rocking my world lately. I love your emphasis on the power of myths to distort reality and direct history.

Myth-jacking is the MO of the far-right.

JOSEPH CAMPBELLI've been connected, in one way or another, in a kind of, you know, talking way, with the State Dept., for some time now, and the uh people down there tell me that one of their great problems is, not to do the things that the ambassador, and president and Cabinet, tell them to do. I can tell you, my dear friends (with a chuckle), the State Department is a department of very learn-ed gentlemen, they know what to do. But they're only agents. The directions come from these people who you know poured money into the Democratic Party for the election, and so become ambassador to this and ambassador to that, and they're telling these people what to do, and I've heard it from many of them: "Our main problem is to achieve the work as slowly as possible in order to bring about as little damage as possible." These are the authorities, the old people. We haven't learned how to handle them, but in the old traditional societies, they had learned, and the reason they'd learned was that nothing much changed anyhow, things were in the times of the old people about as they had been when they were young. That's not true anymore. Joseph Campbell Audio Collection, Vol. 4 Man and Myth: Disc 4: The Necessity of Rites.

Imagine Cheney and the Neocons riffing on this! I hear the mythos that begets the cosmos that grows the psychos who are using us as fodder for their egos.

Campbell asks, 'Now that the old myths have dropped off, what is the process of conceiving new ones?' I hear the theory of the unitary executive, of evading Congressional checks and balances and calling it 'good.'

Somebody, I am dead certain, has taken Campbell's lessons to heart. They're using the power of myth, as expressed in Campbell's comparative mythology, as the engine of weapons-grade propaganda, "manipulating the media narrative," as McClellan calls it, thereby delivering us into this Waste Land.

Time magazine reported that The Power of Myth was very important to Obama when he was young. I strongly recommend Vol. 4 of the JCAC, esp. Mythic Living and the one cited above.

6 Thou Art That


The life of a mythology springs from and depends on the metaphoric vigor of its symbols. These deliver more than just an intellectual concept, for such is their inner character that they provide a sense of actual participa­tion in a realization of transcendence. The symbol, energized by metaphor, conveys, not just an idea of the infinite but some realization of the infinite. We must remember, however, that the metaphors of one historically con­ditioned period, and the symbols they innervate, may not speak to the per­sons who are living long after that historical moment and whose consciousness has been formed through altogether different experiences.

While times and conditions change drastically, the subject of historical conditioning throughout the centuries, that is the complex psychosomatic unity we call the human person, remains a constant. What Adolph Bastian described as "elementary ideas," and Jung referred to as "archetypes of the collective unconscious" are the biologically rooted motivating powers and connoted references for the mythologies that, cast in the metaphors of changing historical and cultural periods, remain themselves constant.

The metaphors perform their function of speaking to these deep levels of human beings when they arise freshly from the contemporary context of experience. And a new mythology is rapidly becoming a necessity both so­cially and spiritually as the metaphors of the past, such as the Virgin Birth and the Promised Land, misread consequently as facts, lose their vitality and become concretized. But that new mythology is already implicit among us, native to the mind waiting as the sleeping prince does for the kiss of his beloved, to be awakened by new metaphoric symbolization. These will be derived necessarily from contemporary life, thought, and experience and, as the special language that can of its own power touch the innermost layers of consciousness, provide a reinvigorated mythology to us.

Artists share the calling, according to their disciplines and crafts, to cast the new images of mythology. That is, they provide the contemporary metaphors that allow us to realize the transcendent, infinite, and abundant nature of being as it is. Their metaphors are the essential elements of the symbols that make manifest the radiance of the world just as it is, rather than arguing that it should be one way or the other. They reveal it as it is.
A mythology may be understood as an organization of metaphorical figures connotative of states of mind that are not finally of this or that location or historical period, even though the figures themselves seem on their surface to suggest such a concrete localization. The metaphorical lan­guages of both mythology and metaphysics are not denotative of actual worlds or gods, but rather connote levels and entities within the person touched by them. Metaphors only seem to describe the outer world of time and place. Their real universe is the spiritual realm of the inner life. The Kingdom of God is within you.

The problem, as we have noted many times, is that these metaphors, which concern that which cannot in any other way be told, are misread prosaically as referring to tangible facts and historical occurrences. The de­notation—that is, the reference in time and space: a particular Virgin Birth, the End of the World—is taken as the message, and the connotation, the rich aura of the metaphor in which its spiritual significance may be de­tected, is ignored altogether. The result is that we are left with the particu­lar "ethnic" inflection of the metaphor, the historical vesture, rather than the living spiritual core.

Inevitably, therefore, the popular understanding is focused on the ritu­als and legends of the local system, and the sense of the symbols is reduced to the concrete goals of a particular political system of socialization. When the language of metaphor is misunderstood and its surface structures be­come brittle, it evokes merely the current time-and-place-bound order of things and its spiritual signal, if transmitted at all, becomes ever fainter.

It has puzzled me greatly that the emphasis in the professional exegesis of the entire Judeo-Christian-Islamic mythology has been on the denota­tive rather than on the connotative meaning of the metaphoric imagery that is its active language. The Virgin Birth, as I have mentioned, has been presented as an historical fact, fashioned into a concrete article of faith over which theologians have argued for hundreds of years, often with grave and disruptive consequences. Practically every mythology in the world has used this "elementary" or co-natural idea of a virgin birth to refer to a spiritual rather than an historical reality. The same, as I have suggested, is true of the metaphor of the Promised Land, which in its denotation plots nothing but a piece of earthly geography to be taken by force. Its connotation—that is, its real meaning—however, is of a spiritual place in the heart that can only be entered by contemplation.

Campbell, J. (2001). Thou Art That: transforming religious metaphor. pp. 6-7. New World Library 14 Pamaron Way Novato, California 94949 Copyright © 2001 by Joseph Campbell Foundation