If the Spectacle delivers anything with certainty, it is the endless stream of pseudo-discourse known as “controversy.” Like a giant with whooping cough, the Virtual Leviathan of Late Capital can be counted on to regularly hock up some bit of toxic phlegm, the odor and flashing play of light across its surface fascinating the High Priests of the Asinine.
Witness, for example, the “controversy” over the plans to build a mosque at “ground zero.” The Right has been in a fair panic about this. You know, “it’s an insult to all those who died on 9/11” and other statements of that ilk.
Only, it’s not a mosque. It’s a community center.
Only, it’s not at the former cite of the World Trade Center. It’s two blocks away.
And yet, Newt Gingrich, who is probably the best living argument against Intelligent Design, has said that “The folks who want to build this mosque — who are really radical Islamists who want to triumphally prove that they can build a mosque right next to a place where 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Islamists — those folks don’t have any interest in reaching out to the community. They’re trying to make a case about supremacy. That’s why they won’t go anywhere else, that’s why they won’t accept any other offer.”
He went on to compare the building of this cultural center to placing Nazi propaganda near the Holocaust Museum.
It is tempting to pass by such inanity, pausing only to bestow upon the purveyors the raspberry they so richly deserve. However, the Giant’s sputum, in addition to fascinating the proles, can also be read by the Wise as a repository of runes and portents.
Beneath this vulgar attempt to grab attention on the part of the Far Right lurks, I think, the hint of good old fashioned “blood and soil” fascism. Both elements are equally present, imbued with the characteristic mystical reification so necessary for this kind of project.
In the context of our current economic situation, this is rather menacing. History shows that the decline of empires, such as our own, is often accompanied by extreme developments in religion. American patriotism has always smelled of religion, and the Far Right (let’s face it, the Far Right and the Religious Right are effectively the same organ at this point) seems hellbent on conflating Christianity with the most jingoistic embodiment of it.
It is not difficult to see a distant future in which the people who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon are regarded as martyrs in a Holy War. People will pray to them the way they pray to saints now. For the time being, however, what is more likely is that eschatology will become ideology for more people than it ever has before.
Best to scratch away such a prediction. It’s only one possible future anyway.