Thursday, September 16, 2010

Freethinking

I don't pay much attention to what the Atheists* are babbling about on the internet aside from scanning posts by PZ Myers and occasional other similar nincompoops for particularly egregious nincompoopery. But it has come to my attention that, apparently, some of them are using their freethinking, unfettered, rational brains to believe, probably based on lots of supporting evidence, that Obama is an atheist himself.

Now, this actually seems kind of likely to me, despite all of Obama's public religioning, because it's hard for me to believe that he cares about anything bigger than himself (except insofar as such things must be destroyed). I kind of doubt this is what the Atheists are saying, though I can't be sure because Myers doesn't actually link to anybody and I'm not about to go looking. It seems much more likely to me, though, that this is just more of that bizarre liberal projection that Obama still seems to enable (though thankfully not as strongly as he used to): "I'm an atheist, Obama is just like me but cooler, so he's probably an atheist too!"

Myers, to his credit, isn't buying it. He's not buying that weird D'Souza anti-colonialist thing, either (on the liberal response to which I hope to have more later). But let's see what he's selling instead.
Look, it's so much simpler. Obama is not a socialist or a communist or a Luo tribesman. He is a centrist politician from Chicago who believes in improving peoples lives incrementally by working step by step through political compromise. He pisses off the liberal, progressive wing of the Democratic party because we want him to be bold and aggressive, and he's not, and because he's also comfortable with the military-industrial status quo. He really annoys the wingnut right because he wants to move the country away from their dreams of a Reaganesque/Randian capitalist paradise, and he is…slowly and tentatively.

That's really all you need to know to comprehend what Obama is doing and how he works. It's sufficient to explain everything.
Mr. Myers, freethinker, scientist, man of reason who only believes what there is sufficient supporting evidence for: on what evidence are you basing your conclusion that Obama believes in improving peoples lives? Can you lay out your logic in connecting this with being comfortable with the military-industrial status quo? Please state for me the steps Obama is taking, slowly and tentatively even, to dismantle the capitalist paradise.

It's very, very simple. I don't believe in god, but even if I did, I could see it. Obama cares about himself. Obama is trying to amass power and wealth to himself. In order to further this goal, he is working to maintain and further empower the system which gave him the power he has now. Improving people's lives doesn't need to enter into it. Occam's razor, Mr. Myers.

Myers and his fellow Atheists say that religion is insanity, because it's believing in things without evidence. But at least it is possible to posit "god" on top of what we see, without denying what we actually do see. What Myers is doing is creating a fictional alternate reality that flies in the face of all logic and evidence. I'll take religion over that any day.

TANGENT It's funny to me that pretty much every mainstream reaction to Obama, positive and negative, involves assuming that he's "secretly" what you want him to be: a progressive**, a communist, an atheist, a Muslim, an anti-war reformer, an anti-colonialist tribesman; always with one of those whatever-dimensional chess games going on. I realize that our society is the society of the lie, of fiction, but this is so much more on the surface than usual. In a way it's kind of great, but in a much more powerful way it's just kind of terrifying.

*As opposed to people who don't believe in god but don't particularly care if you do.
**Whatever that is.

12 comments:

Richard said...

Fucking great post.

Charles F. Oxtrot said...

Fuck yeah, Richard's fuckin' right!

The footnote on "Pwoggie" is excellent.

PZ Myers seems to be trying really hard to rehabilitate Our Obamessiah, to corral the nascent anti-capitalists. I'd love to go a few rounds in the ring with PZ. Intellectual sparring or fisticuffs, his choice.

Heh.

thebaronette said...

The sleight-of-hand behind Obama's identity is unbelievable. It's completely predatory on people's wishes.

On the one level, he presents himself as malleable. But behind all the compromises, negotiations, and diplomacy is a specific intent. Like you said, that intent is just to reinforce the power structure he benefits from.

It reminds me of Grail Marcus' analysis of a scene from Dreiser's Sister Carrie. In it, a young woman is haunted by a lace-collared shirt and pair of shoes. She hears the shoes say:

"Ah such little feet... how effectively I cover them; what a pity they should ever want my aid."

Marcus suggests that "they can rescue her, or, should she prove herself unworthy, that they might not."

We think of clothing and objects as an extension of ourselves when really they are fetishized to a degree where they ultimately determine our language, our mode of existence, and our identity. Similarly, Obama projects himself as submissive to prey on the need people have to see their own reflection in the world. Once he's gained their alliance, he can use his position to manipulate the principles which brought this alliance about in the first place.

When people find a word or phrase to express themselves, they don't let go of it easily. They'll go along with it through any transformations determined by a man with charm.

I just wanna see Obama crush a dove with his bare hands and turn it into a quarter he pulls from someone's ear.

Dan said...

Is it wrong of me to just comment with nothing more except "Yes! Yes! A million times yes!"?

I mean, I don't want to waste anyone's time.

Randal Graves said...

A progressive, a communist, an atheist, a Muslim and a priest walk into a bar...

Everyone's got a belief system, and whether it's Sweet Zombie Jesus, toga-clad Zeus, Ole One Eye, the tree out back, Gene Roddenberry or, in this case, American "democracy," it's hard to break free of its spell. At least the tree doesn't try to fuck you over, unless it lands on your house during a storm I've got my eye on you, tree.

(in case I wasn't clear, I second everyone's yay, heh)

demize! said...

So, uhh, Obama is Malcolm X?

Soj said...

Obama is secretly my new bicycle!

Anonymous said...

Well put. When you define the problem as being the acquisition and enhancement power itself, as I do, who uses it and how you use it never provide a solution. As between Myers fiction and religion, I don't prefer either. They look quite the same to me.

drip

Jack Crow said...

Nicely done.

Any thoughts on how Obama improved on Clinton's ability to be exactly what his enemies wanted him to be - the better to trap them in their own narrative?

mp said...

word.

Ethan said...

Thanks for the nice-nice, everyone. I appreciate it.

baronette--I don't have much to add to that excellent analysis except to point out, which knowing you you already have noticed and probably did deliberately, that with a few minor edits it applies equally to the discussion below this one.

Randal--the tree is a good one.

drip--I guess the choice I kind of passively offered up towards the end of the post, between Myers' deluded liberal Atheism on the one hand and all religion on the other was a bit too broad. After all, just as the problem with a religious imperial ruler isn't the religion, the problem with a fuzzy-headed liberal atheist isn't the atheism.

Jack--I wasn't particularly aware of things during Clinton, so my knowledge of the era (beyond the things that became pop cultural catchphrases, like "I didn't inhale" and "I did not have sex with that woman" and "It depends on what the definition of 'is' is") is* formed entirely out of other people's revisions of it. So really your guess is as good as mine, if in fact Obama did improve on Clinton in this way. It seems to me that he did, though didn't Clinton have a lot of weird conspiracy theories flying around him as well? Anyway, if Obama is actually better at being what his enemies what him to be, I'm sure it's in large part for the same reasons he's so good at being exactly what his friends want him to be--he's Black, he constantly signals his education, he's not from a poor Southern state, he's got a weird name. That's not all of it, but it sure helps.

*is is is is is.

almostinfamous said...

obama = clinton+bush+web 2.0

i guess if wikipedia were around, there would have been a clearer definition of Isis*...



(*apologies for lame joke)