Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Billy Graham, Bible Blaster

"Jill said suddenly, „Jubal? How do they get away with it?“
„Get away with what?“
„Everything. That’s not a church-it’s a madhouse.“
It was Jubal’s turn to ponder before answering. „No, Jill, you’re mistaken. It is a church - . . and the logical eclecticism of our times.“
„The New Revelation and all doctrines and practices under it are all old stuff, very old. All you can say about it is that neither Foster nor Digby ever had an original thought in his life. But they knew what would sell, in this day and age. So they pieced together a hundred timeworn tricks, gave them a new paint job, and they were in business. A booming business, too. The only thing that scares me is that I might live to see it sell too well- until it was compulsory for everybody.“
„Oh, no!“
„Oh, yes. Hitler started with less and all he had to peddle was hate. Hate always sells well, but for repeat trade and the long pull happiness is sounder merchandise.

Robert Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land

A charlatan died last week. That the world weeps for him more than it did for Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Hitchens and Carl Sagan put together proves just how utterly doomed our idiotic species is. I was planning to calmly skip over Billy Graham's death, knowing few details of his life (and as every time I add a post tagged "faithosis" or "FEMale chauvINISM" this blog loses half its meager handful of readers) but the monotone nature of the press surrounding this welcome development begs comment.

I was expecting the drooling troglodytic bible-thumpers on what's called the "right wing" to slip into one of their frequent bouts of mass hysteria over Graham croaking. From the American Democratic Party's mass-media mouthpieces, I was expecting their usual noncommittal, muted, spineless genuflecting before hoi polloi mores. I was not expecting the likes of MSNBC and NPR to also outdo themselves lavishing attention and praise on what should be the first implicit enemy of any self-proclaimed "progressive" social movement. Their motivation is readily apparent in the nature of that praise, as every article, news segment and slavish eulogy makes sure to note, repeatedly and at length, the breadth and perpetuity of Graham's control over American politics.

Those of you who have not lived in the U.S. might find it hard to believe, as American mass-media go to some lengths to mask the stench of their country's superstitious undertow, but evangelists like Graham play a huge role in determining social acceptability. He was a king-maker, a store-brand Richelieu and an irresistible ally to any Man Who Would Be King, and every White House occupier including the Clintons and Obama pandered routinely to the festering, ignorant redneck swarms which Graham represented.

But, though his popularity and political power are undeniable, it's much harder to find mention of anything for which Graham stood aside from building up his power base. Indeed, every amateur biographer seems to gush over the man's self-serving ecumenical bending before public opinion. Nose consistently to the wind, his career seems to have tracked major social movements as they came. When he could best widen his influence as part of the southern evangelical circus with its fire-and-brimstone threats of hell, he did that. Once he came to the wider public's attention and saw profit and publicity in playing a "nice" evangelist, he did that too. When playing the anti-semite and pandering to Nixon's paranoia served him, he did so, and when the civil rights movement became an inevitability he paid lip service to desegregation as well. He sold whatever brand of snake-oil would sell to his target audience of primitive, superstitious cretins.

Vermin like Graham, principal vectors of the mental disease faithosis, have killed more humans than any plague throughout history, by diminishing the powers of reason by which thinking beings can improve their environment. They are the velvet glove to any iron fist, a living consensus of inaction and stultification, cheap populism and power brokering, crippling our intellectual progress and our ability to deal with true crises. Robert Heinlein's future histories sometimes predict a coming dark age by the rise of a 21st century theocracy growing out of 20th century southern evangelism (with Graham-in-all-but-name making frequent cameos) noting the inexorable spread of Graham-brand feel-good born-again willful ignorance. Do you think he was wrong? Oh, in the details, sure, but then again Jules Verne's giant cannon never came to be either. Human footsteps still mark the dust on the moon. Look at Graham's Wikipedia article, so stunningly objective that it repeatedly quotes fanboyish bons mots about him as a Bridge Builder, a Pastor to Presidents, Greatest Living American (will they now call him the greatest dead one too?) and a hundred other uncritical mentions of faith and salvation with all the seriousness of the day's weather.

"Graham preached the gospel to more people in person than anyone in the history of Christianity" we are told by our online consensus of reality, not that he lied to more people in person about imbecilic fairy-tale promises of eternal life and protective daddies up in the sky.

On one point I can agree with Graham and other filthy lying scum like him: the end is nigh. Human civilization is nearing its destruction. Only it won't come from any supernatural sources but from the spread of anti-intellectualism, of which Graham was one of the greatest champions. Scum like him should be memorialized, yes... much like Germany remembers its own barbaric tribal backsliding in the thirties and forties. And if you count yourself an intellectual, progressive, free thinker or any other kind of non-retard, you have no excuse whatsoever not to openly condemn one of the greatest reactionary forces to ever walk the North American soil.

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