True Believers Will Kill Us All

Sure, I wasn't the only journo calling out America's post-9/11 anti-terrorism campaign back in 2001 as one that would begin to resemble "a cultural and religious obsession" the longer it wore on, but I wasn't exactly being squeezed out of my box by a din of assent. Since that time, we've done everything from move the bullseye from Osama bin Laden's back and slap in onto Saddam Hussein to more or less strip United States citizens of their rights without apology. I mean, it was only days ago that a woman in Atlanta was handed a $100 ticket by a cop from DeKalb County's not-so-finest for a bumper sticker with the word "Bushit" on it. Anyone remember Brandon Mayfield? Stop lying. Even if you did, those stories hew to the sensational, as did our push-button war in Iraq, a misadventure that will cost us all one day, according to Scott Ritter and everyone else with any sense in their skulls. But those clashes are nothing compared to the true elephant in the room, and I'm not talking about WMD, Valerie Plame, Guantanamo or Katrina's racial politics.

I'm talking about religion, and the imaginary world it foists upon our lonely planet as we jockey for power. It is the true root of all of our present evils, and it must be eradicated. One way or another.

We could do it the easy way, which is to sit down and have a long, good talk about why we still continue to fight over it, as the Vatican has recently suggested. But the fact that the same Vatican has recently called on us to revise our appraisal of the Crusades isn't encouraging on that count. Plus, the line between what is Christian and what is Muslim (to say nothing of what is Shi'ite and what is Sunni) is so historically slender that we should all be sent to Hell for arguing about it. If only it existed elsewhere, rather than Darfur, Baghdad or any of those other places Americans are too busy watching American Idol to visit. If there is an afterlife, I can't imagine Abraham sitting still for all this internfaith violence, since he's the one that helped invent all of the faiths we're fighting over with bullets and bombs. Which can mean only one thing: He's a pipe dream.

Which is why we should start getting around to religion now, before its smoking gun becomes, to recall Stanfurd loser Condi Rice's persuasive linguistics about Saddam's WMD, a real "mushroom cloud" -- and I'm not talking a reality-TV simulacrum either. The issue is already tearing the Republican Party apart, which is a good thing. But with squinty Bible-thumper Tom Delay taking his swing at the courts in the name of God as he goes down, sensible people who don't believe the Earth was made in a few days by some dude in a beard and sandals should be worried. Because true believers aren't afraid of taking anyone with them to that place where suicide bombers get a thousand virgins (or whatever); as Delay whines to anyone who will listen, there is today a "war on Christianity." And whether it's yesterday's misunderstood Crusades or today's upgraded version reducing Baghdad to rubble, nothing fires up a religious base like war on heathens. It's the only game in town.

So if you think that John McCain is going to hold back the religious nuts running the government, ,think again. Same goes for Hillary; she voted for this war, after all. We've already birthed a million jihadists by screwing around in Iraq, and now that Hamas has landed a parliamentary vote of confidence, that particular pissing match over a patch of land smaller than Haiti could escalate into a serious conflagration. Meanwhile, the rest of us who could give a shit about our ancestors' obsolete squabbles and worldviews will be dealing with a planet that's going to Hell in a hurry. From another Dust-Bowl drought to melting polar caps to a killer asteroid named Apophis and onward into oblivion, we've got a lot to work to do. It'd be great if you lazy religious bastards would get up off your antiquated asses and start helping us out rather than making our jobs not just dangerous, but impossible.