Perhaps this old song from John Lennon played in President Obama’s head as he gave his recent speech at The National Defense University. It’s decent yet misguided naivete went through mine as I read about The President’s views on our war against Reactionary Islamic Fundamentalism.
Brett Easton Ellis begins his first novel Less Than Zero with a seeming Red Herring. Blair tells Clay (the anti-heroic protagonist) that “People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.” This, of course, symbolizes the empty, existential ennui that Easton-Ellis posited as a monster poised to devour the children of 1980’s America. I sometimes feel that I live in an era marked by that monster’s triumphant conquest over what was once a great American Nation. I find myself forced against my will to believe the nation I once loved has succumbed to what I once described as “The Evil of The Blur.” I was born here and grew up here. I served in my nation’s armed forces of my own free will. I wasn’t exactly Rambo and never claim to be. However, I loved America without condition. Now I only remain patriotic to the memory and hope in all my delusional vanity that this is what we can again become. Now keep that in mind as you imagine what Osama Bin Laden thought about America on a typical day.
With Bin Laden’s probable feelings toward America in the back of your mind, parse this statement made by our Commander-In-Chief President Barack Obama.
“This war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”
I can only respectfully recommend to our elected leader that he acquaint himself better with the character of Lucifer from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. We can tell ourselves we are exceptional. We can tell ourselves we are the last, best hope for humanity. We can convince ourselves, like Francis Fukayama, that history has ended and we can all sing the refrain from Queen. We are the champions of the world.
Yet Milton’s Lucifer and Osama Bin Laden are alike in more than their iniquity. They are alike in that each one became more dangerous when they comingled their rapacious badness with a leavening of truth. They both had a point. Post-modern America is the death of traditional culture. I personally hate where America is going. An ideological proponent of traditional Islamic Culture looks at America and sees what Bret Easton Ellis’ drug-addled protagonist saw in Los Angeles.
“The images I had were of people being driven mad by living in the city. Images of parents who were so hungry and unfulfilled that they ate their own children.”
And if that is what you believe of our Heaven, than John Milton accurately predicts what you think of your own Hell.
“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”
Now tell me Mr. Obama, now that you’ve channeled John Lennon at his most naïve. Is our war against Traditional Islam’s Thermidorian Reaction to Post-modern America something you can unilaterally end? Can war really be over if we want it? I wish you and Mr. Lennon were right. I’d love it if we could celebrate Christmas on Memorial Day.
We cannot, President Obama. I say that with sadness instead of my typical disdain for your ideological philosophy. I really like what you believe here, Sir. It’s just that Mr. Logic keeps telling me that it isn’t going to happen. Not now, not next year, not until a cataclysmic change happens in either our frame of reference or in that of Mr. Bin Laden’s dedicated fellow-travelers.
But just as Santa Claus does not exist in real life; we cannot celebrate Christmas on Memorial Day. We can only say a prayer of thanks to those brave warriors who gave their all, like Christ did on the cross, so that we can celebrate Christmas at its appropriate time in December.
So where does this leave the perpetual war between America and the past? What does its future hold. Sadly, it is nothing that would make John Lennon’s truly benevolent holiday greetings a reality. Instead, I think our Post-modern Jeremiah, Bret Easton-Ellis has the right of it with regards to the ongoing War on Terror. I close with his eerily prescient prediction of what I believe the course of our next few years of war against Reactionary Islam will hold.
“Where are we going?” I asked. “I don’t know” he said “just driving”. “But this road doesn’t go anywhere” I told him. “That doesn’t matter.” “What does?” I asked, after a little while. “Just that we’re on it, dude.” He said.”