Saturday, April 28, 2007

Is Karl Rove an atheist?

Here's the interview, by Boris Kachka, where Christopher Hitchens says that Karl Rove is an atheist and that George Bush isn't entirely sincere: Are You There, God? It's Me, Hitchens.

Here are the quotes:

Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist?

Well, I don’t talk that much to them—maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, “I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.”

What must Bush make of that?

I think it’s false to say that the president acts as if he believes he has God’s instructions. Compared to Jimmy Carter, he’s nowhere. He’s a Methodist, having joined his wife’s church in the end. He also claims that Jesus got him off the demon drink. He doesn’t believe it. His wife said, “If you don’t stop, I’m leaving and I’m taking the kids.” You can say that you got help from Jesus if you want, but that’s just a polite way of putting it in Texas.

Rove is beginning to sound like he's a Martin Bormann. Bormann was a prominent Nazi official, head of the Party Chancellery and private secretary to Adolf Hitler. He gained Hitler's trust and derived immense power within the Third Reich by controlling access to the F├╝hrer. Bormann was one of very, very few vocal atheists in the Nazi leadership.

It was Bormann who edited "Hitler's Table Talk," 1941–1944, mostly a re-telling of Hitler's wartime dinner conversations. It went into print in 1951. The accuracy of the Table Talk is highly disputed and it contradicts many of Hitler's publicly held positions, especially in regards to religious adherence. It is the only original source to hint that Hitler was an atheist. Richard C. Carrier's, On the Trail of Bogus Quotes, attributes it to dishonest translations. Here's a tid-bit:

Such is the state of the source for Hitler's remarks. "I shall never come to terms with the Christian lie," Hitler supposedly said on 27 February 1942. "Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity." From this you would certainly conclude that Hitler believed all Christianity was a lie, a disease he wished gone. But the German does not say this! And there lies the scandal. The text of both Jochmann and (the corrected) Picker agree in every detail, yet say something completely different from the English everyone quotes. I will give you my own literal translations so you can see for yourself.

Let's take the "disease" remark first. Here is what Picker/Jochmann says (the preceding three sentences must be included now for context, though all but the first of these sentences are completely missing from Trevor-Roper and Genoud):

"I have never found pleasure in maltreating others, even if I know it isn't possible to maintain oneself in the world without force. Life is granted only to those who fight the hardest. It is the law of life: Defend yourself!"

"The time in which we live has the appearance of the collapse of this idea. It can still take 100 or 200 years. I am sorry that, like Moses, I can only see the Promised Land from a distance."

At once you can see the English endorsed by Trevor-Roper and used by Glover (and everyone else: this is the only English translation in print) is a lie. There is no "disease of Christianity." Rather, in place of that phrase is a reference to what Hitler says in the preceding sentences, which Trevor-Roper's English doesn't even include: the idea of expediency, survival of the fittest, the "necessary evil" of using force to implement your will. That is what Hitler wishes will end (and he certainly believed it would, when the Third Reich finally became the utopian state of every Nazi's dreams).

Martin Bormann is part of the reason Christian apologists can get some foothold on claiming that Nazism was anti-Christian. Often quotes attributed to Hitler are actually Bormann's. Bormann secretly worked against the Catholica behind Hitler's back and without Hitler's permission. The fight against the church organizations were Bormann's projects. In spite of Bormann's repeated attempts to persuade Hitler to act against the Churches, Hitler never did. He only acted against Christians who opposed him.

Will the fundies re-interpret Bush because of Rove in the same way they did Hitler based on Bormann?

Hitler had made Christian school prayer mandatory for the 1930's German schoolchildren and he publicly espoused "family values", which in his mind meant the condemnation of sexual "perversions," reminiscent of the right-wing fundamentalist position today. The German Christian Social movement resembled the modern right-wing Christian Fundamentalist movement. Hitler closely followed the anti-Semitic teachings of Martin Luther. Luther wrote a book called "On Jews and their Lies."

Either way you slice it, the majority of Christians come off as clueless suckers in Hitler's time and in ours. It would be reasonable to assume that the religious population was considerably larger than the atheist population in Germany in Hitler's time. If the religious population had been minuscule, there would be little reason for Hitler to pander to them. If the atheist population had been large, wouldn't Hitler have tried to use propaganda to win them to his side, rather than railing against them and driving them to support the Socialists or Communists?

Religious pandering is still the mark of a scoundrel whether they believe what they are saying or not. Rove and Bormann were scoundrels chasing the easy way to power and influence.


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