The Embodiment of Evil in Our Time

Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, has declared that George W. Bush, president of the United States, is Satan. This is not particularly original, the U.S., and the president by extension, has been considered the Great Satan for some time now. The title was famously bestowed  by Ayatollah Khomeini during the Carter presidency, though Khomeini probably borrowed the term from someone else. Chavez also compared Mr. Bush to John Wayne, a comparison that Mr. Bush probably enjoys.

That Venezuela has a philosophical alignment with Iran is hardly news. Neither is it surprising that anyone adhering to a religious dogma should compare their enemy to Satan. But a distinction among Mr. Bush's enemies emerges. Anti—Bush forces in the secular west prefer to compare him to Hitler, as can be seen here, here, here, and several hundred thousand other places that you can find if you look carefully.

It could be that both groups are saying the same thing, it has been suggested that Hitler is the secular version of Satan. But there are a couple of problems with this assertion: secularists don't believe in Satan, and Iranians don't think that Hitler is such a bad guy.

Secularists remain noncommittal on the existence of God, and without belief in God what is the value of belief in Satan? Since there is a apparently a human need to believe in something evil, the secularists have chosen to use Hitler as the avatar of evil. But to claim that a secularist saying 'Hitler' is actually saying 'Satan' would likely result in a deeply philosophical discussion about the nature of evil.

For their part, the Iranians, and their newfound friends the Venezuelans, would be unlikely to compare their common enemy to Hitler for a couple of reasons. Persian ties to the Nazi movement in Germany were rather close. The vaunted Aryan race was Indo—Persian, and somehow managed to establish a foothold in Germany. Also, like the Nazis, Iranians do not care to share the planet with Jews. The recent relationship between the U.S. and Iran can probably best  be characterized as strained.

Venezuela was an ally of the United States in WW2, but they provided no military forces. And, though they have harbored fewer Nazi fugitives than other South American nations, they have served as host to a few. The historic relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela can probably best be characterized as unremarkable, with no real obligation to show any signs of friendliness.

In light of this, Mr. Chavez probably assesses that Venezuela would remain in the shadow of the U.S. if he throws his support in that direction, but by aligning himself with theocrats on the other side of the struggle he can likely seize attention on a planetary scale, which he did symbolically in the General Assembly of the U.N, achieving a full 25 minutes of fame.

One effect of Mr. Chavez' declaration is to create an opportunity for Mr. Bush's secular opponents in the U.S. and the West in general to declare their true allegiance in the struggle. So far, Charles Rangel [D—NY]  and Nancy Pelosi [D—CA]  have taken advantage of the opportunity. They seem to be saying "Bush may be Satan, but he's our Satan and you'll need to find your own." 

Someone should market sulfur—scented cologne.

Tom Bruner   9 22 06

Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, has declared that George W. Bush, president of the United States, is Satan. This is not particularly original, the U.S., and the president by extension, has been considered the Great Satan for some time now. The title was famously bestowed  by Ayatollah Khomeini during the Carter presidency, though Khomeini probably borrowed the term from someone else. Chavez also compared Mr. Bush to John Wayne, a comparison that Mr. Bush probably enjoys.

That Venezuela has a philosophical alignment with Iran is hardly news. Neither is it surprising that anyone adhering to a religious dogma should compare their enemy to Satan. But a distinction among Mr. Bush's enemies emerges. Anti—Bush forces in the secular west prefer to compare him to Hitler, as can be seen here, here, here, and several hundred thousand other places that you can find if you look carefully.

It could be that both groups are saying the same thing, it has been suggested that Hitler is the secular version of Satan. But there are a couple of problems with this assertion: secularists don't believe in Satan, and Iranians don't think that Hitler is such a bad guy.

Secularists remain noncommittal on the existence of God, and without belief in God what is the value of belief in Satan? Since there is a apparently a human need to believe in something evil, the secularists have chosen to use Hitler as the avatar of evil. But to claim that a secularist saying 'Hitler' is actually saying 'Satan' would likely result in a deeply philosophical discussion about the nature of evil.

For their part, the Iranians, and their newfound friends the Venezuelans, would be unlikely to compare their common enemy to Hitler for a couple of reasons. Persian ties to the Nazi movement in Germany were rather close. The vaunted Aryan race was Indo—Persian, and somehow managed to establish a foothold in Germany. Also, like the Nazis, Iranians do not care to share the planet with Jews. The recent relationship between the U.S. and Iran can probably best  be characterized as strained.

Venezuela was an ally of the United States in WW2, but they provided no military forces. And, though they have harbored fewer Nazi fugitives than other South American nations, they have served as host to a few. The historic relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela can probably best be characterized as unremarkable, with no real obligation to show any signs of friendliness.

In light of this, Mr. Chavez probably assesses that Venezuela would remain in the shadow of the U.S. if he throws his support in that direction, but by aligning himself with theocrats on the other side of the struggle he can likely seize attention on a planetary scale, which he did symbolically in the General Assembly of the U.N, achieving a full 25 minutes of fame.

One effect of Mr. Chavez' declaration is to create an opportunity for Mr. Bush's secular opponents in the U.S. and the West in general to declare their true allegiance in the struggle. So far, Charles Rangel [D—NY]  and Nancy Pelosi [D—CA]  have taken advantage of the opportunity. They seem to be saying "Bush may be Satan, but he's our Satan and you'll need to find your own." 

Someone should market sulfur—scented cologne.

Tom Bruner   9 22 06