Sandstorm disrupts Obama's Holy Land travel
What does one make of the sequential embarrassment of President Obama's armored limousine ("The Beast") conking out, and now a sudden sandstorm disrupting his travel to Bethlehem?
"A violent sandstorm that kicked up in Jerusalem on the last day of Mr. Obama's trip grounded President Obama's helicopter Friday, making it unsafe for Mr. Obama to fly to Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem." (Susan Crabtree, Washington Times)
Hmm, the skies were sunny that morning when he visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial. But the afternoon sandstorm forced him to motorcade ("at a crawl") to visit the Palestinian-held city, holy to Jews and Christians.
Now it is a certitude among modern intellectuals that only rubes believe in signs and portents. Mere superstition, worthy of scorn, especially when it involves Christians raising their eyebrows at events that seem a little biblical (Lucianne Goldberg quipped that it could have been frogs or locusts) when they involve the sites that are more than a little biblical. So your average secular humanist liberal is going to dismiss this as nothing beyond coincidence, if she ever hears about it. I expect that most media will ignore the sandstorm, though most reported on The Beast that died, including the angle, later denied, that someone put gasoline in a diesel engine, or vice versa.
But not everybody in the world is so unimpressed with such coincidences and believes so fervently in a rationalist, materialist metaphysic. The leadership of Iran, for instance, and much of the population of the Middle East, for example.
High level politics, domestically and globally, are played out at a symbolic, as well as material level. These two events have a certain resonance that will implant them on countless millions of minds. C'mon, you have The Beast crippled and a thwarted aerial pilgrimage to the birthplace of the man candidate Obama called "his Savior," currently held by Muslims who have been progressively driving Christians out.
As the above still from the hit movie, The Mummy illustrates, a certain superstitious (if you will) awe at the forces of nature, and how they sometimes seem to be sending us messages, is deeply embedded in our consciousness. For the entire history of civilization, people have been reading signs and portents. The growth and then dominance of a scientific, rationalist, materialist mindset is a matter of the last couple of centuries.
The whole situation is hysterically funny to me. Having spent nearly my entire adult life in and around Cambridge and Berkeley, I know how hard it is going to be for my friends and neighbors to dismissmention of this cutural baggage as the ignorant and contemptible idiocy it must be.