Saturday, February 9, 2008

Repositioning the Devil for our New Age

Dear George,

Hugo Chavez had it all wrong comparing you to the Devil. When he followed your appearance at the United Nations on September 20, 2006, he said he was following the Devil and that, “It smells of sulfur still today. “

My God, George, sulfur is so yesterday! What Hugo failed to understand is that the Devil’s been repositioned, he’s had an image makeover. Gone are the cloven feet, the horns, the tail, the pitchfork and the stench of sulfur.

You no longer meet the Devil in Hell or at a moonlit crossroads. Today, you meet him at the mall. He comes striding towards you dressed in his Dockers™, his penny loafers and a blue, oxford dress shirt, unbuttoned at the collar. His face is open and smiling, and as he takes your hand, you look into his gentle eyes and feel your cares and worries fall away.

Evil has gone mainstream; it is now part of the mundane order of things. What once produced shock now produces a bored yawn.

I am going to dip into a little history, here, so try to stay awake. During the Spanish Civil War, a German air squadron dropped 100,000 pounds on the town of Guernica, killing 1,600 people. The world was appalled. It moved Picasso to create “Guernica”, a painting that stirred moral outrage in all who viewed it.

Fast forward 71 years and what do we find? Silence! On January 21st of this year, our Air Force dumped 100,000 pounds of explosives on the farmland of Arab Jabour south of Baghdad. Instead of journalistic outrage, the incident was buried in the twenty-sixth paragraph of a Los Angeles Times story.

The aerial bomb is the bread and wine of our New-Age sacrament. Its litany sanitizes and deodorizes evil. Instead of the cry of the savage, we now have the soothing drone of the official spokesman. Instead of blood and broken bodies, we have collateral damage. Aerial bombardments on civilian populations are simply strikes intended to “shape the battlefield” by “neutralizing any advantage the enemy could claim.”

Our bombs are smart bombs, we are told, precision instruments that zero in on their targets, as long as one ignores the theory of circle area probability that states only fifty percent of bombs dropped actually hit them. It’s the ones that miss that cull the herd.

Moral outrage is dead, George, and the world is a better place because of it. Though, I admit, sometimes it is a little too sanitized for my taste. I miss the good old days when Evil was a monster striding over the earth with blood and viscera dripping from his fangs. I miss the publicity it once generated; I miss the grainy black and white films of bodies being bulldozed into open trenches. But, this is the price we pay for dressing evil in respectability. It certainly makes your job much easier.

Someone should tell Chavez that the smell the Devil leaves in his wake isn’t sulfur, it’s Old Spice™.

Your admirer,
Belacqua Jones

3 comments:

thepoetryman said...

I am going to dip into a little history, here, so try to stay awake.

Hoooo Aggghhh!

Damn it! I was just thinking as I was reading the end of the letter, right around dressing evil in respectability, and I swear I thought of instead of the smell of sulfur "Old Spice" and then I read the last line and fortunately I was not drinking coffee. (I have learned my lesson and do not drink anything while I read your letters.)

Case Wagenvoord said...

U'r right. Keep the coffe cup in the kitchen.

muymalgal said...

y'all are creeping me out here. as i was reading the last letter i almost choked to death on my coffee. just recovering, so...i guess i will just wait for the portal to open up and suck me through. (i hope i can grab my cats in time!)
ps love the letters!