The Apotheosis of St. Christopher of Libya
Posted on 29 September 2012 by Maximilian Forte
“Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends,” the president said, quoting scripture.… “Because of these patriots, and because of you, this country that we love will always shine as a light onto the world.”
In an effort not to seethe further at the absurdity of U.S. imperial hagiography, with all of the execrable conceit of State Department spokespersons who construct hierarchies of good and bad humans which translates into an ordering of those who deserve to live and those who deserve to die, and their unlimited ability to project their own sins into fantasies of the other, I thought: why not help the U.S. State Department improve on the deification of its belligerent agents?
So, free of charge and without any expectation of gratitude, I produced the portrait below for them to hang in their halls of (temporary) power: “In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names ofthose who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble.
Our hearts break over each one. And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn”.
Otherwise, there is no helping them: their self-reverence has reached such an extreme that it is fully saturated.
Even a gentle breeze against a U.S. flag is enough agitation of their patriotic molecules for it to start raining praise. Patriotic, militaristic, imperial “Americans” simply cannot get over themselves–but that’s not the worst part.
The worst part is they expect the rest of us to genuflect. Any time one of theirs dies in a war of their choosing, they automatically ascend to heaven as “heroes”. American + death = hero.
They are exact replicas of the fundamentalists with whom they lock horns: death is always martyrdom. There is no raising the question in their minds that maybe given that Christopher Stevens as a fully complicit, anti-diplomatic actor who worked with insurgents to overthrow a government, resulting in the gory and sadistic death of its leader, the mass torture and lynching of thousands of civilians, and the total destruction of certain cities, might have himself earned the status of a legitimate target.
And he, and the rest of the CIA denat that consulate, were targeted, and quite legitimately.
There is really nothing to mourn here, save the willful blindness of some in refusing to accept that their actions carry consequences, and that on rare occasions they too can be made to pay for their offenses.
But they are the invincible and untouchable ones, so any picture of a U.S. citizen getting struck abroad is theologically unacceptable. These are definitely not people prepared to face their impending decline and crash as an imperial power–in fact, their leaders are doing everything imaginable to make their population’s landing the hardest possible.
The means to artificially sustain their imperial complex on life support, thanks to foreign lines of credit and printing more money, will not last much longer. They won’t just crash, they’ll splatter. Then Americans will discover that the people they hate the most on earth are other Americans.
Barack Obama and the State Department have produced the authorized legend of St. Christopher, repeated in large part as canonical truth by the mainstream corporate media which in the U.S. reported on the consulate attack with saddened eyes, somber tones, and furrowed brows–no abrupt switching here from the macabre scenes of Gaddafi’s lynching to the latest puppy doing tricks video. Obama’s words are enough to cause diabetes:
“Chris was a courageous and exemplary representative of the United States. Throughout the Libyan revolution, he selflessly served our country and the Libyan people at our mission in Benghazi. As Ambassador in Tripoli, he has supported Libya’s transition to democracy. His legacy will endure wherever human beings reach for liberty and justice”.
St. Christopher the liberator, in Obama’s words: “It’s especially tragic that Chris Stevens died in Benghazi because it is a city that he helped to save”. And what an easy save that was, while Sirte was ravaged and turned into a slaughter house that had all journalists making comparisons to Stalingrad, Grozny, you name it. That was done thanks to heavy NATO bombings that began in March 2011 and did not cease until late October 2011.
“How could this happen in a country we helped liberate?”
That’s what ABC’s Diane Sawyerasked, quoting Hillary Clinton herself. So now some Americans actually believe in self-designating themselves “liberators” of Libya, much like Mussolini’s Fascists did–Mussolini the “protector of Islam” loved by crowds in Tripoli. But we forget the fascist roots of humanitarian interventionism, even forgetting (not knowing) that the humanitarian protection of innocent civilians was Adolf Hitler’s own favourite pretext.
Has ABC been paying any attention at all to how Libya has instead continued to implode, that “liberation” has meant a continuation of civil war, that there are cleavages within fratricidal cleavages, and that Libya has been reduced to a basket case?
What liberation exactly?
It’s the liberation of U.S. fantasies, allowed to fly free and unbothered by history, by facts, and by the rivers of blood spilled by U.S. bombers.
Pouring on the genetically-modified corn syrup, Hillary Clinton said the following of this hallowed apostle of the brutality of U.S. interventionism:
“Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East….He joined the Foreign Service,learned languages, won friends for America in distant places, and made other people’s hopes his own”.“In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries. He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya. The world needs more Chris Stevenses. I spoke with his sister, Ann, this morning, and told her that he will be remembered as a hero by many nations”.
Looking for that untold, romantic adventure story, the U.S. media dutifully related snippets of Stevens the Libyan Revolutionary, who “was on literally on the rebels’ side“.
Their doctrinal insanity never ceases to amaze, especially when in making such statements they directly contradict all of their previous hallowed truths. In the early days and weeks of Libya’s war, the U.S. always insisted that the military intervention was all about “protecting civilians,” and not about regime change, and that it had no forces on the ground–all of which were proven to be lies just as quickly as they were uttered.
And yet here is Clinton herself admitting that the U.S. took a direct and covert role on one side of the conflict, completely converting Stevens from a diplomat into a belligerent. Whenever the U.S. says that this or that leader “must go,” they already have their operatives on the ground directly intervening–so their protests of innocence regarding Syria are just as fake.
“He loved Libya and Libyan people,” Stevens’ colleague wrote, calling him “legendary” –repeated by the so-called “free” media. Legendary? How about just mythical. How about not feeding your audiences so much of this chemically-treated bullshit that even your so-called “human rights” activists regurgitate it on reflex like loyal sons:
ABC was so beside itself, that even now it has not fixed the bizarre contradictions and errors in its own reports on Stevens–look at these:
“Stevens, 52 and single” becomes, “He leaves behind hiswife, Heather, and two young children, Samantha and Nathan”; or this interesting line, “Stevens…was killed Tuesday by militants in Gadhafi who stormed the Benghazi consulate”.
Militants inGadhafi, not Benghazi. When you hastily hash out some hero-tale on command, in a “news” report that mixes in so much of the State Department’s own releases without question, you are bound to just cock it all up. The propaganda keeps getting more and more amateurish.
So here is the U.S. mission to the UN spewing more vilification and demonization yesterday, in reaction to Robert Mugabe’s speech at the UN which simply called on the U.S. to condemn the brutal murder of Gaddafi, just as Zimbabwe had condemned both it and the killing of Stevens.
The U.S. accused Mugabe of reaching “a new low” (really? you mean you actually allowed him any space in your diatribes to go lower?), and in particular it said this:
“(Mugabe) cynically chose to compare the best of us with the worst of us, a ridiculous and abhorrent comparison that we reject in the strongest terms”.
And not be outdone in cynicism, the U.S. mission added, “President Mugabe had a chance yesterday to share with the international community his plans for reversing the downward spiral his rule has inflicted on the economy and people of Zimbabwe over the last three decades”.
How about they reflect on the downward spiral of the U.S. economy, imposed on the American people by corrupt, corporate-owned politicians, and the millions upon millions of Americans left without jobs, without homes, raising millions of their children not just in poverty but suffering actual hunger?
Such circumstances were unknown in Libya, before the U.S. destroyed it, rich and debt-free and generous with its money, unlike the U.S. And to keep on with the myth of the Zimbabwean basket case is simply to treat their fellow citizens as complete morons and illiterates.
The worst of us: there is a tradition in the U.S. of demonizing Gaddafi. General Alexander Haig, Reagan’s Secretary of State, referred to Gaddafi as, “a cancer that has to be removed;”
then Vice President George H.W. Bush described him as an “egomaniac who would trigger World War III to make headlines;”
an alleged moderate, former President Jimmy Carter spoke of Gaddafi as “subhuman,” while former President Gerald Ford said Gaddafi was a “bully” and also a “cancer;”
and, not to be left out, disgraced former President Richard Nixon said Gaddafi was “more than just a desert rat,” but also “an international outlaw,” and urged an international response to Gaddafi.
To cancer, subhuman, and rat, we would later add Reagan’s famous line that Gaddafi was a “mad dog”—the pattern of utter dehumanization and demonization of Gaddafi was set long before the first NATO bombs started to fall on Libya in March of 2011, as I detail in my latest book.
Comparing Gaddafi to Stevens? Mugabe would never do any such thing.
There is nothing that Stevens did that could ever compare with Gaddafi’s man-made river project, the free housing, the abolition of rent, the welfare guarantees, the free education and healthcare, the construction of new cities, and a population that grew by 600% under Gaddafi and which enjoyed an income and standard of living that were the highest on the African continent, and well above its Arab neighbours.
What could Stevens do to match that, when he could not even cover his own ass with a properly secured edifice?
And how many cities in Libya did Gaddafi destroy with aerial bombardments during his tenure? How many populations of whole towns did he displace to live in open air prison camps, like Tawargha, to suffer nightly hunting raids, rape, abduction, and seeing their children shot?
Libya has never seen worse crimes, apart from the time when it suffered at the hands of the Italians of course.
The best of us?
If that is the best of you–Christopher Stevens as the “best” American–then this legitimates every form of anti-Americanism.
Then again, if you are so quick to rank your own population in that manner, such that you have best Americans, those who actively die for empire, then the implication is that the rest are inferior, the worst Americans who live and who don’t serve empire.
Perhaps you don’t need others to be anti-American, when you are so good at it yourselves.
No doubt, possessed by their state religion, barely distinguishable from the worst and cruellest of colonial missionary Christianity, some anonymous trolls will want me to perform a public auto-da-fé, and declare that the greatest force for evil in the world today is this or that group fighting the U.S., such as the Taliban.
You know what? I will.
Just as soon as the Taliban drop atomic bombs on cities,
just as soon as they occupy the planet with a thousand military bases in 120 countries,
just as soon as their military spending surpasses that of the rest of the planet combined,
just as soon as they start overthrowing governments,
when they invade and occupy my country,
flying drones that murder civilians, and abduct people from the streets of Europe to fly them into oblivion and years of torture,
just as soon as they keep us under constant surveillance,
and just as soon as they threaten our budgets for schools and healthcare to build more weapons,
I will indeed condemn them as the greatest force for evil on this earth.
***You can read also: US ambassador killed in Benghazi, Libya
Maximilian C. Forte is a professor of anthropology in Montreal, Canada.
His opinions are his own and writes here entirely in a private capacity and not as a representative of any institution, which remains unnamed for these reasons.
He is the author of Ruins of Absence, Presence of Caribs: (Post)Colonial Representations of Aboriginality in Trinidad and Tobago (2005), and the editor of Indigenous Resurgence in the Contemporary Caribbean: Amerindian Survival And Revival (2006) and Indigenous Cosmopolitans: Transnational and Transcultural Indigeneity in the Twenty-First Century (2010).
For more, please see the main site for the Zero Anthropology Project. What follows is a very brief synopsis.
He started this site back in October of 2007, when it was called “Open Anthropology” and resembled more of a blog than it does now. On this site Max writes about militarism, themilitarization of the social sciences, U.S. foreign policy, imperialism,decolonization, the Human Terrain System, the Minerva Research Initiative, andAFRICOM. He also writes about anthropology after empire, and occasionally items about the Caribbean, with a mixture of humorous pieces, video posts, and fiction. His articles on Zero Anthropology have covered topics pertaining to Canada, the U.S., Trinidad & Tobago, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Iran, Iraq, Greece, Gaza, Libya, and Afghanistan. All of these articles are listed on the Contents page of this site, and categorized here. Also see the parent site for this project. Max is also a founding member of Anthropologists for Justice and Peace(AJP).
Max sometimes goes by the name of Dr. Rat (after being “accused” of defending “the rat people” of Afghanistan); he also goes by 1D4TW (“One Day for the Watchman”).
Here are some of Max’s main series on Zero Anthropology (to be updated as more material is added):
The ZERO SERIES (in progress):
- Welcome to ZERO ANTHROPOLOGY: The End of the Beginning of the End
- 0.20: “Potentially Dangerous Implications for the Practice of Anthropology Today”
- 0.19: Questions about Colonialism and Anthropology: Epistemology, Methodology, and Politics
- 0.189: Stanley Diamond & Claude Lévi-Strauss on the Nature and Future of Anthropology
- 0.185: Terms of Incorporation, Concepts of Domination
- 0.18: Anthropology and the Rise of the Social Sciences within the Structures of Knowledge – Immanuel Wallerstein
- 0.179: Imperialism, Americanization, and the Social Sciences
- 0.178: The Social Production of Science and Anthropology as Knowledge for Domination
- 0.171: Anthropology and the Will to Meaning: Vassos Argyrou
The HTS & MILITARIZATION SERIES (2010):
- 02 February 2010: Bibliography and Archive: The Military, Intelligence Agencies, and the Academy (with special reference to anthropology) – Documents, News, Reports – subsequent updates to be found here.
- 28 February 2010 (with subsequent updates): Mapping the Terrain of War Corporatism: The Human Terrain System within the Military-Industrial-Academic Complex.
- 04 March 2010: Multiplying Human Terrain Dreams of Victory and Fortune.
- 19 March 2010: Information Traffickers of the Imperial State: American Anthropologists and Other Academics.
- 27 March 2010: AFRICOM, Human Terrain, Empire, and Anthropology.
- 27 March 2010: Mercenary Humanism.
- 27 March 2010: CIA Feminism.
- 04 April 2010: 100 percent (Militarized) American.
- 20 May 2010: Imperial Instruction: The Human Terrain System’s Academic Trainers, Part 1.
- 20 May 2010: Imperial Instruction: The Human Terrain System’s Academic Trainers, Part 2.
- 21 May 2010: Human Terrain System Criticized by U.S. Congress.
- 28 May 2010: Time Line and FAQ for the Human Terrain System and Responses by the Network of Concerned Anthropologists and the American Anthropological Association.
- 29 May 2010: The Pentagon’s “Other” Human Terrain System?
- 29 May 2010: Changing Fortunes in Washington: The Evolution of House Armed Services Committee Reports on the Human Terrain System.
- 30 May 2010: SCRATs: AFRICOM after the Human Terrain System.
- 03 June 2010: Human Terrain System Video News: John Stanton, and the AGS Bowman Expeditions in Mexico.
- 07 June 2010: A Major Report of a Minor Exception, or a Minor Report of a Major Problem? The American Anthropological Association’s CEAUSSIC vis-à-vis the Human Terrain System, Part 1.
- 07 June 2010: A Major Report of a Minor Exception, or a Minor Report of a Major Problem? The American Anthropological Association’s CEAUSSIC vis-à-vis the Human Terrain System, Part 2.
The WIKILEAKS SERIES (2010): here you can get a complete list of all of my articles, wherever published, focusing on Wikileaks.
Max has also written over 200 posts on HTS, Minerva, and the militarization of academia, since this blog began–those items are all listed here.
ARAB REVOLUTIONS, LIBYA WAR SERIES (2011):
- The Fall of the American Wall: Tunisia, Egypt, and Beyond
- EE: Report #11, Focus on Egypt
- Encircling Empire: Report #12, FOCUS ON EGYPT: Revolution and Counter-Revolution
- The American Anthropological Association and Egypt: It’s Mostly About the Artifacts?
- Egypt and the Clinton Doctrine
- Encircling Empire: Report #13—Revolution, Intervention, Anthropology
- Globalization, Compression, and the Desire for Intervention
- Encircling Empire: Report #14—Foreign Military Intervention in Libya: A Report on Neo-colonial dependency and humanitarian imperialism
- The Libyan Revolution is Dead: Notes for an Autopsy
- The Humanitarian-Militarist Project and the Production of Empire in Libya
- Libya and the Passive Repeaters: Deploying Depleted Information Warheads
- Libya: What Revolution? Whose Revolution?
- The War in Libya: Race, “Humanitarianism,” and the Media, published in Essays on Empire at Open Salon
Starting in August of 2010, Max began authoring a series of monthly columns for Al Jazeera(Arabic and English websites):
- 08 August 2010: نواقص في تسريبات ويكيليكس
- 17 September 2010: الهجوم على ويكيليكس.. هل من مخرج؟
- 16 February 2011: مصر والإمبراطورية الأميركية
- 22 February 2011: “The Clinton doctrine: US reaction to events unfolding in the Arab world reveals the emergence of more insidious approach,” Al Jazeera English.
Also starting in August of 2010, a series of articles began to be produced forCounterPunch:
- 14 December 2010: Notes from the Insurrection: The Wikileaks Revolution
- 02 August 2010: Reason for Celebration, Cause for Concern: The Wikileaks Afghan War Diary — reprinted by Alternet as “7 Reasons Why We Should Celebrate Wikileaks, and 8 Reasons It’s Not the Panacea Some Are Calling It: The release of thousands of documents from the failed war in Afghanistan is a major milestone that should be celebrated. But it also opens up questions about Wikileaks.”
- 11 August 2010: Unhinged at the US State Department and Pentagon: A War on Wikileaks? – also republished on Mathaba — also translated into Spanish, appearing on Spain’s Rebelión, “¿Guerra contra Wikileaks? Desquiciados en el Departamento de Estado y el Pentágono;” and the latter became the basis for this article in the Venezuelan newspaper, Correo del Orinoco, “EEUU amenaza a los soldados que busquen consultar los documentos – El Pentágono pretende callar a Wikileaks.”
- 31 August 2011: The Top 10 Myths in the War Against Libya.
- “The War in Libya: Race, “Humanitarianism,” and the Media,” 20 April 2011–reprinted in Mathaba and Information Clearing House.
- “Libya — Lather, Rinse, Repeat — Syria: Liberal Imperialism and the Refusal to Learn,” 10 August 2011.