Describing the darkness
In the high-powered, highly armed shadows of our world, shady characters engage in shady activity. How shall we speak about them? Shall we name and blame with all the virulence we can muster, fueling our tanks of righteousness with outrage? Or shall we stick closer to the facts and shy away from the pointed emotions? What does love require of us as we face what seems like deep darkness?
Erik is evil
adapted from a blog post by Bill Millar
“Cruella De Vil, Cruella De Vil
If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will”
I was 8 when 101 Dalmations came out, and Cruella de Vil was, for the longest time, the face of evil in my mind. Clearly she was what evil people looked like, skinny with unmistakably nasty eyes. It was, perhaps, too dangerous to think evil might look like Roger or Anita, the nice couple who loved the puppies. Others may have felt the same.
Unfortunately we were duped. Evil is more likely to look something like Erik Prince. He’s the CEO and founder of Blackwater, a private mercenary army with the largest private military base in the world, some 20 aircraft, forces deployed in nine countries, and 21,000 “contractors” at the ready. The company has been contracted by the Bush administration to work in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Erik Prince is a dedicated fundamentalist Christian from a family with ties to some of the most powerful right-wing Christian organizations in the world, including Focus on the Family and the Council for National Policy.
He created a foundation bizarrely named “The Freiheit Foundation.” Freiheit is German for liberty, but Erik isn’t German. Anyone suggesting links to Arische Freiheit (“Aryan Freedom”) would be way too conspiratorial. Wouldn’t they?
Erik doesn’t seem evil, he’s strongly pro-family and pro-life. He may have a cocker spaniel, a pretty wife and a garden with tulips. He’s nothing at all like Cruella. But a major war-profiteer, the CEO of a mercenary army… doesn’t that seem a bit at odds with the ethos of Jesus, who said, “Love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you”?
As Christians, we need to start asking the questions Bonhoeffer asked: at what point do we give up our silence, our comfortable acquiescence, as we watch evil take root?
Bill Millar is the minister of Knox United Church in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The monster he fears/respects is the one within us, the gnawing incompletion that leads some to destruction and cruelty and others to spirituality, creativity, solidarity.
Privatization of war
“We must promote a more entrepreneurial approach: one that encourages people to… behave less like bureaucrats and more like venture capitalists.” – Donald Rumsfeld, in Foreign Affairs magazine, 2002
Since June 2004 Blackwater has received $750 million in State Department contracts. Among those, it received $21 million in a no-bid contract to protect Iraq proconsul Paul Bremer.
“[Blackwater] has in effect declared its forces above the law entitled to the immunity from civilian lawsuits enjoyed by the military, but also not bound by the military’s court martial system.” – Jeremy Scahill, in The Nation magazine, April 2, 2007. Scahill is author of New York Times bestselling book, Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
“We think about 40 cents of every dollar [spent on the Iraq occupation] goes to private military contractors. We think about 800 of them have been killed in Iraq, but we don’t know that. They’re not even counted. And we think there’s about 25,000 to maybe 40,000 engaged in… combat-related activities. But we don’t know and we can’t find out.” – Representative Jan Schakowsky, member of the House Intelligence Committee
Blackwater staff include:
Cofer Black – former head of the CIA’s counter terrorism center. He led the hunt for Osama.
Robert Richer – former CIA Deputy Director of Operations.
Ken Starr – he headed the impeachment charge against Bill Clinton.
Fred Fielding – served as a lawyer for Blackwater before replacing Harriet Miers as White House counsel.
Joseph Schmitz – as former Pentagon Inspector General, he was responsible for policing contractors like Blackwater.
Erik Prince – served as an intern in the Bush, Sr. White House.