Saturday, August 20, 2005

Salting the Mine

If you have never heard this expression before, salting the mine refers to an old scam. If you want to sell a worthless, played-out or empty gold mine, you open up a shotgun shell, replace the shot with gold ore, and blast it into the wall of your mine. Now, it looks like there’s a vein of ore in the wall, and all you have to do is come up with some plausible story as to why you are not digging it out yourself. Since the guy you’re trying to scam has gold fever, and wants to believe you, you don’t even have to work too hard at that story. If you think about it, the scammer is taking gold from a real mine and using it to give the illusion of value to a worthless hole in the ground. Which brings me to Evangelist, Author, and part-time bootlick to the rich and powerful, Stephen Mansfield. If you’re not familiar with this man and his personal version of the money machine, you can read about him here and read about some of the things he’s been up to here. I have to admit, he has found a path to success by hobbing with the “right” knobs. Heck, when the Protestants and the Catholics got into a little turf war in northern Iraq, he was right there, convincing both sides to act like one big happy Family. He has also found the beauty of diversifying to create several income streams. His latest literary work, “The Faith of the American Soldier” has elevated him to the status of war profiteer. His friends in high places love this I’m sure. By pointing out the honor and sacrifice of the common soldier, he is attempting to take that nobility and apply it to a military campaign that is an abuse of power and a misuse of that military commitment. Salting an empty shaft with the gold of human honor and hoping that no one will notice that it’s stolen, and incidentally, that he’s making money doing it. Oddly enough, this wasn’t a blatant enough attempt at confusion to raise my ire. This tool actually outdid himself. He found the need to involve himself in the vigil of Cindy Sheehan outside “Dubya’s” ranch in Crawford, Texas. In an open letter to Sheehan, that you can listen to on the NPR web site, Mansfield states that he is concerned that Cindy Sheehan’s actions will adversely affect the memory of her son and somehow tarnish his heroism. This is a despicable confusion of ideas. The actions of Casey Sheehan and the performance of his duty, leading to his death, cannot be altered by the actions of another.

Mansfield’s letter is a crude attempt to influence opinion. Unfortunately, it has a good chance of succeeding with people that refuse to look beneath the surface. He opens with false concern in a build up that is obvious to anyone who has ever read and understood Marc Anthony’s speech in “Julius Caesar”. I’m betting that he even thought he was being clever. I could take his speech apart sentence by sentence and find a problem with every one of them. He uses phrases like “what must be a disorienting swirl of world attention”, and “...must be among the most soul-wrenching experiences possible”. “Must be”, “should”, “has to be” is the language of a control freak. His inflection and cadence is that of someone who has grown confident in his ability to persuade others; someone who is used to talking down to people. He continues, “From your blogging on Michael Moore’s web site....” making the association to a name that his followers have already been told what to think about. Also, incidentally, making plain what has inspired this attempt at damage control. His arguments amount to little more than, “your actions could hurt the whole town!” He continues, saying that when a person joins the military, he “places himself on an altar of sacrifice.“ No. A soldier places him/herself in the hands of their officers. The “altar of sacrifice” view went out with the “cannon fodder” approach. He insists on using the language of symbolism, and wrapping these events in a shroud of abstraction and higher purpose. Nowhere does he talk about actual tactics or logistics. His is the language of the civilian, the armchair General, not the soldier. He actually says, ostensibly to Cindy Sheehan but really quite publicly, “His death, though a horror, was a horror with meaning.” And how was that play again, Mrs. Lincoln?


At 7:13 PM, Blogger Willy Jo said...

jesus H christ,

you dont hav any clue wat the GD hell you talkin bout, i mite have to take you out behind the wood shack and slap yous round a little.

just kiddin i like quars

At 4:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And again I say, WJ, how does it feel to be an obnoxious shit?

At 9:11 PM, Blogger Rev. Barky said...

This hyar Hepzibahen Mansfield guy muss be quar. All them senstiv spirt types is jest like wimmen inside. All they is doin' is lyin' an' lyin'. Yo' doesn't need jezuz at all - whut yo' need is t'be touched be th' flyin' sghetti monstur who crated us all, ah reckon.

At 2:00 AM, Blogger DUB said...

You have plainly called him out for what he is.

The only thing that shocks me more than how simple-minded and credulous the people are who buy this palaver, is the ultimate realization that the messenger is a complete fraud. I don't easily accept this as mere opinion - I firmly believe that people like Mr. Mansfield (Pat Robertson et al.) intentionally mislead an easily targeted demographic for personal gain. Either that or they're completely out of their friggin' minds. His chosen hustle of using the guise of morals to act completely unscrupulously is a special brand of hypocrisy.

I particularly enjoyed the spotlight you put on his use of language to mislead. His should be's are along the lines of the everybody knows that Creationists use, and the phrase "altar of sacrifice" was perfectly chosen for his target audience, who apply a synonym of "martyr" with the word sacrifice.


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