Salah al-Din's Capture of the True Cross at Hattin in 1187 CE (Matthæus Parisiensis, Chronica Maiora Volume I
[Corpus Christi College Library, Cambridge, MS 26], c.1250 CE)
Surveying the past twenty months of crass and exploitative howling of “BENGHAZI!!1!” has brought to mind the dialogue scripted between Balian and Salah al-Din in Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven (2005) at the surrender of Jerusalem in 1187 CE:
BALIAN: What is Jerusalem worth?What is “BENGHAZI!!1!” worth? What does “BENGHAZI!!1!” even mean? I contend that this right-wing obsession, manifest in Boehner's intent to form a House Select Committee under Trey Gowdy (SC-04), is simultaneously both meaningless and gravid with meaning. It is meaningless in the sense that the “new,” “smoking gun” evidence (the Ben Rhodes email) has been obviously, willfully and risibly misread. There will be no significant new evidence or substantive criticism of the reality-based and fact-rich report and recommendations from the Accountability Review Board. There is no “there” there, and there never has been.
SALAH AL-DIN: Nothing. [pause] Everything.
Yet that is not the point of “BENGHAZI!!1!”
No, “BENGHAZI!!1!” is foremost an emblazoned banner under which all manner of irrational criticisms and unhinged conspiracy theories can march. In that sense it is packed with meaning, with metanarratives that are—for those heeding its Siren's call—more real than reality.
Join me over the frassed piece of the True Cross for fuller commentary...
Yesterday, both Jed Lewison's Here's why the GOP is fired up about #Benghazi—and why they're wrong and Vyan's It's past time we admit the GOP has become a Delusional Conspiracy Cult offered concise, reality-based eviscerations (heh) of elements of Republican faith in a Benghazi "scandal," demonstrating the extent to which the electoral-politics dimension (Jed) and the Ben Rhodes email dimension (Vyan) of the "scandal" are a nothing-burger... hell, a whole nothing-Happy-Meal.
Yet "BENGHAZI!!1!" is ultimately not about the tragic events in Benghazi on 11/12 September 2012. It is a slogan impervious to the forms of logic and reason applied by Jed and Vyan. The proposed House Select Committee will undoubtedly have "Benghazi" in its name, but the intent of the hearings has much less to do with the events in Benghazi per se than with providing a forum and "expert witnesses" to allude to the myriad conspiracy theories related to President Obama and his policies and decisions ("the Obama Doctrine") in the Middle East and North Africa, exercised through Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry.
True, the Select Committee will likely not call on Pamela Geller, Frank Gaffney, Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, David Yerushalmi et alii directly for testimony. Yet I do not doubt that their hateful rhetoric vis–à–vis President Obama and his policies will be encoded in the testimony of GOP-approved "expert witnesses" from conservative think-tanks and policy-institutes allied to Fear, Inc.
It's not about Benghazi. It's about blowing the dogwhistles of ethnicity and religion. It's about the Clash of Civilizations. Fundamentally, it's about the right-wing metanarrative that President Obama has surrendered the True Cross and Jerusalem to Salah al-Din.