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With James Bond In One Hand and Jesus In The Other...


by Gary Gordon
November 30, 2002

Now that the Turkey has been consumed and the Indians are back on the Res, we can turn our eyes to the bulk of the holiday season, and beyond.

If there’s no war, or a short one, and retailers can once again gain a foothold in the Sisyphean slope often slippery with Economic Indicators and Hyperbole, we can all look forward to a brighter 2003.

There is some optimism, despite the ACLU suggesting that John Ashcroft et al have already begun carving up the Bill of Rights like a Pilgrim in heat. Morality is back, as evidenced by the new campaign to Wake Up America: What Would Jesus Drive?

This, it turns out, is no joke.

After all, President Bush declared during his ill-fated yet victorious campaign that he would be guided by the question, What Would Jesus Do? Of course, many of us made the error in assuming that he, Bush, would then actually do what Jesus would do. Or maybe Jesus would launch a pre-emptive strike? Hnnn, doubtful.

Apparently the thrust of this ad is similar to a campaign launched by the ubiquitous yet charming Arianna Huffington et al: if you drive the “wrong” vehicle, your consumption of gasoline helps the terrorists. This follows on the heels of the government’s ad campaign that argues that if you buy illegal drugs your consumption helps the terrorists.

The thinking, or what passes for it, in these ads is that sale of these products puts money in the hands of the terrorists who then use the money to buy guns.

This raises the question, where are the ads about arms sales? Last year the U.S. led the world in arms sales again, posting just under $18.6 billion in sales, which accounted for almost half of the international arms sale total.

Developing nations, in need of weapons to eliminate other developing nations, were the primary purchasers of American product, outpaced only by the Arab Emirates, who may or may not be terrorists, depending on whose Patriot Act is being gored.

Russia sold $7.7 billion, France sold $4.1 billion, Germany sold $1.1 billion; and Britain and China each sold less than $750 million. Russia’s biggest customer was Iran; China’s biggest was Pakistan.

Doesn’t selling arms put guns in the hands of terrorists?

Perhaps someday there will be an ad aimed right at this target: What Would Jesus Shoot?

So while the conversation at the Table at the Sunday Main Street Farmer’s Market meandered between the evisceration of the Bill of Rights, the history of Tom Petty’s band, the fascinating panel discussion on Face The Nation (with Bob Woodward, Michael Bechloss, Garry Wills and David Halberstam), the sighting of Jackson Brown at the Market, and Penny’s suggestion for a support local business campaign in the midst of the War on Terror (“If You don’t shop, They win”), I pursued the WWJD question.

If taken seriously, as it is intended, the question of what Jesus would drive leads to a whole spate of questions that we must answer: what kind of house would Jesus live in? What kind of neighborhood? What, if any, security system would he have? Where would he send his kids (presuming marriage, which then begs the question, who would Jesus marry? This of course is the kind of question that can apparently provoke riots when asked regarding Muhammed.)

What would Jesus watch on TV? Mr. Rogers, or NYPD Blue, or both?

What would Jesus invest in? Where would Jesus shop? Where would he vacation? Would he participate in CNN and ESPN on-line polls, even though they’re not scientific? What kind of music would he enjoy? What charities would he give to? And, of personal interest, whom would he vote for?

And, in a world that not only asks What Would Jesus Drive, but answers in some way that things would change, would there be a role for James Bond?

As I went to see the latest Bond film, a documentary on the strained relations between the Free World and North Korea (an Official Member of the Axis of Evil), I remembered that my Dad, who introduced me to Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, also introduced me to Bond.

“From Russia With Love”, the second Bond film, was the first one I saw. It was not about explosions. It was about a Russian coding machine about the size of a typewriter. Bond’s mission was to get it. He did. His fancy weapon was a briefcase that contained a knife. With cunning and guile and a briefcase with a knife and great theme music, he saved the world.

And with that coding machine, Kennedy was able to tell what the Russians were up to in Cuba.

...Okay. I made up that last part. It wasn’t just the coding machine. It was the Office of Homeland Security, with its coordinated intelligence branches, working hand-in-hand with the Coast Guard, Frodo and Spiderman--

...Unnn, I think I made that up, too.

Next came “Goldfinger”, then “Thunderball”, and my dad and I saw each of them. It was one of our annual shared experiences. Boy Scouts. Star Trek. The World Series. James Bond. The movies and the books.

Even as we began to part on the Vietnam war, we still shared these things. And I saw no contradiction in cheering Bond and opposing the war until I heard Tom Hayden speak at an anti-war rally. He was clearly upset with a culture that embraced a spy who had a “license to kill”.

Now we are embracing spies all over the place. To paraphrase one of the Bond titles, we are Loving The Spy Who Spied On Us. We are willing to give up rights if we can maintain the right to give up rights, or something like that. We are willing to give up freedoms if we can maintain more freedom than the next guy who is less free because he never had the freedoms that we have freely chosen to give up, or something like that.

We’ve got spies spying on Them over there, on Them here, on Us over there, on Us here, and on each other. Mad Magazine said it best: Spy vs. Spy vs. Spy.

And frankly, I’m not sure which historical character to ask about this. In my heritage, one might ask What Would Ezekiel Drive? Jeep makes a Cherokee, but not a Chariot. I can’t imagine asking What Would Moses Do? And I’d hate to ask What Would Muhammed Drive, for fear of starting a riot in Nigeria.

What I can imagine is opening the newspaper next week and seeing a headline: Bond Kills Bin Laden, Captures Saddam Hussein. And although Iraq is not the only nation that ought to have a Regime Change, I don’t think I’d have a problem with that.

President Nixon once said “those who wave the peace sign with one hand and throw bombs with the other are the biggest hypocrites of our time.” An astute political cartoonist then drew him saying that at a podium emblazoned with the Great Seal of the U.S. (An Eagle with an olive branch in one claw and arrows in the other, in case you forgot.)

Now we have James Bond in one hand, and Jesus in the other.

Martinis should be shaken, not stirred, and the meek shall inherit the Earth.

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