NRA: You know who else was an evil, homicidal tyrant?

Nicolae: The Rise of Antichrist; pp. 116-120

Buck Williams is studying — carefully reading through the notes and sermons from Bruce Barnes’ computer:

Late in the afternoon, Chicago time, Buck broke from the fascinating reading of Bruce Barnes’s writing and finally got through to Chaim Rosenzweig.

That word “finally” there confirms what we already suspected about Buck’s “reading” — that it just means he had Bruce’s papers in front of him while he dialed and redialed his phone.

Buck has been trying to reach Chaim in the hopes that he can help Buck find the born-again Rabbi Tsion Ben-Judah. Chaim Rosenzweig is a high-level assistant to the Antichrist and Ben-Judah is the Antichrist’s Public Enemy No. 1, so it’s a bit strange to seek Chaim’s help with this. But since Chaim and Tsion are the only Jews Buck knows, he figures they must also know each other. And since that’s how these books work, they do.

“Cameron! I have finally talked live with our mutual friend. Let us not mention his name on the phone.”

Just in case anyone is listening in, it’s best to avoid drawing their suspicion by mentioning that you don’t want to draw their suspicion.

“It was a strange message, Cameron. He simply said that you would know whom to talk with about his whereabouts.”

“That I would know?”

“That’s what he said, Cameron. That you would know.”

Buck seems puzzled by this, but readers will be reminded that I was wrong above to say Buck only knows two Jews — he actually knows four, with the other two being Moses and Elijah. Yes, the actual patriarch Moses and the actual prophet Elijah from the Hebrew scriptures. Buck and Tsion met them in the last book at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, where they have returned to act as evangelical Christian street preachers. This is Tim LaHaye’s idea of the “Two Witnesses” from the book of Revelation.

The evangelistic technique of these two witnesses doesn’t seem very promising. Mostly they’re just chanting “Jesus is Lord,” which is a succinct statement of what Christians believe, but not a particularly persuasive approach to winning converts. There’s also the problem that anyone who comes forward during their altar call tends to get burned to cinders by giant flames shooting out of their mouths.

The Two Witnesses have been out there for more than a year now and it seems that Buck and Tsion were the only two people who have been allowed to approach to speak to them. They confirmed to Buck and Tsion that they are, indeed, Moses and Elijah, returned to the Earth. That seems like a newsworthy bit of information, but Buck never reports it through his news organization. It also seems like a compelling piece of information that might serve as a persuasive attention-getter for Tsion’s own evangelistic ministry, but he seems to be keeping it a secret too.

All told, the Two Witnesses could use a refresher course in my Four Essential Rules for Street Preaching:

1. Speak clearly in a loud voice.

2. If you’ve returned from beyond the grave, lead with that.

3. Don’t kill everyone who tries to talk to you.

4. Give a clear, concise presentation of Christian belief.

They’ve got the first and the fourth one down, but still need practice on the other two.

Anyway, readers here on page 117 quickly realize that Buck will need to talk to Moses and Elijah to reconnect with his friend Tsion. Buck himself will figure that out in about another 30 pages.

We return to Rayford Steele. When last we saw him, we were slogging through an elaborate multi-page set-up in which it was arranged to have Nicolae Carpathia’s top-secret meeting with his 10 global princes on the airplane, where Rayford (and therefore readers) would be able to listen in.

But then Rayford got off the plane.

Fortunately, instead of a top-secret meeting, Nicolae will be making another global broadcast, and Rayford and readers will still be able to listen in by watching it on television in the Baghdad airport terminal. So it all works out. We don’t actually hear what Nicolae says in his broadcast anyway, just Rayford’s distracted impression of the gist of it:

It was clear Carpathia had completely effected his will and spin onto the news directors at every venue. While the stories carried the horrifying pictures of war, bloodshed, injury, and death, each also spoke glowingly of the swift and decisive action of the potentate in responding to the crisis and crushing the rebellion.

Rayford stops watching before Nicolae begins to speak:

Rayford shook his head and went to a desk in the corner, where he found stationery from a Middle Eastern airline and began composing a letter to Earl Halliday’s wife.

The Antichrist’s Global Community has consolidated all governments, all banks, all religions, all currencies and all languages. But the airlines apparently all continue as independent, private sector businesses.

Logic told Rayford he should not feel responsible. … Rayford didn’t even know yet how Earl had been killed. Perhaps everyone on his flight to Glenview had perished. All he knew was that the deed had been done, and Earl Halliday was no more.

If you’re thinking I skipped the scene where Earl died, that’s because the authors did too. There was a scene in which Earl feared Nicolae wanted him dead, and there was a scene in which Fortunato said they would need a replacement for Earl after he gets dealt with, but this is the closest we get to a scene confirming that any of that ever really happened.

As he sat trying to compose a letter with words that could never be right, he felt a huge, dark cloud of depression begin to settle on him. He missed his wife. He missed his daughter. He grieved over his pastor. He mourned the loss of friends and acquaintances, new and old.

Like, for instance, his old acquaintance Irene. Or whatsisname, the kid.

Rayford knew he was not responsible for what Nicolae Carpathia meted out against his enemies. The terrible, dark judgment on the earth rendered by this evil man would not stop if Rayford merely quit his job. Hundreds of pilots could fly this plane. He himself had learned it in half an hour. He didn’t need the job, didn’t want the job, didn’t ask for the job.

And yet here he is, doing the job. For the Antichrist.

Twice now in two pages Rayford has reminded himself that he is not “responsible” for the evil deeds he is facilitating by collaborating with the Antichrist. He’s working his way through many of the classic rationalizations: If he didn’t do it, someone else would; he’s only doing his job/following orders.

These rationalizations are familiar, so let’s step back and deal with that familiarity.

How does Godwin’s Law* apply to a story about the Antichrist?

In Tim LaHaye’s “Bible prophecy” mythos, the Antichrist will be a global dictator and tyrant and the epitome of evil. The Antichrist, LaHaye insists, will be the cruelest and most evil leader the world has ever known.

So I’m afraid we’re going to have to Godwin this thread, because, by definition, the Antichrist must be worse than Hitler.

That’s a difficult, in some ways offensive, idea to grasp in trying to read these books. We’ve already got an idea in our heads of what superlative evil looks like, and these books’ claim that the Antichrist will be even more evil than that can seem like disrespect to the gravity of the real, historical evils this Antichrist is supposed to surpass, and to seem like disrespect to the real, actual people who really suffered under such evil regimes.

It takes a bit of mental wrangling, then, to keep in mind that Nicolae Carpathia is supposed to be worse than Hitler, that the Global Community is supposed to be worse than the Third Reich.

But what does that mean for our hero, Rayford Steele, who is a personal assistant to the Antichrist and a high-ranking officer in his regime? The authors have stressed that Rayford has “Clearance level 2-A” — the highest level of security clearance, reserved for the highest ranking servants of the Antichrist who work personally and intimately with this worse-than-Hitler tyrant.

I suspect that the authors would cry foul if they heard us make the comparison this invites and demands, but how can we not ask? What makes Rayford Steele any different from a Nazi collaborator?

I think Jerry Jenkins is trying to address just that question here with all of Rayford’s soul-searching. The problem is that Rayford’s own justifications sound like he’s cribbing from Burt Lancaster in Judgment at Nuremberg.

And then Rayford’s justifications get even worse:

He didn’t need the job, didn’t want the job, didn’t ask for the job. Somehow, he knew God had placed him there.

That’s right, it’s God’s will that Rayford collaborate with Nazis.

On one level, this is just another appalling example of Piperism — the shallow, Panglossian theology that holds that everything that happens must be God’s will because if it wasn’t God’s will then it wouldn’t have happened. But even John Piper isn’t quite as enthusiastic as the authors are here in attributing evil directly to God.

Look again at that phrase above, “The terrible, dark judgment on the earth rendered by this evil man.” The Antichrist himself can say, along with his collaborator Rayford, that “Somehow, he knew God had placed him there.”

The “terrible, dark judgment on the earth rendered” by the Antichrist is always exceeded in these books by the even more terrible and darker judgment on the earth rendered by God. The authors constantly give what sounds like a perverse rendition of the people’s song in 1 Samuel: “Nicolae has slain his thousands, but Jesus his tens of thousands.”

Somehow, he knew God had placed him there. For what? Was this surprising bugging of the intercom system by Earl Halliday a gift directly from God that allowed Rayford to somehow protect a few from the wrath of Carpathia?

Already he believed it had saved his daughter and son-in-law from certain death in the Chicago bombings, and now, as he looked at television reports from America’s West Coast, he wished there had been something he could have done to have warned people in San Francisco and Los Angeles of their impending doom.

As we’ve already discussed, repeatedly, there was plenty he could have done to warn people. He chose not to.

He chose, instead, to send his wife back to Chicago to check on his daughter, and in order to ensure her safety he did nothing to warn anyone in San Francisco or to attempt to interfere in the slaughter that he, as Nicolae’s pilot, was helping to ensure.

Rayford Steele is charged with being a collaborator complicit in all the evil of the Antichrist’s wicked regime. Here is Jerry Jenkins’ three-part defense of Rayford:

If he didn’t do it, someone else would.

And he’s only doing his job.

And he has to protect his own family, first, before sticking his neck out for anyone else.

The prosecution rests.

- – - – - – - – - – - -

* For those not familiar with all Internet traditions, Wikipedia has a good summary of “Godwin’s Law.” The key points are the law itself:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

And the customary corollary:

There is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.

  • aunursa

    The Two Witnesses have been out there for more than a year now and it seems that Buck and Tsion were the only two people who have been allowed to approach to speak to them.

    IIRC Buck and Tsion were the only two who didn’t try to kill them.  Several religious Jews tried to kill them. Because in L&J’s world, Israeli Jews have this habit of responding to evangelism by trying to murder the evangelists.

  • walden

    Ah yes, “Renfield” Steele. 
    He’s doing what he has to do….for the count (er, potentate).
    But he feels bad about it.

    How are those rats tasting?

  • Tofu_Killer

    So this always bothered me about the Trib Force moles; what is Clearance 1-A reserved for, and who gets it? I thought maybe Hattie, but she turns out to have bupkiss for pull with the Big Bad Nico, and they kind of make it clear that Fortunato has the same clearance as Rayford and Buck…so is Clearance 1-A on hold for Turbo Jesus?

    Anyway, the clearance 2-A seems to be good enough for the witnesses at the wall.

    The weird access that the Tribbies have to teh witnesses just confirmed for me that L&J really believe that God set up this whole Post Rapture period of Tribulation to save the four or five members of the Tribulation Force that they think get it right. Kind of a really nasty version of the Good Shepherd, where the shepherd uses a machete to cut his way through the rest of his flock to rescue his one special lost lamb that got locked in the Land Rover on a really hot day and all the windows are rolled up.

  • fraser

    First?
    Question: Didn’t Rayford say in last week’s section that he was the only pilot who could fly that plane?

  • Chris

    And the L&J corollary:  As the reader gets farther down the page, the probability the main characters do something despicable approaches one.

  • GeniusLemur

    “If he didn’t do it, someone else would.”
    Yeah, but what if no one else would? Wouldn’t it be great if everybody in the room just sat down and refused to obey his orders? His pilot, his communications expert, his soldiers… just refused his orders? Trapped him alone, on some isolated airfield? Brought down the antichrist with their raw conviction and courage? Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that be very Christian?

  • http://profiles.google.com/vlowe7294 Vaughn Lowe

    ” Hundreds of pilots could fly this plane. He himself had learned it in half an hour. ”

    Hold it, hold it.  Back up.  Didn’t we just hear last week that only Ray the Amazing Super Pilot could fly GC1?  Wasn’t there a whole conversation about how he couldn’t take a nap because Nicky had to get to Babylon?

  • fraser

    Great assessment, Fred. It’s a classic example of “Well, I feel really, really, really tormented about being bad, so that proves I’m a good person.” (At a lower level of unethical behavior, consider the song ‘Lips of an Angel’ in which the singer expects us to feel his great pain because he’s cheating with someone hot and can’t help himself. Yeah, right).
    LOVE the street-preaching rules. But I thought they didn’t breathe fire, they just killed people with heart attacks? Or have they broadened their repertoire?
    ” “Cameron! I have finally talked live with our mutual friend. Let us not mention his name on the phone.” ” Coupled with the Hitler reference it makes me think of one or two pre-Pearl Harbor WW II spy films in which the spies would pointedly emphasize that they’re not identifying themselves with any one nation so it’s not like the film is taking a political stance or anything.

  • fraser

    And even at the time LH&J were writing this, the idea that only someone as eeeeevil as Nicky Maunaloa would actually spin war news to make himself look like a strong leader was laughably outdated.

  • aunursa

    Logic told Rayford he should not feel responsible. … Rayford didn’t even know yet how Earl had been killed. Perhaps everyone on his flight to Glenview had perished. All he knew was that the deed had been done, and Earl Halliday was no more.

    This will come as no surprise to anyone who has been following this blog for any length of time: Rayford never finds out how Earl was killed.  Rayford never even attempts to find out.  After Rayford finishes the letter, Earl Halliday and his widow are hardly even mentioned.  Oh, except for a brief mention near the end this book and in Book #4 — both times referring to the bugging system that was installed so that Rayford the readers could listen in to the Antichrist’s discussions.

    In fact, Rayford has no actual evidence that Halliday is in fact dead other than the fact that Carpathia referred to Hernandez and him as “our late friends.”  Perhaps they were able to fake their own deaths and escape to a better-written apocalyptic series.

  • aunursa
    He didn’t need the job, didn’t want the job, didn’t ask for the job. Somehow, he knew God had placed him there.

    That’s right, it’s God’s will that Rayford collaborate with Nazis.

    Actually that makes perfect sense when we realize that God is Jerry Jenkins.

  • Carstonio

    I could see the storytelling value in defining Rayford this way if it was a precursor to him developing a conscience, where he wakes up to the reality of the evil he’s helping to perpetuate. Of course, this presumes a different team of writers.

    Having Nicolae out-Hitler Hitler seems like a contest, at least a storytelling one. John Byrne had General Zod wipe out all life on a pocket-universe version of Earth. What would Nicolae do, torture puppies for fun?

  • flat

    Let’s talk about another dictator for once: Joseph Stalin was such a one man killing bureaucrat that there is a margin of error of ten million about all those people who were killed.

    If Nicky matterhorn is going to do better he needs atleast a higher margin of error about all the people he has killed.

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/the-4-worst-famous-relatives-people-managed-to-live-down/
    ps be glad that you never got personally involved with anyone on this list.

  • Random_Lurker

    Godwin’s Corollary operates on the assumption that a discussion of Hitler’s Nazis is not directly related to the subject.  Since the subject here is evil totalitarian governments, I think it’s a pretty relevant comparison.

  • Eamon Knight

    The movie “Downfall” is bracketed by modern interview footage with a now-elderly Traudl Junge (one of Hitler’s secretaries in the bunker). She admits to having been horribly, culpably, naive about what her boss was doing — one can *almost* pity, though not excuse, her as a fool. Rayford has no such excuse. But then, unlike Junge, the one who put him in the situation of Personal Help To Evil Bastard — ie. the “superior” whose orders he is really following — is God. Such is the morally bankrupt logic of PMD eschatology.

  • aunursa

    From Wikipedia:

    The law and its corollaries would not apply to discussions covering known mainstays of Nazi Germany such as genocide, eugenics or racial superiority, nor, more debatably, to a discussion of other totalitarian regimes or ideologies, if that was the explicit topic of conversation, since a Nazi comparison in those circumstances may be appropriate…

  • Anton_Mates

    But since Chaim and Tsion are the only Jews Buck knows, he figures they must also know each other. And since that’s how these books work, they do.

    In fairness, they’re not just both Jewish; they’re both well-known academics working for the government in a country of 7-8 million people.  They’re not guaranteed to know each other–physiophysicobiogeneticochemical scientist-engineers and rabbinical scholars don’t necessarily go to the same conferences–but it’s certainly worth checking.

    aunursa,

    Several Orthodox Jews tried to kill them. Because in L&J’s world,
    religious Jews have this habit of responding to evangelism by trying to murder the evangelists.

    Did the Jews try to kill them?  I thought they just rolled around on the ground and howled about the white devils had offended their great juju or something.  I don’t remember if the trip-and-fall guys were ever revealed as belonging to any particular religion, but the first guy to actually get incinerated was a militant Muslim, as was obvious by his ratty beard and gold jewelry.

  • Adamlangfelder

    Rayford Steele: guilty as charged

  • GeniusLemur

    It’s absurd to expect Rayford to remember the Earl/Bruce/Irene. When people are dead, you can’t call them on the phone. So what good are they?

  • GeniusLemur

    And the same goes for Jenkins, too.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    The Two Witnesses have been out there for more than a year now and it seems that Buck and Tsion were the only two people who have been allowed to approach to speak to them.

    If they have been there for a year, and are impervious to all harm, and the Anti-Christ wants them forcibly shut up, you would think that he would have taken steps to, say, build a wall around the area in which they are preaching and throw a canopy over the top.  

    The goal not being so much to stop them from preaching (because he obviously cannot) but to stop others from listening.  Maybe they try to break out in the attempt to wall them in, and do so effortlessly.  Well, so what?  Nicky has an entire world’s resources worth to play with, not like a few bricks and mortar are going to hurt the budget, and he is the Anti-Christ, what does he care if a few construction workers get killed in the attempt?  How can we accept that this man can build an entire functional city in the middle of an uninhabited stretch of desert and yet not find a way to cap these bozos in?  

  • aunursa

    “One has an Uzi automatic weapon and the other a bayonet-type knife that appears to have come from an Israeli-issue military rifle.”

    Left Behind, p 330

    It doesn’t explicitly state that he is Jewish.  And I believe you are correct that there is an incident in which a Muslim is incinerated.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If ever there was an unself-conscious portrayal of the banality of indifference…

    Rayford pretty much nails it.

  • everstar

    I’ve always been mildly irritated with Godwin’s Law because it implies that all references to Hitler and/or Naziism are hyperbolic and unworthy of entertaining.  While I think this is true in nearly every case, there are those few cases where I feel it’s important not to ignore possible historical parallels.

    By the way, Fred, shouldn’t Rule #2 be Rule #1 by its own logic?  It’s a bit like the court scene in Alice in Wonderland:

    ‘It’s the oldest rule in the book,’ said the King.

    ‘Then it ought to be Number One,’ said Alice.

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

     In fact, Rayford has no actual evidence that Halliday is in fact dead
    other than the fact that Carpathia referred to Hernandez and him as “our
    late friends.”  Perhaps they were able to fake their own deaths and
    escape to a better-written apocalyptic series.

    Earl Halliday slowly opened his eyes, allowing his pupils, unready for such a sudden glare, to slowly contract.  The light wasn’t from one of Nicolae’s torturer’s sun lamp.  He was outside.  The light was actually the real Sun.  He shielded his eyes and looked around, taking in what he could.

    He was lying in a field that appeared to be on the edge of a small town or possibly just a residential development in a city somewhere.  The homes were nondescript, middle class, mostly red brick and muted shades of aluminum siding.

    The bright light dimmed slowly, then seemed to go out completely.  He looked up an saw that thick, black clouds were rolling across the sky.  No, those weren’t clouds.  It was something else.  Soot, maybe.  Ash.

    He realized the ground was shaking.  He’d gotten so used to Nicholae’s tanks rumbling around outside the basement cell where he’d been kept that he’d forgotten that the ground wasn’t supposed to do that.  An earthquake, maybe?

    He turned away from the houses and saw now that there was a road on the other side of the field.  The sky was almost pitch black on the other side of the narrow, asphalt strip.  Something at the core of the black cloud, down near where he supposed the horizon would be, glowed an ominous, evil red.  Sparks shot up from the glowing area like embers from a bonfire.

    “Volcano,” he said to himself, his voice cracked and reedy from his months spent parched and alone in Nicolae”s dungeon.  “How did I get dumped in front of an erupting volcano?”

    A battered camper roared up the highway.  Earl raised his arm to try to signal the driver when the camper’s front left tire suddenly exploded.  The vehicle veered drunkenly across the road, then careened across the shoulder and into the drainage ditch that ran alongside.  It flipped end-over-end.  Once.  Twice.  Then it landed on its front bumper and balanced, nose down, for just a moment before flopping back onto its wheels with a deafening screech of protesting metal.

    Everything went silent.

    Earl slowly gathered his legs and arms beneath his body and painfully began to try to lever himself up from the ground, determined to find out if anyone had survived the crash, determined to find out where he was.  After an eternity of effort he was up on swaying, jellied legs.  He looked around for something, anything, to steady himself, but saw nothing, not even a twig.  He took a careful step, then another, then another, resolutely shuffling towards the camper.

    Then he stopped.  There was movement in the camper.  A thin, dark-haired, stranger crawled out of the passenger door, then turned and helped a child out onto the field.  He looked familiar, somehow.

    The man from the camper looked across the the field at Earl.  “Hey, buddy, what are you doing here?” he yelled out.  “You’ve got to get out of here!”

    “Wh-?” Earl started to ask a question, whether it was, “Who are you,” “Where is this,” or, “Where should I go,” wasn’t even apparent to him.  It didn’t matter.  His voice gave out with that single, partial syllable.

    The man finished dragging the child out of the camper, then helped another one out.  Earl could now see there was a small boy and a small girl.  He grabbed their hands and the trio started running towards the houses.

    “You’ve got to get out of here, buddy,” the man yelled again.  “The world is ending right now!”

    “Wh-” Earl started to speak again.  Then he realized where he’d seen the strangely familiar man before.  It was John Cusack.

    Cusack and the children had now run past him.  He yelled back at Earl, “Get out of here, buddy, the world is ending.  The Mayans were right about 2012!”

    “Oh, shit,” Earl croaked out.  “I can’t take this.”

    He let his knees give out underneath him and collapsed to the ground.  There was no reason to fight anymore.  But at least someone above had smiled down upon him.  If he was going to get stuck in the middle of an apocalypse a nice field was a better place to be than a dank basement any day of the week.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    As we’ve already discussed, repeatedly, there was plenty he could have done to warn people. He chose not to.

    In fairness to Rayford, the other options may simply never have occurred to him.  Hindsight is 20/20 after all, and we the readers have the luxury of thinking about the situation without the stress an immediate concerns that Rayford has at that moment.  Certain kinds of excitement limits how many steps a person can think ahead, limits their decision making and concerns in the heat of the moment.  Rayford might not have been intending to be a colossal jackass, he was just a human grasping at the few straws he could think of in an overwhelming situation.  

    This section here, thinking about it retrospect, could have Rayford reflect on what he might have done, what he could have done, but did not because it did not occur to him.  Have him realize that there were much better choices that he could have made, more people that he could have saved, and felt shame that he did not do more.  You know, the kind of thing that clues the reader in that he is not an evil man, just a fallible man doing his best in a horrific situation, showing his regrets and intentions and letting us the audience sympathize with him, understanding what he did even if we wanted him to do more.  

    Unfortunately, this would require much better writers.  

  • http://kingdomofsharks.wordpress.com/ D Johnston

    Any specific examples of “possible historical parallels”? Because the problem with people arguing for “exceptions” to Godwin is that they’re usually doing so out of personal political beliefs rather than legitimate historical information. It’s splitting semantic hairs and misses the point – we don’t make Nazi comparisons because it minimizes a true historical horror.

    Put simply, Adolf Hitler is not a rhetorical weapon for use in Internet debates. Don’t forget that; it’s important.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    While the stories carried the horrifying pictures of war, bloodshed, injury, and death, each also spoke glowingly of the swift and decisive action of the potentate in responding to the crisis and crushing the rebellion.

    Wow! What a brave, subversive act, to show horrible pictures of bloodshed, injury, and even death to undercut the propagandist messages about “responding to crisis”. That’s one rebellious news director, so openly defying the Antichrist while pretending to work for him. 

    What? What’s that? Oh, Buck’s reading some dead guy’s notes while trying to call someone, and none of it is work related? Hmm… must be Verna Zee hard at work.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon
    “One has an Uzi automatic weapon and the other a bayonet-type knife that appears to have come from an Israeli-issue military rifle.”

    Left Behind, p 330

    It doesn’t explicitly state that he is Jewish.  And I believe you are correct that there is an incident in which a Muslim is incinerated.

    They are also in Israel.  If their weapons were acquired locally, odds are it would be from Israeli military stockpiles.  I am sure that the Israeli military keeps those under strict nominal control, but it would not be too hard in the confusion to find ways of circumventing it.  Weapons get lost, people can be bribed, etc.  That would probably be the easier option than to get weapons smuggled in from elsewhere.  Considering the historical instability in the region, Israel probably keeps the kind of weapons people can bring into the country under close supervision, for obvious reasons.

  • GeniusLemur

    I bet Jenkins patted himself on the back for all the extra work he did there. I mean, not every Tom, Dick, and Harry knows that the “automatic weapon” you’d find in Israel is an Uzi. That takes research

  • ReverendRef

    There’s also the problem that anyone who comes forward during their
    altar call tends to get burned to cinders by giant flames shooting out
    of their mouths.

    I wonder if this is why I can’t find anyone to swing the thurible at church?

  • Splitting Image

    That Cracked list is really strange. For a list of the “worst famous relatives” you could possibly have, they came up with Josef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and … Scott Peterson? Did O.J. Simpson not have any relatives who could put him on the list?

    Not to trivialize a murder case, but in the Banquet Hall of Ultimate Evil in the darkest circle of Hell, Osama is eating at the little kiddies’ table, and Josef and Adolf are laughing at him. Scott Peterson is an odd choice to make up a foursome with those guys.

  • flat

    Yeah you are right.

    But I only took the part about stalin, personally I hope to never have a such a high margin of error aboaut all the people I might have killed.

  • everstar

     How does one determine the difference between a personal political belief versus legitimate historical information?  Because I thought the parallels between the misinformation in the run-up to the Iraq War and the policy of telling people they were under attack to increase patriotism were quite interesting, but I can certainly see why you could knock this down as me just projecting my own political bias.  However, I still think it’s a point worth asking of our policies: are we actually in danger, or are we being led to think we’re in danger?

    I have no wish to minimize any of the atrocities perpetrated by the Third Reich.  Nonetheless, I think declaring it off limits for comparison now and forever is foolish.  I concur bringing up Hitler is like swatting a fly with a tactical nuke in nearly every case.  But I also think exploring ideas is sometimes more important than being tactful.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    For what people with moral sense and good writing skills do with a character who is in a position like Rayford’s, see Deep Space 9′s “Duet”. 

    When is Rayford going to break down crying about the screams he could do nothing to stop? Not ever, I’m guessing.

  • http://thatbeerguy.blogspot.com Chris Doggett

    Logic told Rayford he should not feel responsible. … Rayford didn’t even know yet how Earl had been killed. 

    At first, I was all set to mock this, but after further consideration, Rayford’s logic is correct. Ray shouldn’t feel responsible for Earl’s death. He should feel bad about some other things, but not Earl’s death.

    Earl knew that Nicolae Carpathia was a bad, bad person. Otherwise, why rig the intercom for cockpit spying? Rayford know this, because Earl told Rayford about the bugging.

    Earl knew that Rayford is an evangelical Christian, born-again post-Rapture, because of the workplace complaint filed against him. Rayford knows this too, obviously. 

    Earl told Rayford about the bugging, because Earl knew Nicolae was evil, and Rayford was a Christian, and Earl thought Rayford could and would put that eves-dropping knowledge to good use. Rayford has no intention of using what he learns by eves-dropping to help society at large, or really anyone outside of his small primate circle. Rayford shouldn’t feel guilty because Earl died, he should feel guilty that because of Rayford’s continued and determining inaction, Earl died in vain.

  • http://lliira.dreamwidth.org/ Lliira

    This is what happens when people see everything as hierarchical. You get to a certain point (and that point comes very quickly), and as soon as you say worse than, better than, you’re trivializing something or someone. 

  • veejayem

    OK, if we’re going down the Gowin’s Law road … it’s hard for most of us (I hope!) to imagine but some of the men who staffed the concentration camps believed that yes, what they were doing was beyond vile. But it was necessary, and someday the world would understand the terrible sacrifice they had made.

    Nice company you keep, Rayford.

  • Flying Squid with Goggles

     

    So this always bothered me about the Trib Force moles; what is Clearance
    1-A reserved for, and who gets it? I thought maybe Hattie, but she
    turns out to have bupkiss for pull with the Big Bad Nico, and they kind
    of make it clear that Fortunato has the same clearance as Rayford and
    Buck…so is Clearance 1-A on hold for Turbo Jesus?

    Aha! I think I’ve got it. These clearances don’t work the way everyone supposes security clearances work.

    Instead, everyone – Tom, Dick, Harry, Jane, June, and Jennifer – is Clearance 1-A. They all know the whole scoop – they’re in for a horrible time and there is no hope because even if they survive the wrath of the evil tyrant, good will still kill them in the end. So they don’t care anymore and do silly things like continue to man car dealerships in the middle of a nuclear war (there were lots of volunteers to return Buck’s rental car to the nuked O’Hare because it seemed like a good excuse to die of radiation poisoning and escape the suffering.)

    The members of the Tribbies, on the other hand, are Clearance 2-A, they know less than the general populace, probably due to NickyAnalogue’s mind whammy, or possibly TurboJesus, or both working in concert. Due to this lack of knowledge, it is possible for them to fool themselves into thinking they aren’t enabling the Anti-Christ’s genocide, and therefore they keep helping him despite arguing in their own minds that they’re not. That’s why Steele, Cam-Cam, Fortunato and the other idiots ensuring the deaths of millions are all Clearance 2-A…

    OK, so it totally doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, but I thought it was an entertaining notion anyway.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Also, it’s important to notice that all of Nicolae’s evil is God’s will too. In the books’ cosmology, the apocalypse is foretold in the Book of Revelation and explicitly rubber-stamped by the Almighty Himself. If Rayford is absolved of his crimes for that reason, then Nicolae and his other followers should be too. 

    (Why does Ray get a pass but not Leon, or Suhail Akbar, or Guy Blod? Heck, I would think that many of Carpathia’s other henchmen would be better candidates for salvation since they didn’t even know that he was the Antichrist.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Ha ha, only fools and heretics rely on the blasphemous lies found on previous pages. True Christians of discernment know that only what is written here, on the current page, really counts… and only for the present. Once you turn the page, all bets are off.

  • Will Hennessy

    For almost two years, I worked for a casino run by the local Native American tribe (incidentally, the local high school mascot was the ‘Redskins’ until the right group put the right amount of pressure in the right place and the thing rightfully changed). While the casino was thought of by management (and pressed on the employees in training) as being ‘for entertainment purposes only,’ the place was certainly not advertised as such. I worked as a valet, parking cars that smelled to high heaven of, at best, plastic outgassing (“new car smell”–makes me gag), or worse, body odor and fast food rotting under the seats.

    While I was not an active participant in it, I watched a lot of people go in there and destroy their lives (meth use, wife-beating, a guy who paid a hooker with blank checks and was taken for $10K, etc.). The analogy I always used for the situation I was in was that I felt like Saul (or Paul), holding the Pharisees’ coats as they went off to stone Stephen. Eventually I couldn’t stand working an eight-hour shift there, almost wholly on ethical grounds.

    I could have gotten a different job, even with the economy. I could have quit. But I stuck it out, all the while feeling terrible for even passively participating in the destruction of lives.

    Thankfully I was laid off and have not returned to the place since then. But, and this is the point, I did not change MY situation.

    All that to say: Rayford. No one is twisting your nuts to be there. You have a choice. If you do not quit, that makes you a participant.

    We the jury find Steele guilty of collaboration.

    (Note: this is not intended as a tirade against gambling, which taken in moderation and with the right attitude is, I do not think, immoral. I am merely establishing my own thoughts on Rayford’s situation. Obviously.)

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    It’s obvious what makes Rayford different from Nazi collaborators: none of them ever made Hitler look silly by, I dunno, handing him a dribble glass or a piece of gum that turned his lips purple.

  • Will Hennessy

     Leo says that because even the Antichrist’s right-hand man has to cower before Rayford’s ego. Rayford is only allowed to admit someone else might do the job when doing the job he continually asserts “only he can do” personally inconveniences him.

    And Nicky’s supposed to be the bad guy…

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh man, that episode. :O One of my favorites, easily.

  • Dogfacedboy

    Logic told Rayford he should not feel responsible. … Rayford didn’t even know yet how Earl had been killed.

    This is the same Earl that Rayford coaxed into flying Global Community One back to NYC as a decoy during the insurrection in which NYC was targeted for attack, sparing his friend any insight that he might likely be killed?  No, Rayford has no reason to feel guilty about anything.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    L&J partly make out Supreme Commander Leon to be the bad guy because…

    He insists on being called by his title. (O.o)

    And of course Brave Ray-Ray passive-aggressively insists on:

    1. Not calling him “Supreme Commander”, and
    2. In turn, always being called Captain Steele, even if only implied by authorial fiat.

    If ever there were a special hell for such utterly thoughtless douchebags, Rayford would be first in line.

  • http://flickr.com/photos/sedary_raymaker/ Naked Bunny with a Whip

    I just watched that episode last week. I’d forgotten how it ended.  :-

  • everstar

    I think pretending the Third Reich was an aberration and something that couldn’t happen again is far, far more trivializing than talking about it, even clumsily.

  • http://www.aeryllou.tumblr.com/ Aeryl

     Not even that.  The character of the apathetic bystander, who is evil solely because they stood by and did nothing could be a fascinating addition to the story, if the authors weren’t so determined to make Rayford the HERO.  Stephen King could knock this guy out of the park.  Think Harold Lauder, but not as ambitious. 


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