Reza Aslan, in his book on Islam, is just one of many writers to claim that in cultures that have an oral tradition, with people who don't read, words have a particular kind of magic. Mohammed was challenged to produce miracles like Jesus but said that he was just a messenger. The word had power. And in some cultures an abra cadabra spell is thought to be enough to change reality.
I couldn't help but think of this as I listened to Rudy Giuliani speak. You have to admire the fact that Giuliani has managed to sustain a sense of impending apocalypse for 15 years now. That shows a real commitment. But he got most worked up when he talked about President Obama's reluctance to use the term, "Radical Islam." There seems to be belief that if only someone in power would dare to utter these words, ISIS's power would be shattered. It's like a priest's incantation.
It's worth remembering that the folks who came into the Republican Party through the Tea Party came in through talk radio. Mike Pence was a talk show host. These are a people of an oral tradition and they still seem to believe in the power of the spoken word as something magical.
GOP convention attendees are certainly angry. It will be really fascinating to see whether this message of fear and anger resonates with the American people. This audience loved to be scared but in a down home sort of way. I wasn't sure whether the next speaker was going to be Wes Craven or Larry the Cable Guy.
Finally, it was sad to realize that the American way of life is no longer an option. Listening to each side talk about the other it seems obvious that our only choices are fascism or socialism. That's too bad because what we had seemed pretty good.