Keeping Landes’ concept of “semiotic arousal” in mind (in the way Brasher interprets its meaning), reading Amarasingam’s essay about “Baraknophobia” becomes an exercise in seeing America’s history as a series of events unfolding into whatever you want to read into them. Brasher says, “Once the apocalyptic lever is tripped in the human mind, almost any random event can become fodder for the widening maw of end-times significance” (164). So when we have in our minds how the narrative will develop, and there is a group of people in opposition to the current leader, anything that leader says or does is fair game for interpretation and incorporation into that narrative. For instance, Amarasingam discusses three points made on a popular video concerning Barak Obama (110). One of these points is that the Antichrist is prophesied to be a “stern-faced” king, and that Obama obviously fits this prophecy. I agree that Obama could benefit from learning a wider range of facial expressions; however, I fail to see how this becomes a red flag for the end-time. In fact, the other two points Amarasingam outlines stretch the validity of the argument even further into fallacy than does noticing how Obama scowls a lot.
Amarasingham says, “On the Internet we can be different people, experience things we could never hope to experience in real life, help in the creation and perfection of collaborative knowledge and engage in participatory media” (113). Just like Amarasingam did for his article, and David did in preparation for our blog prompt, I too typed “Obama” and “Antichrist” into Google to prepare for tomorrow’s class discussion. The fact that we three did the same exercise illustrates participation in the disseminating power of the Internet, as we simply typed some keywords and were given (in my case) about 1,300,000 results to sift through. Additionally, “the ease with which blogs, forums and Web sites are created has given rise to an alternative media” (114). The speed at which ideas are cultivated on the Internet is astonishing, and any idea is fair game for the Internet, whether or not the “evidence” for these ideas is valid. The first website* on my list when I did my search claims that Obama is not the Antichrist, and that many of the “facts” used to prove that he is are simply not found in Scripture. Amarasingam says, “Disparate threads . . . are seamlessly and effortlessly woven together into an elaborate tapestry of paranoia that is nearly impossible to disprove” (114).
We can see this in the “empire narrative” of identification markers for the Antichrist. Earlier I mentioned a video claiming there is a prophecy of the Antichrist that says he will be a stern-faced king. Obama is not a king—he is a president—but, through the concept of semiotic arousal, the word king simply means to point to a man in power; therefore, Obama still fits into this prophecy. This careful wordplay is seen all over the Internet. Furthermore, Amarasingam points to a video by Alex Jones, who claims that Obama is the “perfect Trojan horse” and that his humanitarian efforts are a cleverly disguised attempt to turn America into a “paramilitary, domestic security force” (109). These threads are picked up and placed wherever readers feel the need to put them. Most often, the right-wing/apocalyptic mentality is quoting Christian and Jewish scripture to point to how Obama is (clearly?) either the Antichrist or an agent of the Antichrist. This is the mode of divine apocalypse, which is the “discourse of religious fundamentalists” (xv).
Quinby also says, “Apocalyptic time presumes a unity by a moment of origin and a moment of end” (xvii). In order for the Christian apocalyptic discourse to work, the identification of the Antichrist is essential. Through Internet blogs and forums, this identification can be discussed. Knowing who the Antichrist is will put the rest of the Christian apocalyptic narrative into line and it will allow the faithful to be assured that Christ—the true Christ—is coming soon.