October 8, 2008
_We have seen the bowels of hell, and before them stand John McCain and Sarah Palin
Be warned, I’m going to try to compose the most disgusting analogy I can, then draw what I regard as an equivalency with a current event that hopefully will be vivid.
Simply because I am an atheist does not mean that I am either unaware or unappreciative of what is within the covers of the Bible, the Old as well as the New Testament. Through the literature with which I have been acquainted, nothing brings a mist to my eyes comparable to that which is in John 8: 1-11. You will recall that an adultress had been brought into the midst. Mosaic law commanded that the woman be put to death via stoning. The scribes and the Pharisees asked Jesus how he felt about it. As the story goes, Jesus suggested that the one who is without sin ought to cast the first stone. And, of course, as none were, they departed, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. He then asked of the woman, “Where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you?” The woman responded, “No man.”
To me, what follows is the most thoroughly beautiful passage I have ever read. Hearing the words of the woman, Jesus then replies, “Neither do I condemn you.”
The scene, the incredible magnanimity, the agape love, contained within just those five words, “Neither do I condemn you,” and the lesson they seek to convey, are beyond majestic. Now picture someone ripping the page upon which they are printed, for use as toilet tissue. Every cell of my being would scream, “NO!!!! This is an abomination, an obscenity that you just cannot commit.”
All of us have been sad witness to, and sickened by, innumerable obscenities, over the past nearly eight years, by the Bush administration and its Republican acolytes. Every day, it seemed, just when I felt I had seen the worst, had been sickened to my very limits, there would be some new excavation to some new, more unfathomable depth. At least with Nixon, and Reagan, and Clinton . . . I could count and ordinate the retch provoking calumnies. But with George Bush . . .
Then, along came John McCain. He began his quest with a sworn promise to elevate the discourse, to concentrate on the many vexing issues confronting us and the world, to provide the debate with “straight talk” that perhaps wouldn’t always be cheering, but would at least be honest. And immediately, while claiming to pursue those higher objectives, he seized the Bush/Rove/Atwater penchant for the gutter and abject lies and deceit, and dug deeper and deeper to locate that which was more fetid, more putrefied, more retching.
I don’t know how much more my heart and my gut can take.
At the outset, I related above what I hold as a most extraordinary image. Greater than even the love I have for anyone is the love I have for the idealistic image that is my country and the image of what we can be, the image of the ideals we can and must strive to realize. We can be better than what we have been. To shun the tawdry, to shuck off that which demeans us is wholly within our grasp. We can feel fear, and anxiety, and every negative emotion. But we don’t have to succumb to them. We just don’t have to. As much as I need air, I need to believe we are a better people than that.
Nonetheless, over the past weeks I have seen in John McCain and Sarah Palin, and in the faces of their supporters, the very worst the human condition allows. No genuine difference: no genuine difference between their whipped-up hatred and hatred-fed frenzy for blood that must have filled the streets of Jacobin Paris during the Reign of Terror; no difference between their whipped-up hatred and the hatred-filled frenzy that led to lynchings in this country; no genuine difference between their whipped-up hatred and hatred-fed frenzy for blood that led to Krystallnacht and the Holocaust.
Using the worst of the most terrible of lies, Sarah Palin quite intentionally fed it. Employing the worst of the most terrible lies, John McCain quite knowingly indulged it. “Treason,” someone yelled from the crowd. “Kill him (Senator Barack Obama),” cried another.