In ancient Rome, Cato the Elder (234 bc-149bc) was a predecessor to modern day American Republicans. He woke up every day, scratched his eyes, shook his head and then asked, “What can I be against today?” One of his nicknames was “Cato the Censor.” One of his favorite passions was to destroy Rome’s arch rival, Carthage, and he started announcing daily as he concluded any speech, “Carthage must be destroyed.?” This out-cry was meaningful for a while but, according to historians, it became absurd as it went on so long that it became a joke. However, and this is inconsistent with the point I’m going to make, eventually he did get his wish but not necessarily because of his obsessive focus on the matter.
Cato the Elder, if living today as an American, his slogan probably would be, “Obamacare must be repealed, i.e. ‘destroyed,'” Several days ago, the GOP failed miserably in their quest but the battle cry will continue for a while…at least. For, “repeal Obamacare” is about so much more than repealing Obamacare just as “Carthage must be destroyed” was much more than Carthage being destroyed. Both were/are ideological obsessions which as with the case with all ideologues are always about matters beneath the individual or collective surface.
The Republicans are racists and since Obama was elected President in 2008 this has been so very apparent. On the night of Obama’s inauguration, the GOP leadership convened to agree that they would be devoted from that day forward to oppose everything that Obama attempted to do. A spirit of contempt and scorn for the newly elected President was egregiously apparent in an early 2008 Obama speech to a joint session of Congress when an obscure Congressman, Joe Wilson, felt he had the liberty to cry out to Obama, “You lie! You lie!” Wilson’s outburst was so over the top that he faced criticism from both sides of the aisle but he was speaking from a sense of empowerment he had felt from the anti-Obama attitude that his party was conveying to him. Furthermore, attempts to deny voting rights to blacks have been so egregious that in at least one instance an overly-enthusiastic Republican announced in 2012 that his success in “voter suppression” was going to assure that Mitt Romney carried his state.
The core issue of racism is “us” vs. “them.” The Republicans are currently demonstrating their disdain for the notion in our modern world that boundaries are less rigid than we have been. Racism is the template for many Republicans to perpetuate the paradigm of rigid distinction. Be it “blacks vs. whites” or “gays vs. straights” or “Muslim vs. ‘the rest of us’” it is an obsessive effort to draw boundaries, an effort which is predicated upon a deeply-seated need to draw a distinction between “me” and “thee.” Their view point is that “some of us see things right” but “some of you don’t.” This binary thinking makes conflict inevitable.
This brings to my mind the story of Jesus who, though being Deity opted to not ensconce himself in the smugness of that “knowledge” and stepped into this time/space continnum where boundaries are rigidly drawn, fulfilling a mortal need to draw and maintain the distinction of “me” and “thee,” “us” vs. “them.” Jesus then vividly illustrated the pain of observing and feeling the pain of humankind that is inveterately opposed to understanding that ultimately we are all one.
Listen to what the Apostle Paul said about Him on this matter in the book of Phillipians which conveys what Christian tradition describes as the doctrine of kenosis:
5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.