Somewhere between “Goodnight Moon” and “The Sun Also Rises” readers have to get the hang of irony, words that say one thing but mean another. Somewhere between Sunday School and Seminary, the similar lesson of hypocrisy arises. Jesus had harsh words for that. In politics, it goes without saying, hypocrisy is rife and irony dramatic.
Exhibit A: Ted Cruz has been leading the pack, but many Republican candidates for president and lesser offices take the current incumbent to task for not being able to bring himself to utter the words “Islamic terrorism.”
In fact, there are probably good reasons for choosing one’s words with care when discussing the atrocious behavior of a lunatic minority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims. We may need the good will of the latter to extirpate the former. It is worth considering that Christians, Jews, Buddhists or Hindus might also take it amiss if their farthest out offshoots were regularly treated as if typical of the entire faith. Because of the poison Kool-Aid of the Rev. Jim Jones, let’s ban the entry of anymore Christians into the country.
More to the point, those who demand pain speaking rather than lawyerly or diplomatic niceties had better be free of similar taint. Yet, lo and behold, the Republicans who attack Obama for being mealy-mouthed have shown a strange inability of their own to call Donald Trump’s racial, ethnic and gender slurs bigoted.
Apparently he’s not indulging in hate speech or appealing to racists. No, he’s courting “the base,” trying to win “the evangelical vote,” or speaking the language of the Reagan Democrats or the Tea Party. Well, man up fellows. If you, too, didn’t badly want the votes of your party’s bigots, haters and cranks, you’d be describing Trump talk for what it is.
Exhibit B: Terrorists struck Brussels while Barack Obama was concluding an historic opening to Cuba and appearing with a newly-elected leader of Argentina anxious to mend fences with the United States. The president was immediately faulted for not rushing home, for attending a baseball game and for dancing the tango, the forbidden dance of love.
Yet Republicans know full well that every president is in instantaneous touch with White House, Pentagon, world leaders, you name it, anywhere he travels. It doesn’t take a very long memory to recall George W. Bush, in the middle of a shooting war moseying off the 10th tee of a golf course to discuss the hostilities or performing a tribal dance in Africa.
Even more to the point, those faulting Obama for not being sufficiently presidential were simultaneously running for that high office by insulting each other’s wives, their relative ugliness, the titillating pictures one posed for, and the alleged extramarital affairs of one of the candidates, according to a checkout line tabloid. Is that really more statesmanlike than three innings at a ballgame or a turn around the ballroom floor?
“O, hypocrites. Judge not, that ye be not judged. First cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Or could it be you aren’t really Christians, after all? Could you be Muslims? Or Satan, as the church lady used to say?