VENAL HYPOCRISY TAKES CENTER STAGE
Videos, tweets, photos and the like going viral are all the rage. However, there seems to be a mindless quality to the whole “going viral” concept, often featuring distinct human and/or animal behavior that cannot be replicated anywhere but in front of a cellphone at one moment in time. I think we can do better, and there is a lot of material out there to guide the way. I propose a whole new genre, that of “going bacterial.”
“Going bacterial” will refer to inexplicable conduct that is inexplicably repeated and engenders a response of revulsion from a significant number of seemingly sane people. As a simple illustration I thought about taking a video of my cat hopping up on the dining room table just after leaving the litter box. Cats are supposed to be clean animals, but this is just filthy and inexplicable behavior. In spite of this, some people seem to love cats. Luckily, for those who don’t, there are solutions – get rid of the cat, don’t eat on the dining room table ever again, or scrub the table with a really good anti-bacterial soap each time this happens.
This brings us to Roy Moore, the “family” values, evangelical Christian, gun-toting, Republican Party candidate for the US Senate in Alabama. Roy has been outed by a former fourteen-year- old girl and others for what is called pedophilia in the scientific community. It was also called pedophilia by the family values crowd until last week when their boy Roy was outed. Roy, it seems, had a major fondness for teenage girls when he was a public prosecutor in his thirties, almost forty years ago.**
Even for those of you who are knee deep in the muck of right-wing Republican hypocrisy, Roy is sinking to previously untested depths nearly every day. He has gone bacterial, and no amount of anti-bacterial messaging will keep folks like Roy from going bacterial again. You either stop making excuses for the inexcusable or you get covered with bacterial backwash.
I have to say that when “going bacterial” and massive Republican-style hypocrisy intersect, it can be quite amusing even for folks like me who have had a hypocritical moment or two in their lives. Unfortunately for those whom Roy has abused, this going bacterial moment is not so amusing.
It is important to note that going bacterial can infect a whole gaggle of similarly-situated individuals at the same time. As soon as Roy went bacterial, every Republican, including Trump, who couldn’t quite find a path to outright condemnation of Roy and his pedophilia, had a “going bacterial” moment of their own. And if it is possible to have a double down “going bacterial” moment, the Alabama State Auditor took this time to remind all of us that Jesus was born of the union of an adult, Joseph, and a virginal child, Mary. As you might expect, this only increased evangelical Christian fervor for Roy.***
I have gone through this painful litany to remind one and all that it shouldn’t have taken a moment like this to openly gag on right-wing Republican hypocrisy. Republicans had been going bacterial well before they nominated Trump, and now even more so with Trump in office.
While many will applaud Senator John McCain’s thumbs down moment that temporarily derailed the Republican healthcare bill that would have cut untold millions from access to meaningful healthcare, let’s remember that forty-nine Republicans and right-wing evangelical Christian Vice President Pence were all in. Each, with fully insured access to healthcare for themselves and their families, were at the ready to deny that same access to millions in the name of Christian charity and right-wing orthodoxy.
Now we get to do it all again with tax cuts for the wealthy. Those same pious Christian folks who voted to eliminate access to meaningful healthcare for millions of Americans are now working on making sure that income inequality and corporate greed are even further enshrined in America’s capitalist-centric tax code. Watch them smile and celebrate as they blatantly screw those they haven’t been able to screw yet on healthcare.
These smiling bastards continue to rely on the fact that only a few of us are paying attention, can do the math, and care enough about the vulnerable in our society to sound the alarm. It can only be hoped that the depth of their hypocrisy, oozing from every pore, will leave a stain big enough to be seen by at least some of those who have been so easily fooled before.
Lest you think that going bacterial is the sole province of Republicans, Democrats can do it too. Surely a few Democratic politicians and their supporters in the entertainment industry have tried to compete, joined by compatriots with what is at best a very loose ethical foundation. And while rampant hypocrisy is a really nice touch when going bacterial, it isn’t essential. Remember the Nancy and Chuck team hooking up with Trump to save the “dreamers”? And don’t forget the Democrats ready to work with the NRA to outlaw bump stocks. Inexplicable conduct, inexplicably repeated, that makes you want to retch.
I truly wish that I could tell you that “going bacterial” will so clearly define abhorrent behavior that there is some bright light at the end of the behavioral tunnel. But with Trump at the helm, and the right-wing, immoral majority in the US Congress so willing to do so much harm while pretending otherwise, American progressives have only just begun to gag.
Unfortunately, there continues to be a profound need to resist those going bacterial and their immoral agenda. It is not too much to say that America, other nations, and individuals too weak to resist are depending on those of us who can resist. We have been at this now for a little over a year with some limited success and some notable failures. It is critical to remember that Trump and the right-wingers are eviscerating the constructive role of government, retreating from environmental and conservation commitments, and imposing a draconian immigration regime, to name but a few agenda items that should engender outrage.
Outrage can fuel resistance, and hopefully many more will join the cause. But resistance is only a starting point. We must vigorously begin the long road to an informed citizenry that will be critical to progressive capacity to persuade.
*** https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/11/09/alabama-state-official-defends-roy-moore-citing-joseph-and-mary-they-became-parents-of-jesus/?utm_term=.4c9684324bb6 , http://www.newsweek.com/roy-more-sexual-assault-alabama-evangelicals-709015