There was a riveting poem written on this subject years ago, by the noted American poet Sylvia Plath. Towards the end she compared the mirror to a pool, and obviously I have never forgotten the second stanza of "Mirror:"
"Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.
Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.
I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.
She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.
I am important to her. She comes and goes.
Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.
In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman
Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish."
The terrible fish of old age never reached the surface of Plath's life; unfortunately she died by suicide in 1963. She has been at the back of my mind lately, as I have begun to take more seriously the claim that Republicans are making, namely that they are re-assessing the party's message and standing since their recent suicide.
I thought about an old truism that I heard, I think, back when I was in high school. It says that there are three of every person. First there is the person that you think you are. Second there is the person that others think you are. Finally there is the person that you really are.
Does that make you stop and think? I have been thinking it over since the Sixties, when I actually was in high school. I consider it a gem of wisdom that was dropped in my path by the grace of God, probably by one of my teachers but I don't remember that.
Republicans are looking at themselves in the mirror right now, and they are coming to a devastating realization: what they see in the mirror is not what I, or in fact the general population of America, sees.
Speaking for myself, I see a party obsessed with vicious racism, beyond the point of treason, throwing the American people under that racist bus for the sake of demonstrating that they will do nothing for a black man who has the nerve to call himself President of the United States. They will not stop short of ruining the lives of thousands of families; they will not stop short of endangering America's national security. They don't care if you even get your mail or not.
I see a party that is wholly given over to financing corporations out of our Treasury, shilling night and day for the status quo, in which corporations receive both the benefits of record-shattering profits and tax rebates and refunds. Billions in profits and billions in refunds are flowing into their coffers just about now, while you and I are struggling to figure out how to avoid being bankrupted by our taxes. I found out that my tax rate went up last year! What was that again about lowering taxes?
I see a party that has openly admitted that they have nothing to offer in the forum of ideas, and who have announced that henceforth they will depend on voter suppression to hold office.
I see a party that not only neglects their obligation to govern, but they actually hold in contempt the very people who vote for them--the "takers" who live in states that get much more than they give. Arizona, for example, contributes to the national revenue and then receives more state aid than they sent in.
I see a party that dares not get out of bed with reprehensible preachers like Charles Worley, who advocates rounding up and disposing of LGBT citizens. They can't look away from Sean Harris, who urges them to break their children's wrists if they seem "limp." They sit politely while Curtis Knapp urges civil laws be enacted to take the lives of gay citizens. And those are just the guys whose congregations are not bright enough to resist posting on YouTube. Remember, the Internet is forever; think before you press the "submit"button. Bryan Fischer sees a Christian when he looks in the mirror; what I see is a desperately-closeted, self-hating gay man.
That brings me to another subject. I once had a copy of a Sixties version of the Episcopal Stations of the Cross, a discipline that is used to retrace the incidents recorded in the final ordeal of Jesus as he was put to death. This particular version was illustrated with photographs of social-justice issues to impress upon the participants that social justice outrages are by no means confined to Late Antiquity.
One photograph showed a picture of a young black man, shirtless, being handled roughly by police officers. Another showed a Latino man bent over shoots of asparagus in a field, harvesting (by the way, did you know that because of Republican intransigence about immigration issues, the entire blackberry crop of Georgia was lost in 2011?).
The illustration featuring the black man was a take on "Jesus was stripped." The Latino man illustrated how Jesus fell for the first or second time. Each time, the refrain of the congregation was the same:
"Forgive us for crucifying you again in their flesh, for we knew not what we did."
The point I would like to make is that it is not true that we "know not what we do," at least insofar as the Republican Party is concerned. Talking heads obsess over their stupidity, wondering why they take absurd or cruel positions, as though they did not know that referring to "legitimate rape" is offensive. Why don't the Republicans wise up about social issues, they ask repeatedly. They can't be that stupid.
Of course they are not. The Republican tactics are what they always were: tactics to get votes. Until recently the upper echelon of conservative politics was under the disastrously-mistaken impression that the American voting populace was made up of homophobic, bloodthirsty old white men. The sudden appearance of any other voting demographic has first been denied, then resisted, then attacked through voter suppression, and finally faced. The fact that Republicans are not prepared to make any real overtures to these groups does not mean that they don't know that they are there; it simply means that Republicans still despise anyone other than their stereotype selves.
Forgive us for crucifying you again in their flesh.
A pro-choice woman, no matter what her color, has no place in the Republican Party in its lingering Twentieth-Century incarnation. Only the most servile, self-denigrating women can find favor in the ultra-conservative right wing, and then only if their tongues are sharp enough to make racist and homophobic jabs at the President and other Democrats. Women who hold Republican office are required to grovel in the presence of their powerful male counterparts; there is no leeway.
A few years ago it was excruciating to watch conservative Ann Coulter obsess over John Edwards as he ran for president. She was obsessed with him and his sexuality, making suggestive comments about his masculinity in the hope that he would respond by removing all doubt. The fact that his wife was not a media beauty (but merely a wonderful human being) was incomprehensible to the skinny blonde, who could hardly contain herself on the subject of John Edwards until he left the election in disgrace. We have yet to learn just what kind of man actually finds Coulter attractive.
This is not a mistake. The elderly men who run Congress, and their few naive young followers, are hell-bent on maintaining their status as millionaires. They are bought and paid for by lobbyists, and as soon as they are out of office they head to lobbying firms for their next employment, selling their "access" for all it's worth. The unholy alliance between the preachers who once served as Klansmen, the Republican corporate autocracy and ignorant "takers" is falling apart, though, as thousands of Americans from coast to coast feel the effects of the House of Representatives' Republican war on President Barack Obama and begin to ask themselves what they are doing with "Republican" stamped on their voter registration card.