November 26, 2012

The Scorpion and the Frog

There is an old fable, often attributed to Aesop, that goes like this:

Once upon a time there was a scorpion that needed to cross a river. Naturally, a scorpion cannot swim so he endeavored to find someone to take him across the river. He found a frog resting on a lily pad, approached him and asked, "Sir Frog, would you be so kind as to carry me across this river so that I might explore the other side?"

Now the frog was no fool. He knew the scorpion was the most untrustworthy of God's creations, and among the most deadly. "If I try to carry you across the river you will sting me and I will die."

"Not true, Sir Frog. For if I do, then I too shall drown."

The frog considered the scorpion's words carefully and could discern no deceit. For indeed it was true that should the scorpion attack him anywhere during his swim across the river they would both die. Trusting that the scorpion's own sense of self-preservation would protect him, he dove into the water, swam over to the bank, and invited the scorpion to climb up onto his back.

True to his word, the scorpion held off until the very mid-point of the river. Then, the frog felt the sharp jab of the scorpion's tail and almost immediately an unrelenting paralysis began to creep through his body. He could not work his legs, could not keep his lungs inflated, and felt his heart begin to fail.

With his last breath the frog cried out, "What have you done? You have killed us both!"

As they sank beneath the river the scorpion just had time to say, "I could not help myself. It is my nature."

I recently flew from Tokyo back to Ohio. I had two layovers along the way, one in Los Angeles for five and half hours as well as one in Atlanta for four and a half hours. As I traveled, I listened carefully to the conversations around me, took note of the magazines people were buying, and watched the kind of books they were reading. Despite ample inventory of conservative books in the airport bookstores, I did not see a single person browsing through them or buying them. "Woman's Day" and "Sports Illustrated" were being widely read, naturally, as well as multiple magazines with headlines praising the recent re-election victory of Barack Obama and promising a golden, glorious future under his inspired leadership. The articles I glanced through as well as the conversations I overheard were overwhelmingly messianic in their tone and content. A blind faith in the divine wisdom of Barack Obama's leadership was everywhere to be found. It was quite unnerving and made me grateful for my Kindle's ability to completely disguise the conservative title I was reading.

You see, it is not just the unrealistic and self-destructive nature of Barack Obama's political philosophy that disturbs me. Even more frightening is the worshipful attitude of every single supporter I encounter, the messianic tone of American media when they speak of him, and the blind faith so many have in his ability to bring them into paradise. Personality cults, it seems, are no longer the lone preserve of dysfunctional minor nations like North Korea and Iran. The United States of America has fallen under a messianic dream so powerful it would make Nehemiah Scudder green with jealousy.

So this morning when a video of Jamie Foxx at the Soul Train Awards calling Barack Obama "our lord and savior" began circulating through conservative networks it did not surprise me in the least. Honestly speaking, I have been expecting this kind of adulation for quite some time. It has become obvious to me that this is the direction the media was moving in. The mysterious, shadowy past of Barack Hussein Obama, a.k.a. "Barry Soetoro", has now shifted from a political convenience into fertile ground for the writing of myths and legends describing his rise to greatness. The great fear that Christian, conservative American voters would elect a demagogue who would bring a theocracy can now be discarded as the paranoid propaganda it always was. Lo and behold, it is those who feared theocracy the most that have now delivered us into one.