Most people are too young to really remember the bestseller of the 1950s, The Ugly American. Wikipedia defines the term Ugly American as "an epithet used to refer to perceptions of loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless and ethnocentric behavior of Americans," especially when they are abroad. I am adding the prefix Un- to it to describe the loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless and ethnocentric behavior of the carpetbaggers -- I mean the tea-baggers -- and Republican flacks who are now traveling around the country on buses stirring up dreck nationwide. Seeing the photo above on the Huffington Post this morning made me feel like I had been kicked in the stomach. I cannot imagine what kind of lapse, not only of good taste but of sanity, would allow a person to think that sign would be even remotely OK, or for that matter, what kind of mind could conceive such an idea. I am often appalled these days, but this is so over the top, appalled doesn't even come close. (Oh, and by the way? This was by no means the worst of their signs.)
While I have never been a Kennedy fan, to so dishonor a man who spent his entire life in compassionate service to this country, and who was responsible for legislation that will continue to benefit its citizens for many generations to come, is beyond crass. The mind which could create this sign is in serious spiritual trouble. The person who displays it is lucky his face is not in the picture. Perhaps he is shameless, as he must be to do this, but if he is not ashamed now, he surely will be if he gives it any serious thought later. Or have we all become political sociopaths?
Beyond the 4-year-old's temper tantrum nature of all these acts, there is a terrifying breakdown of civil discourse. Congressman Joe Wilson's outburst, calling the president a liar as he addressed congress, is living proof of it and more so because he does not seem to understand there was anything wrong with his action. I don't think many of them are fully aware of the damage they are causing. I am beginning to get a feel for what it must have been like to live in the U.S. during the Civil War. Of course, some of these folks are still fighting that war and will never let it go. I am reminded of that every time we drive to our synagogue along I-65 and pass the hideously ugly statue of Nathan Bedford Forest, flood-lit and surrounded by confederate flags. Forest was a confederate general and founder of the KKK. It stands approximately across the road from the sign that commemorates the Battle of Nashville (my Lovier ancestors fought there on the Union side). The man who maintains that ugly statue is still fighting that war. And so are the tea-baggers.
If it weren't for the seriously destructive nature of what they are doing -- the unraveling of the civil fabric of our nation -- I would just turn a jaded eye to it and ignore them entirely. They don't deserve any more attention than any manipulative child's tantrum would -- don't reward it by giving credence to it and it won't be repeated. But these folks are like those hard core tots on Supernanny who must be dragged to"the naughty seat " repeatedly over several hours before they get the message. They are so totally oblivious to the effects of their prolonged tantrum on the political health of our country, they just keep on going, drunk with the endorphin rush of unfettered political catharsis.
Someone needs to tell them, as the president of the Sons of Confederate Veterans told the guy who put up that statue out on I-65, "The Woh-ah is oh-vah!"
And by the way, so is the election.
photo credit: Huffington Post