Friday, July 29, 2022

Judas, Benedict Arnold and Donald Trump

      The Circle of the Traitors — Dante's Foot Striking Bocca Degli Abati, by William Blake

     “Trump and his accomplices are the most pathetic traitors ever,” controversial Democratic fundraiser Scott Dworkin tweeted to his million followers in mid-July. “Cowards who need to be arrested immediately.”
     I know you’re not supposed to think about tweets. They’re just random shots in the Twitter free-fire zone, tiny sparks flying off a burning lumberyard.
     But occasionally one ember will lodge under the skin. In this case, the word “pathetic,” which I took not for its current popular meaning, “miserably inadequate; of very low standard,” but for its original sense of “arousing pity.”
     Rinse off the contempt and there is indeed something pitiable about traitors. Merely feeling scorn for them is too simple, too easy, and ignores the essential tragedy of betrayal.
     Start with the original traitor of Western culture, Judas Iscariot. Why did he betray Jesus? The 30 pieces of silver are what’s remembered, but that’s a smoke screen. Small payout for the magnitude of his crime. (One of the several ways Donald Trump is outstanding in the traitor field: Unlike most, he’s playing for large stakes. The average traitor gets but little. Jonathan Pollard sold his country for a $2,500-a-year Israeli salary.)
     Silver aside, Judas’ betrayal was almost preordained. If the Bible is to be trusted, Jesus seems in on the plan. He announces that one of his disciples will betray him. The Gang of 12 immediately demand to know who. Jesus says the person he’ll hand this bread to is the bad guy, and gives a chunk of challah to Judas, saying, “Do quickly what you’re going to do.”
     Which kinda undercuts the obloquy that Judas has been held in for 2,000 years, doesn’t it? As Joan Acocella put it in The New Yorker: “If Jesus informs you that you will betray him, and tells you to hurry up and do it, are you really responsible for your act?”
     I could see an argument where the least responsible party in the current betrayal of America is Trump himself — he arrived on the political scene a long-established grifter and con man, congenital liar and serial fraud. How can he be held responsible for what followed? Can a man without convictions, devoted only to advancing himself, be said to betray anything? There’s almost an innocence to Trump, the great orange man-baby, kicking and crying, pooping and dribbling, demanding his needs be met now.

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  1. (in Andy Rooney's voice)
    Have you ever noticed that if you look at T**** while he speaks, he reminds you that the mouth is also a sphincter. And if you listen, he reminds you he has sh*t coming out of both ends.

  2. I've always thought his mouth looks like a cat anus.

  3. I was attracted to the theory that came out a few years ago that Judas was an indispensable and even heroic figure in the death of Christ, a necessary and inevitable part of God's plan to save humanity. But I don't think the theory fits the tale told by the evangelists. who were writing what had been for a very long time an oral history of what was depicted as a great tragedy, no matter that it was necessary and inevitable. Judas had to be shown not only as a despicable because he betrayed Jesus, but that he did so for money, which of course in the old tradition of having it both ways he threw away. Likewise, Dworkin has to call Trump and his minions "cowards" because that is the worst epithet he could think of. But it doesn't fit the facts. I tend to think I'm as brave as the next guy, but I wouldn't have the guts to stand up before the world and display my ignorance and folly for all to see. Trump does it every day. Nor would I defy good sense and lawful authority to make a political point by rising up and putting my life on the line before armed policemen. No, these people aren't cowards; they're certainly fools, but not cowards.


    1. Trump and his acolytes don't think they are ignorant. In fact they think that their followers are ignorant and are most likely chuckling behind closed doors saying something like, "Can you believe they buy this crap? What a bunch of idiots."
      Now he has most Republicans using this approach.
      He follows Roy Cohn's mantra of keep telling the same lie and eventually people will start believing it.
      I don't even think he's a traitor. He doesn't care about the U.S. He only cares about himself.
      He's no different from any other megalomaniac who walked the earth.

    2. H.L. Mencken wrote this, which may be apropos: A demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots. The demaslave is one who listens to what these idiots have to say and pretends to believe it himself.


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