Sunday, August 02, 2009

John F. Kennedy and the New Anti-Christ

I was 16-going-on-17 during John F. Kennedy's run for the White House in 1960, a member of a Pentecostal church which militantly viewed "the world" as enemy to the good, while all my high school friends were Southern Baptists. The father of one of those friends passed a printed pamphlet to my father, who gave it to me: "The Catholic Menace." I began to read about the dangers our beloved country was in should the Catholic Kennedy lie his way into the presidency. The hairs were standing up on the back of my neck by the time I finished. I was haunted by images of what Catholics did to Protestants (back when they did things to Protestants, whenever that was, as deliciously detailed in Fox’s Book of Martyrs). I knew that I had to do something to keep the Pope from taking over our government.

What I could do as a teenager was talk, a little wild-eyed, to my classmates, who couldn't vote, and to my extended family, many of whom never bothered to vote. That year, despite all the crazy talk by adults who could and did vote for Richard M. Nixon, Texas went for Kennedy and in January 1961 cast its 24 electoral votes for JFK.

That was the same year, 1961, that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu. Obama is now the target of the 21st century equivalent of nasty little printed pamphlets, that is, The Forwarded E-Mail, the most virulent recent one claiming that the president is actually the antichrist. Some of the more determined promoters of these vicious fictions are going on YouTube, like this guy, who, when he gets tired of misrepresenting Christianity as a paranoid's last resort, could have a great career as a twister of balloons into party animals.

The Republican Party is not only hanging out with these people. These people are the base of the Republican Party, they define it. In the absence of any visible party leadership, they're calling the shots, and it's the rare Republican politician willing to stand up and say "You people are plu-perfect cra-zee and have nothing to do with me."

I raise this connection between the paranoia of the super-religious in the 1960s and the paranoia of the super-religious in 2009 as a melancholy memory, since some lunatic managed to kill Kennedy. Some lunatic, fueled by the evil reverends in our midst today, will puff themselves up with the egotism of their own righteousness and attempt to kill Barack Obama. They're certainly capable of murder, and worse. They shot a doctor in the head in his own church in Omaha.

Beware of the righteous on a mission from God. No group should fear them more than the contemporary Republican Party, whose hands will not easily come clean of that blood.

No comments: