A parishioner posted a link on Facebook to a clip from “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart. Unfortunately, the clip has been removed from YouTube. The name of the clip is: “Jon Stewart Totally Annihilates the Dem Party on ObamaCare.” In typical surgical fashion, Stewart simultaneously uses fact and humor to cut away the crap and lay bare the chasm that exists between promises made and processes in play. What good is it that millions of people want to sign up for healthcare through the Affordable Healthcare Act if the web site works like an unplugged refrigerator? (My metaphor, not Stewart’s.) The fear that opponents of the AHA want to perpetuate is that the health care won’t work any better than the web site designed to give people access to it is working.
Jon Stewart is relentlessly non-partisan in his critique of things political, whether he is talking about politicians or the promises they make. It’s one of the reasons he is so popular. The ax Stewart grinds is radically inclusive. And when Obama is on Stewart’s chopping block, two things are going on. First, it’s where the president deserves to be. And second, folks with Republican leanings become – if they not already are – fans of Stewart’s show. But before we fault folks who are predetermined (and perhaps predestined?) to see “Red”, let’s acknowledge that “Blue” folks are just as predisposed when it comes to discrimination.
In a collection of essays called Half Life: Jew-Ish Tales from Interfaith Homes, Danielle Pafunda refers to “that testy construction we call reality“. “Testy” is a good way to put it. These essays provide powerful testimony to the fact of just how slippery the so-called “facts” are by which we determine our reality. Growing up in homes made up more of Christian / Jewish than “Red” and “Blue”, these stories come to us from those who live squarely on the boundary between “BC” (“BCE”) and “AD” (“CE”). To survive on such a boundary one comes to realize, as Rebecca Wolf puts it, that “we don’t understand much about Judaism, or Christianity, or the difference between a Methodist and a Baptist, or Israel and its creation as the homeland of the Jewish.” And then she makes this profound confession: “My ignorance really knows no bounds.” It turns out that ignorance is also radically inclusive. It takes a combination of true grit and uncommon humility to admit to this.
Is there any way to see the world from some vantage point other than the one we are predisposed to? Can “Dems” admit that the Red State folk might not be as dumb as Dems think they are? Can the “Repubs” begin to see that the Blue State folk are not as morally degenerate as Repubs tend to think they are? From where I sit, I tend to think Republicans, as a group, are narrow-minded and short-sighted…as if that is a broad-minded way to approach the issue. I have to admit that I am as much a “Republican” as anyone when it comes to the narrow and short of it all.
And things certainly don’t get better when we take it out of politics and put it into religion! After I watch clips of “The Daily Show”, I find myself thinking: Maybe the only person who is not a Republican … is Jon Stewart. Stewart parades the ignorance of all parties right out in public. It’s as hilarious as it is tragic, as indiscriminate in its selection as it is surgical in its methodology . Laughing on the outside, we are lamenting on the inside.
Let’s change this around. Today – and for the rest of the week – Let’s agree that before we critique the other folks, we will stop and laugh at ourselves.
Here is an irreverent Jon Stewart calling President Obama to task – it’s not the clip referenced on Facebook, but it will suffice to make the point if you want to give it a look. Caution: There is some rough language. It’s bleeped out … but like so many of our prejudices, it’s still there.