Last year I was encouraged that that same sample had woken up a bit.
This year, we have indictments, we have a new congressional majority, we have a guilty verdict or two. I just attended that same Seder where I have been surreptitiously polling the previous two years. This time the list of plagues got general comment as looking rather like the headlines of the New York Times.
The origins of that progressive's list of plagues predates Bush. The authors have not received their due. It took a bit of googling to find the originators of the widely copied list. I found this copy in Australia:
Many Haggadot contain modern day plagues, such as AIDS, breast cancer, child poverty, domestic violence, environmental destruction, homelessness, homophobia, hunger, illiteracy, and racism. Consider the following reading from A Common Road to Freedom, A Passover Haggadah for a Seder conducted with both Jews and African Americans:
Each drop of wine is our hope and prayer that people will cast out the plagues that today threaten everyone, everywhere they are found, beginning in our own hearts:
- The making of war
- The teaching of hate and violence
- Despoliation of the earth
- Perversion of justice and government
- Fomenting of vice and crime
- Neglect of human needs
- Oppression of nations and peoples
- Corruption of culture
- Subjugation of science, learning, and human discourse
- The erosion of freedoms
And the citation in that haggadah led me to Amazon where it seems the most obscure text in the world:
A Common Road to Freedom: A Passover Haggadah (Hardcover)
by Leonard Fein (Editor), David Saperstein (Editor), Leonard Fein et al. (Author)
Availability: Currently unavailable. We don't know when or if this title will be in stock again.
# Publisher: Religious Action Ctr of Ref Judaism; 2nd edition (1996)
# Amazon.com Sales Rank: #4,020,420 in Books
And Mrs. Greensmile's excellent memory recalls that very list in the so called "Baskin Haggadah" of 1974. Baskin was the illustrator. Where editor Herbert Bronstein found that list of plagues I do not yet know. It was a borrowing 22 years old in 1996.
So it is clear, the list was not made up as a reaction to Bush, but as a more general sort of admonition that liberals have...because these are the horrors they understand to be possible if the best of religious and universal social norms and values are treated to empty lip service. In fact, the Bush administration has egregious faults and blood on their hands in every category of plague. Match them up with news stories you have read and continue to see daily:
- Bush and Cheney lied us into an awful war in Iraq
- Starting with "axis of evil", we have been told to be afraid. "They hate us for our freedom" is what you say when you wish people to then think: "so we must hate them back".
- The administration sought to quash efforts to stem global warming, choosing instead to push for oil drilling in unspoiled forests
- DOJ has been operated as a political revenge unit.
- Inner city murder rates, on the decline for years, are trending up again. White collar crime is now institutional, on a vast scale with Halliburton and defense contractors and lobbyists so sloppily buying and congressmen so sloppily selling influence that some representatives are already behind bars.
- Katrina, for but one instance
- Iraq looks more oppressed than liberated. Iran has been told it is next.
- One of the greatest disseminators of culture for the average American, far from major cities, too poor for concert tickets has been PBS and NPR...and Bush has tried several times to decapitate its leadership and make its content more to his neocon liking
- From NASA to the Forest Service, scientists have been muzzled by conservative ideologues with no expertise beyond Bushlove and Bible knowledge. When the whole congress accepted the need for stem cell research, Bush vetoed it.
- FISA is shredded, the FBI and NSA have carte blanche to intercept any communication foreign or domestic that strikes their fancy. No less a person than the Attorney General thinks Habeus Corpus is a dispensable nicety.