HIST 376: Ancient American Political and Social History
State University of New York – Mars Campus
Professor X60062 Johnson
Case Brief: “Hypocrisy” and the American Political Context
June 7, 2205
Scholars examining America circa 2000 occasionally look back with some curiosity at the antiquated concept of “hypocrisy,” which dictionaries of the day defined thusly:
Inflected Form(s): plural -sies
Etymology: Middle English ypocrisie, from Old French, from Late Latin hypocrisis, from Greek hypokrisis act of playing a part on the stage, hypocrisy, from hypokrinesthai to answer, act on the stage, from hypo- + krinein to decide
-a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion
Intellectuals in the last century or so have published a variety of lively theses and theories on the subject of what role the concept of hypocrisy played in turn-of-the-millennium culture and how precisely it died off.
In order to understand this novel ideological construct, which neolithic prehuman cultures apparently took quite seriously, we begin by looking at activities undertaken on behalf of the ruling dynasty of the era. For instance:
Judge upholds Washington gubernatorial result
WENATCHEE, Wash. Jun 6, 2005 — A judge Monday upheld Democrat Christine Gregoire’s victory in the closest race for governor in U.S. history, rejecting Republican claims that last fall’s election was stolen through errors and fraud.
The election decided by an amazingly close 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast included 1,678 illegally cast ballots, Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges found. But he said Republicans failed to prove that GOP candidate Dino Rossi would have won if those votes had been disregarded.
“Unless an election is clearly invalid, when the people have spoken their verdict should not be disturbed by the courts,” Bridges said. Nullifying the election, he said, would be “the ultimate act of judicial egotism and judicial activism.”
The Republicans were hoping the judge would nullify the election and then either declare Rossi the winner outright or open the way for a new election in the fall.
The Gregoire Case is illustrative for two reasons. First, the party demanding judicial intervention was at the same moment engaged in a political and rhetorical assault on “judicial activism” elsewhere in the empire. Second, the party had itself been accused of electoral fraud resulting in a Federal election being “stolen.” In that case, however, there had been no calls for judicial intervention, or for that matter, even a non-partisan investigation into the allegations. While such activities make perfect sense to the 23rd Century post-ethical mind, they struck some at the time as being “contradictory,” and even corrupt.
The political “opposition,” such as it was, pointed to the Bush dynasty’s behavior in the famous case of the martyr Terri Schiavo. It was noted that the ruling party eventually engineered an unprecedented series of maneuvers designed to skirt the outmoded and obstructionist judiciary, and when their efforts proved unsuccessful in saving the life of Schiavo, reacted by threatening not only the nation’s judicial process, but the health and safety of the judges themselves. In the view of the opposition, there was something ethically and morally wrong about demanding judicial activism and complaining about it at the same time.
This is what was meant by the term “hypocrisy,” more or less – to say one thing while doing the opposite. Clearly the primitive liberal mind lacked the capacity to accommodate multi-positional rhetorical complexities, and while we can laugh about it today, you have to understand that at one time a majority of the population was so compromised by these sorts of intellectual limitations that they voted against President Bush II.
For a sense of the emotional fervor driving the ethical fundamentalists of the period, consider the following passage, taken from a “blog” community.
Americans have long understood not to expect too much in the way or moral or ethical fiber from their elected leaders, regardless of party affiliation. But something has changed lately. The GOP has adopted, as a key tenet of its modus operandi, a complete refusal to acknowledge that such a thing as hypocrisy exists. They screech for investigations and judicial intervention in Washington, while their statements on Ohio are pretty much the same documents with the word “not” penciled in here and there. They talk about the importance of education and “leaving no child behind” even as they mow through ed budgets like a chainsaw-wielding B-movie slasher through a crop of freshly graduated virgins. They change their policy positions according to the whim of the polls and in the same breath attack their opponents as “flip-floppers.” It goes on and on and on, past where the eye can see and well into the dark country where even imagination fears to tread.
Once upon a time a crooked politician, doing something he knew to be unsavory (or at least, something his voters would see as unsavory – same thing, really) would have the decency to cover his tracks, to lie, to at least pretend. If he was having sexual congress with barnyard animals, he’d do his best to avoid the subject of man/beast love. These days, though, certain of our leaders will look you eye and tell you that the Democrats are banging the cattle and that sex with animals is morally wrong – while sodomizing a pig in front of God and everybody!!!
Next thing you know, you’re voting on laws that would prevent people on the other side of the country from walking their dogs in front of impressionable children.
If it’s any consolation, the author of that little bit of sedition was shortly thereafter rounded up and sent to a re-education facility, and wound up living a fairly productive life developing rubrics for corporate sexual harassment training programs.
In closing, it’s important to understand the sacrifices made by the early 21st Century patriots who helped deliver us from the tyranny of ethical fundamentalists. Ask yourself what kind of society we would have today if our actions were artificially constrained by our rhetoric.