The trouble with making a deal with the devil is that you can never trust him not to turn on you in the end.
Faust is the star of a classic German legend in which a successful, but dissatisfied man makes a deal with the devil, exchanging his soul in order to get everything he wants on earth. A faustian bargain describes a deal in which an ambitious person trades their integrity to achieve power. This resonating theme keeps recurring in art, music, and literature-and maybe in real life. Al Pacino, in the movie The Devil’s Advocate, delivers such a powerful speech as the devil, that ever since I watched it I have to remind myself when I see him that, no, he’s not really the devil, just a very gifted actor.
Racism is Devilish
Human beings cherish devilish ideas at times and one of the most potent and persistent is racism. According to anthropologist Donald Brown in his book Human Universals, preference for our own kinship group, or tribe, is completely natural. It serves a good purpose, in that it motivates us to care for each other in manageable groups. We can’t care for all of mankind the way we care for those in our tribe. In fact, some who claim to care for all mankind fail to care for their own children, thus they avoid caring for anyone at all on a nitty-gritty level.
Prejudice is Common
Prejudice is also natural, defined as a tendency to judge quickly, to take a few cues and promptly put people or events into little pre-labeled boxes in our brain. We label people “thug” hick” “snob” and such things based on a glance. We are often wrong, so why do we do this? I call it part of the Principle of Cognitive Conservation, the tendency to avoid thinking too much. It can also be called stupidity. But it’s ubiquitous, saves us lots of energy, and can be corrected when we become aware of it.
Core Racist Beliefs
Racism is more sinister. It is a complete, organized belief system that maintains that the race to which you belong is superior (racists never think any other race is superior.) The superior race does not have to operate by normal laws of human decency toward members of lesser races. Lesser races are meant to either be eliminated or to serve the superior race. They can be abused in any manner the superior race deems fit-in their superior opinion.
Racism, Religion, and the Pit
Racism is a devilish idea, yet some religious racists justify racism from their scriptures, which generally take a dim view of the devil. Then again, anyone can justify anything from any collection of books. Racism is also a powerful idea, drawing strength from the natural and universal human preference for kinship groups and revving it up until it plummets right over the cliff of morality and into the pit.
Right Wing and Racism
Right wing groups, which rely heavily on fear and a consequent need for order, like to employ racism as a propellant to power. The Jew, the Mexican, the immigrant, the “other” is to blame for our difficulties. We can’t be to blame, we are superior-it’s the “other” we need to kill, export, or incarcerate and the right wing politician promises to take care of this for us. They will keep us safe; return us to the purity we once enjoyed. Obviously, we detect echoes of Hitler, but do we detect this in our current political discourse?
The Republican Party which once ran such honorable men as Dwight Eisenhower, has been playing footsie with the devil. The “other” is those lazy welfare queens Ronald Reagan mentioned, those brown people coming across our borders, those other brown people wearing funny scarves on their heads, well, really, brown people in general. Perhaps worse than the brown people are the white pointy-headed liberals who are traitors to their race and to the mythical pure beginnings of the Republic.
In two recent debates for Republican presidential candidates, the big applause-getters came when Rick Perry’s Texas was noted as having executed 234 more people than any other state. Applause. Kill them, kill them all. The next big applause-getter was when Ron Paul was asked a hypothetical question about a 30 year-old uninsured man who gets sick. Should he be allowed to die? Cheers from the audience-hell, yeah, let him die!
Now that they’ve let the demon out into the general population, has it taken control? Can a Republican get elected who isn’t in favor of death to ‘others?’ A Republican who tries to take a moderate position on war, or brown people, or sick people? Can you make a deal with the devil and expect him to dance to your tune? Or will he turn and consume you?