If you haven’t heard it from Donna Brazile, I’m sure you have from Tom Brokaw.
“Jesus Christ was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.”
It’s a line that has a nice bit of punch to it, especially if you buy the idea that Sarah Palin was slamming all community organizers when she said that being a mayor “was like being a community organizer, except that a mayor has responsibilities,” and not just one man who apparently thought that being a community organizer qualified him for the Presidency (and two autobiographies before his fiftieth birthday.)
I hate pithy slogans like that, which pack a lot of punch and little substance. And believe me, this one packs very little substance. But just for fun, let’s analyze it, shall we?
First off, the obvious implications. If you just pointed out that “Jesus Christ was a community organizer,” I’d let it slide as an attempt to demonstrate just how offensive her remark had been. But by following it up with “Pontius Pilate was a governor,” you immediately, and not at all subtly, link it to Palin, the only governor involved here.
And by linking it to Palin through ‘governor,’ you link it to the only person involved here who was a community organizer – Barack Obama.
So, as a counterpoint to saying that she had more responsibilities than Barack Obama, the Democrats are comparing her to Pontius Pilate, one of history’s more reviled figures, and taking the chance to also compare their boy to Jesus Christ, one of history’s more respected figures.
Even I, a Pagan by faith and choice, find this statement offensive. Not only because of the attack on Sarah Palin (who certainly doesn’t live up to Pilate’s career history or path), and not only because of the arrogance of anybody claiming that Obama and Christ are on approximately the same level, but also because of the fact that you’re belittling Christ’s actual résumé.
Now, let’s throw out the issue of miracles, rising from the dead, and/or actually being the physical Son of God. Let’s just look at what Christ actually was.
He was a rabbi – a priest, a teacher, and a healer. He was also a community organizer, granted, but he was much more than that. He created a philosophy (and religion) that has endured for two thousand years in one form or another. He advocated peace in the face of many of his own people clamoring for war. He absolved the people who killed him of guilt, and ministered not only to his own people but to their mortal enemies. He took a tax collector – a person often thought of as an enemy collaborator in his time – as one of his disciples.
As a community organizer and rabbi, he taught a far stronger message of unity and strength than Obama has, one carried out through his actions as well as his words.
Now, all of this is just getting worked up about the statement itself, and not the inanity of the statement itself. Let’s carry the statement – and linking Christ with Obama and Pilate with Palin – through to its logical conclusion, shall we? Just for fun.
Christ was arrested by the High Priest’s men, and taken to his house, where he was questioned. Throughout the (rather brutal) interrogation, he declined to defend himself in the least, according to two of the four gospels. Instead, he made a non-response that was basically a plea of nolo contendre at the time (“that’s what you say” rather than “uhm, no.”) According to a third, he actually confessed to the crime of claiming he was the Son of God – blasphemy under Jewish law of the time.
(For the record, yes, that is arguably a case of the Bible contradicting itself… but that’s a subject for another post.)
After this, he was led to Pilate. There, the High Priest and his men accused him of sedition against the Roman state – a crime punishable by death, which blasphemy wasn’t under Roman law. Pilate asked Christ if that was true… and Christ responded with the same non-answer as before. It worked better with Pilate than it did with Caiaphas and crew – he said he found no fault in him, and pretty well bent over backwards to try and keep him out of trouble. (Luke 23:1 through 23:24)
He offered to release a Rabbi who was accused of speaking out against Rome to the people – something that probably would have raised quite a few eyebrows back in Rome – and instead they told him to release a murderer. And so, as the law required – as his oath as a governor required – as the very people who hated him as the symbol of their oppression required – he had Christ executed. (Luke 23:18 through 23:24 – see what I mean about letting emotion rule over thought being a bad thing?)
Frankly, Pilate did more to defend Christ than Christ did, according to the Gospel of Luke. He only had him executed when threatened with rioting on the part of the people he was supposed to be governing. Which would have resulted in the Legionairres having to go out and start killing folks. Which he really didn’t want.
Now, if we’re going to carry the Palin = Pilate/Obama = Christ equation through to fruition, what would that involve? Hmm….
It would involve Obama being found guilty of some manner of horrible crime by pillars of the black community… Jesse Jackson, perhaps?
It would involve those people trumping up charges of treason against him, and a trial in which he plead guilty, despite the efforts of the Judge and Prosecutor and everybody else in the system trying to convince him not to. The Judge, refusing to accept that plea, holds the trial, and packs the jury with as many supposedly sympathetic voices as possible, but they still convinct him.
At this point, President Palin (because no governor and no vice president has the authority to do this) offers to pardon him, because she and everybody else on the side of the ‘oppressors’ can see that he’s innocent (a little thick maybe, for not defending himself, but innocent.)
With pen in hand, and about to put the last flourish on her signature and allow him to go free, the public outcry from his own community threatens riots that will require the institution of Martial Law. Rather than see that happen, she allows the legally required sentence to be carried out, and Obama to be executed.
A rather ridiculous scenario, don’t you think?
I think rather higher of the black community and their leaders than that… and of Barack Obama.
Still, I think I’ll take the real Jesus Christ over a community organizer.