What You Do to the Least of These, Part 1 of a Rude Pundit Christmas Spectacular:
The Rude Pundit could not give two shits about organized religion. He believes the only reasons most major faiths exist are to 1) stop the non-marital fucking, and 2) keep poor people in their place. But as a book, the Bible is filled with cool quotes, good advice, and a few interesting parables, sort of like Dostoevsky or Hints from Heloise, but with more fucking and fewer uses for white vinegar. Sure, you can go with your Isaiah 2:4, all about beating your swords into plows and spears into pruning hooks, and, hell, sound advice, if a bit labor-intensive. But because, you know, Jesus is the reason for the season or some such shit, let's go with some words from the Bible's main character, shaggy headed hippie wanderer who pulled a David Blaine in the middle of the desert, and use Matthew 25:40, which, after all that easily ignored shit about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and visiting the imprisoned, Jesus says, roughly, "What you do to the least of these, you do to me."

The Rude Pundit sees it like this: the way a society treats its most fucked-up, vile, and/or lowest members says more about said society than any politician, Fox "news" "reporter," or preacher ever could tell us. In other words, show us the compassion, don't just stand there and tell us about it. It's the hardest part about being a liberal, all the goddamned compassion. Fuck, it'd be easier sometimes to say, "Kill 'em all and let God figger it out," but, nope, that is not our way.

Take, for instance, Saddam Hussein, perhaps a King Lear for our age (driven mad with exile, two children killed - it ain't that much of a stretch). There's a gut level reaction here: Let the Iraqi people decide exactly how slowly and painfully he should be murdered. Even the President got into the act, at first being all coy and shit about punishment, but then coming on full steam with that little-seen Diane Sawyer interview. In a nearly articulate statement to Sawyer, Bush said,"I think he ought to receive the ultimate penalty ... for what he has done to his people." (As Mark Crispin Miller has shown, Bush is never so articulate as when he's talking about retribution or violence or some gleeful combination of the two. Ask him about tax policy and he sounds like Boomhauer from King of the Hill. Ask him about killing an Arab and he's as erudite as William Buckley on speed.)

Of course, multilatereralism is such a bitch because you have to deal with all those "civilized" countries who don't believe in the death penalty, like England, Canada, even the fucking Pope. And, of course, we live in the most barbaric country on this planet because we make a pretext to compassion when, really, all we wanna do is fuck some shit up. So O'Reilly mouths off about the U.N. and the Vatican asking for compassion, polls show the same number of Americans who support the death penalty support it for Saddam, etc., etc.

The point here is this: compassion and humanity are two-way streets. Just like the absurdity of not declaring Saddam a prisoner of war, even though he was caught during a presumptive war, so he can be tried as America wants him to be tried and not by some pussy-ass international tribunal like Nuremberg or the Hague. Once such rules of humanity are breeched, this is the kind of shit that comes around. If we don't declare the Guantanamo 600 POWs because we don't want to abide by the Geneva Convention towards them, then what if the Taliban capture our soldiers? That's an obvious comparison.

But how about this: George Bush believes Saddam's head belongs on a pike, paraded through the streets of Baghdad like a bowling trophy in Milwaukee bar. And so once again the lesson for all governments, for all tribes, for all angry peoples will be that the only response the U.S. can tolerate is violence. Compassion is for pussies - for the French, the U.N., for Jesus . . . oh, wait a second there . . . How about this- how about we don't kill Saddam? The Rude Pundit knows Saddam is eeevil. He knows that the gut says to disembowel this douchebag, to get all Hannibal Lecter on him and make him eat part of his brain before killing him. But that's the animal in us all. Maybe, just maybe, we oughta act like human beings every once in a while and let Saddam live in prison for the rest of his sorry ass days. Maybe the way we treat someone who has degraded the species as much as Saddam says something about how we value humanity. Maybe, just maybe, those who would profess to understand Jesus, the Bible, all that shit, oughta act like they really do. It is, after all, Christmas.

The hypocrisy of the righteous knows no bounds. They will kill and call it compassion. They will destroy and call it redemption. More tomorrow, when we bring it home.