Sunday, April 28, 2013

Les Miserables, Today's GOP and the Christian Right

This past Tuesday night, the boyfriend and I went to the touring production of Les Miserables at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk - we had been at a party where a fundraiser for the local PBS station was airing and the boyfriend made a donation that got us the tickets.  It was a very good production and most enjoyable.  I enjoyed it very much.  But it also struck me once again how there are parallels between today's Republican Party and its Christianist base and the government of Louis Phillipe which crushed the 1832 "June Revolution" as personified by the character Javert.   The GOP/Christianists apply a legalistic approach to the law, religion and the less fortunate just as did the regime of Louis Phillipe.  And as under Louis Phillipe's regime, the policies lauded by the GOP and its Christianist base would make life for America's unfortunate citizens far, far worse.  The only positive example shown by authority figures in the entire musical is Bishop Myriel, who turns Jean Valjean's life around by showing him mercy and encouraging him to become a new man.

The related common thread that struck me is the manner in which both Javert and his counterparts in today's GOP/Christianists view those who are poor, those who hold different views of morality - indeed, those who are different - are viewed as less than human and a type of disposable garbage.  There is an utter lack of any ability to see others as equally human with hopes and dreams just as valid and worthy as those who would judge them.   It's clearly not conduct that is in keeping with the message of Christ or his acceptance of those who were social outcasts of his time.  Yet like Javert, we see leading Republican figures and certainly the modern day Pharisees of the Christianist set continue to pat themselves on the back and revel in their self-anointed piety when in fact it is they who are often the ones morally bankrupt.

In the musical based on Victor Hugo's novel, Javert ultimately sees the folly of his life and cannot reconcile his inflexible devotion to the law with his recognition that the strict application of the law and the heartless religious dogma that underlies it is immoral. Ultimately, Javert takes his own life by leaping off a bridge into the Seine River.   Many reviewers see Les Miserables as a story of Jean Valjean's redemption.  I'd argue that in the end, Javert recognizes the truth and does the only thing he deems honorable given what he has done throughout his unfeeling legalistic life.  Unfortunately, I suspect that the GOP and its Christofascist base will not have the revelation that finally came to Javert.   No, they will continue to inflict horrors on others and disseminate hate and bigotry even as they congratulate themselves on their godliness. It is they who are the immoral ones.

No comments: