Friday, December 9, 2016

Pharaoh Akhenaten And President Obama; Similarities; Discuss

Pharaoh Akhenaten ruled Egypt for seventeen years, which ended with his death of natural causes in 1336 BC or so. He was the least popular of the Egyptian Pharaohs, and that’s putting it mildly.

He had taken over as Pharaoh under the name Amenhotep IV (“Amun is satisfied”). After four years he had some kind of religious epiphany and changed his name to Akhenaten (“Effective for Aten”). He created a new religion and built a new city called Akhetaten to serve as its administrative center. He seems to have tried to change the state religion of Egypt over to his new system, but the effort was not well received.

While he was alive, things proceeded along normal lines for the times. He built what he wanted to build; he did what he wanted to do; he had the usual half a dozen or eight consorts (including Nefertiti); he had children (including his son Tutankhamun, who succeeded him as Pharaoh); and many monuments were erected in his honor, with the usual elaborate statuary. But in Akhenaten’s case there was a personal twist to everything.  

There was, of course, the new religion, which even today would be a tough sell. The equivalent event in our day would be a pope of Rome announcing that he had received wisdom directly from God and that he was going to change everything about Catholic doctrine and move the administrative center of the resulting new church to Uganda.

The personal touch was also apparent in the art of the period. All art was royal at the time; all art was commissioned by the government. Suddenly, the style of representation was drastically changed. Where before it had been a bit on the stiff side, and the royal subjects had been idealized, the new style was very flowing and naturalistic. People like Akhenaten were shown with their faults. He was not a handsome man, and his physique was neither athletic nor military. Even beyond that, the features and the figures were stylized. Features were elongated; shapes were exaggerated.

This artistic explosion was weird enough to make the History Channel think that Akhenaten might have been an alien.

It may be that his own ministers also thought that he might have descended from another planet. Very soon after his death, official records began to refer to him as “that criminal,” or “the enemy.” There was a concerted effort to deface statues of Akhenaten, or at least get them out of sight somewhere. There was a movement to get him stricken from the list of Pharaohs. It occurred to me the other day that something similar could happen to President Obama after he’s out of office.

Soon-To-Be-Ex-President Obama

President Obama’s path to the presidency, like Akhenaten’s path to the throne, was completely orthodox. He was elected in the normal way; he ascended to the presidency in the prescribed manner; he was re-elected after four years and that election was allowed to stand; and it appears that he will serve out the remaining several weeks of his second term.

Also like Akhenaten, President Obama has met with as much resistance as the law allows for his entire time in office. Obama's desire to enhance medical security for many uninsured Americans was his goal analogous to Akhenaten's new religion. It upset the political apple cart. Obama is a neo-liberal, but he is a neo-liberal with a difference: he has a conscience. Sometimes I wonder if that makes him a Clintonian neo-liberal. I leave those fine points to the political scientists. The Republican neo-liberals, the only other brand available these days, certainly have no consciences. What a bunch of granny-starvers! So, the Affordable Care Act, that was Obama's new religion, that was one of the prime drivers for his opposition. 

He’s been disrespected and called a traitor. What, I wonder, would people think and do if he had not appreciably reduced the ridiculous deficits created by his Republican predecessor; if he had not avoided a second Great Depression; if he had done any of the things that they were afraid that he would do (like take peoples’ guns, or surrender America’s sovereign power to the United Nations)? What would they have done if President Obama had done even one of the egregious things that President Elect Trump has already done? Disqualifying things that he continues to do on a daily basis? What indeed.

So I also wonder what will happen after Mr. Obama officially becomes an “ex-president.”

And what, we may well ask, would the result have been in an alternate universe where Barack Hussein Obama was a white man named Robert Miller or something, who was married to a white woman named Jane, ne Taylor? What indeed. Can anyone honestly say that they believe that the experience would have been identical? I didn’t think so. Certainly it could not have been racism! We are post-racial now! We don’t see color! All of those people, and each of them, had policy differences of opinion with President Obama! His race had nothing to do with it! Why, it’s a total coincidence that they have no problems at all with a government filed with white neo-liberal globalists but that they just happen to hate the black neo-liberal globalist.

Polite Liberals will affect a continuing appreciation of and affection for President Obama. What about everyone else, though? Will time temper any of the hatred that large swathes of the population have shown for President Obama and his wife for eight years now? Many of the haters did not even wait for him to be out of office before calling him “the enemy,” or “that criminal,” much in the same vein as those very terms were used against Akhenaten.

Ours is a very new, very different, completely wacky world in the Twenty-First Century. Right now there are computer savvy teenagers over in Macedonia and the Ukraine and the Philippines inventing strategies for anti-EX-president Obama hit pieces for their fake news sites. “New evidence proves that Obama DID have a plan to take guns out of private hands!” “Obama’s father was an anti-British Mau Mau hit-man!” “Obama now secret lobbyist for Rothschild Bankers!” “Moochelle was a Chinese agent in the White House!” Hillary will continue to feature in fake news as well, because, why not? “Hillary was set to finalize Obama’s gun collections!” I’m sure those kids overseas will come up with better stuff then me.

I’m sure that this new Trump/Republican/Anarchist tidal wave would love to strike the name “Barack Hussein Obama” from the list of American presidents as well. They're still so desperate to force us to realize that OBAMA IS BLACK! (Why not transcend white purity and go for WASP purity at the same time? Maybe we can strike “Kennedy” while we're at it.)

My advice for Ex-President Obama is . . . no, he doesn’t need any advice from me. I’m sure that he’s got a handle on it. He has effortlessly absorbed all of the bile and vitriol that has been thrown at him during his presidency, and he’ll continue to do just that, while enhancing his reputation as a highly intelligent and level headed man, who also manages to be gracious, charming and witty.  

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